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Sun May 3, 2015, 08:32 PM

Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/birds-are-tailspin-four-years-after-fukushima-180955134/
[font face=Serif][font size=5]Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima[/font]
[font size=4]Like the proverbial canary in a coalmine, avian abundances may paint a grim picture of the effects of nuclear disasters on wildlife[/font]

By Ben Mirin
smithsonian.com
April 30, 2015

[font size=3]…

Now, after four years surveying bird populations in 400 sites around Fukushima-Daiichi, Mousseau and his team have assembled a grim portrait of the disaster’s impact on local wildlife, using bird populations as a model system. Even though radioactivity has dropped throughout the region, their data show that bird species and abundances are in sharp decline, and the situation is getting worse every year.

“At first only a few species showed significant signs of the radiation’s effects,” Mousseau says. “Now if you go down and around the bend maybe five or ten kilometers [from a safe zone] to where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.”

Mousseau’s team conducted almost 2,400 bird counts in total and gathered data on 57 species, each of which showed specific sensitivity to background radiation. Thirty of the species showed population declines during the study period, the team report in the March issue of the Journal of Ornithology. Among these, resident birds such as the carrion crow and the Eurasian tree sparrow demonstrated higher susceptibility than migratory species, which didn’t arrive in the region until a few weeks after the partial meltdown in early March.



When Mousseau returned to Fukushima in 2012, he began capturing birds in irradiated zones that had patches of bleach-white feathers. It was a familiar sign: “The first time I went to Chernobyl in 2000 to collect birds, 20 percent of the birds (we captured) at one particularly contaminated farm had little patches of white feathers here and there—some large, some small, sometimes in a pattern and other times just irregular.”

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Reply Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima (Original post)
OKIsItJustMe May 2015 OP
KT2000 May 2015 #1
mountain grammy May 2015 #2
ellenrr May 2015 #3
hunter May 2015 #4
OKIsItJustMe May 2015 #5
hunter May 2015 #6

Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Sun May 3, 2015, 09:25 PM

1. Sad, just sad. n/t

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Sun May 3, 2015, 11:38 PM

2. and we won't rest until we kill every creature on this earth..

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Mon May 4, 2015, 05:01 AM

3. no comment, just agree with both comments... (sigh)

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Mon May 4, 2015, 06:20 PM

4. All the people who fed the birds, directly or indirectly, moved away.

Removing humans from an environment changes things.



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Response to hunter (Reply #4)

Tue May 5, 2015, 08:49 AM

5. Interesting…

So you’re suggesting that the birds need humans to survive?

Clearly, people affect their environment, but shouldn’t at least some bird species be doing better?


“At first only a few species showed significant signs of the radiation’s effects,” Mousseau says. “Now if you go down and around the bend maybe five or ten kilometers (from a safe zone) to where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.”


In my experience at least, as I get away to a place where there are fewer humans, there are more birds.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #5)

Tue May 5, 2015, 11:44 AM

6. We have an extremely bird, bee, and butterfly friendly garden...

... it has reliable sources of safe water, cats are excluded, we don't use insecticides, and there are many trees and vines for birds to roost and nest in.

I put out a quart or two of seeds every morning to attract birds, and when they are done with that they go after the insect pests. I can easily count twenty or more species of birds on any given day, from humming birds to hawks.

If we replaced the garden with a swimming pool, a sterile lawn, and a few palm trees (which was the unfortunate fate of my grandparent's wonderful garden in Los Angeles after they moved away and sold the house...sad...) then the neighborhood bird population would take a serious hit.

The birds around Fukushima doubtlessly had an ecological relationship with the small farmers in the area. Farmers spill grain that the birds eat directly, or the birds eat the small rodents that eat the spilled grain. Birds dig through disturbed soil for grubs, and so on. When the farmers left, any bird populations that depended heavily upon agricultural practices must have suffered a great deal of stress, and if people do not return to certain areas, the bird populations will become somewhat representative of a wilderness state.

Without question, the damages done by radioactive toxins are not negligible, and can cause health problems such as birth defects and cancers to increase to levels that would be considered horrific in human populations and even among our domestic animals. It's also clear that some species are much more sensitive to radioactive toxins than others. Nevertheless it's a very rough world for most species of feral and wild birds who are still most likely to die from causes other than radioactive toxins in the environment.

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