Date: September 12, 2019
Source: University of Saskatchewan
New research at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) shows how the world's most widely used insecticides could be partly responsible for a dramatic decline in songbird populations.
A study published in the journal Science on Sept. 13 is the first experiment to track the effects of a neonicotinoid pesticide on birds in the wild.
The study found that white-crowned sparrows who consumed small doses of an insecticide called imidacloprid suffered weight loss and delays to their migration -- effects that could severely harm the birds' chances of surviving and reproducing.
"We saw these effects using doses well within the range of what a bird could realistically consume in the wild -- equivalent to eating just a few treated seeds," said Margaret Eng, a post-doctoral fellow in the USask Toxicology Centre and lead author on the study.
Eng's collaborators on the research were biologist Bridget Stutchbury of York University and Christy Morrissey, an ecotoxicologist in the USask College of Arts and Science and the School of Environment and Sustainability.