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Bees prefer road-side snacks

A new study from Plymouth University seems to show that bumble bees would rather dodge the traffic when foraging on hedges than pop over the other side for a peaceful snack in a field. After study hedgerows at 30 locations in Devon and Cornwall the researchers concluded that road-facing hedges offered more resources to bees than the side that faced an agricultural field. The reason, they concluded, was that pesticides from agricultural spraying made the road-facing side of the hedge more beneficial to the bee. Two things could be concluded from the study. The first is the importance of road-side verges to bees and other pollinators. These verges should be […]


A third of the Amazon could lose 44% of species in just 15 years

New research has shown that parts of the Amazon could lose between 31% and 44% of major species by 2030, just 15 years away. The research shows that as regions of the Amazon reach a threshold for forest loss the number of species quickly crash. A third of the Amazon is expected to reach or exceed that threshold by 2030. As the Amazon is clear-felled for industries such as agriculture and timber species are obviously lost. To reduce the impact governments such as Brazil require operators to keep at least 80% forest cover but this is rarely enforced and often more forest is felled. What the researchers from the University […]

Neonicotinoids shuts down bees power plants

Neonicotinoids are a prime suspect in the loss of honey bees. They have been shown to interfere with the way that bees forage and navigate. New research now shows that the neonicotinoid pesticdes also impact on the way that cells in bees produce energy. Imidacloprid – a neonicotinoid – and Fibronil – a pyrazoles – have been shown to interfere with the actions of  mitochondrial bioenergetics. Mitochondria produces the power that cells need to do their work. Bees use a lot of energy during flight and any impact on the way that their cells produce energy can have devastating consequences. There is a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoids impact on […]

Crop spraying connected to treatment resistant fungal lung disease

A UK based study by scientists from Manchester University and Radboud University have made a connection between crop-spraying and resistant Aspergillus infection in lungs of people. The study compared the aspergillus fungus in people from North Yorkshire where fungicides are sprayed on to crops with aspergillus found in inner-city Manchester and away from crop-spraying. The researchers found that 1.7% of the fungi samples taken from North Yorkshire were resistant to current treatments while no samples taken from Manchester were found to be drug-resistant. The aspergillus fungi is a common fungus found in the air, soil and water. However for some people it is a deadly condition if it gets into the […]

Radio-tagged bumble-bees reveal impacts of pesticides

A study involving the tagging of bees shows how neonicotinoid based pesticides influence the foraging of bees and interferes with the insects learning new foraging skills. The study was undertaken by researchers from Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences and Imperial College London and was published in British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology. The study by by Nigel Raine, a professor in Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences, and Richard Gill of Imperial College London demonstrates that long-term exposure to neonicotinoids leads to bees changing their usual behaviour in relation to pollen collection and even which flowers the bees go to in order to collect pollen. “Bees have to learn many things about their environment, […]

International taskforce back action on neonicotinoids

An international team affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come down in favour of regulatory control of the neonicotinoids basec pesticides. The task force undertook a meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies and concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support regulatory action. The scientists from the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides are affiliated with both the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The analysis, known as the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA), to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal Environment Science and Pollution Research, finds that neonics pose a serious risk to honeybees and other pollinators such as butterflies and to […]

When the elephants are gone what will pastoralists and ranchers do?

It’s common knowledge that elephants play an important role in the natural ecosystem of the African plains and forests but new research show that they can provide an essential ecosystem service in combatting an invasive plant that is sweeping across Africa. Normally when elephants and agriculture hits the news it is in a negative context with conflicts and competition for ground and food. The new research published today shows that elephants could be one of the best friends that ranchers and pastoralists can have. Solanum campylacanthum – or Sodom Apple – is an invasive plant in Africa and it spreads quickly. The tough weed quickly outcompetes fragile grasses of the […]

Government has a sulk over badger cull

The UK government appears to have gone into a bit of a sulk over the badger cull and the criticism it was given by an independent panel that was set up to monitor the effectiveness of the cull. The independent panel will not be allowed to monitor the second year of the cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset – effectively meaning there will be no unbiased monitoring of the badger killings this year. The Independent Experts Panel had monitored the progress of the badger cull last year which was put in place in England to try and reduce the prevalence of Bovine Tb. The cull only took place in England as […]

10 day march to save the badgers proposed

10 day march to save the badgers proposed

I thought the readers of Wildlife News would be interested in this exciting new action happening soon, and hope you can share it among your supporters and help to make this a HUGE event! I can’t see how to send it to your main website as I can’t find a send news button at the top of the page as instructed, which is why I’m sending this as a FB message instead. On Thursday Owen Paterson announced he will continue with killing badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire, despite the independent report stating it was cruel, ineffective and costly last year. 18% of the badgers shot took more than 5 minutes […]

Gas the badgers says Princess Anne

Once again the British royal family have shown their love of killing or maiming wildlife. This time it is Princess Anne who in an interview set to be broadcast on BBC Countryfile thinks that badgers should be culled by gassing. While the public consistently supports non-lethal methods of TB control in badgers and wildlife the news that the royals support gassing is, if not unexpected, then disappointing. Her views that gassing can be an effective and humane way of culling badgers is not supported by the science. The contrary is true – the way that badger setts are formed and networked means that in many cases the gas becomes so […]

Vultures under threat – Europe ignores Asian lessons

Europe has failed to take notice of the Asian experience with the cattle drug Diclofenac as it becomes more widely available on the continent. Used to treat animals for inflammation and other diseases vultures are unable to break down the chemical and die from renal failure. The impact of the drug was quick and devastating with vulture populations in India during the 1980’s running at millions of birds to barely a few thousand remaining by the late 1990’s. Despite the drug being banned by India in March 2006, Nepal in August 2006 and Pakistan in late 2006 the drug has been authorised for use in Spain where 80% of European vultures […]

Traditional rice farmers join forces to stop bio-piracy

100 small-scale farmers have launched a network to keep traditional crop varieties in common use and to try to prevent the varieties from being grabbed by large agricultural companies who could try and cover the genes of the plants with intellectual property rights. The farmers from 15 states in India have launched the National Seed Savers Network. It aims to pass seeds of crops and vegetables species in common use and ownership by sharing and distributing the seeds within the network. The network will also use varieties from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) and university collections. The main impetus for launching the network was the recent approval […]

New badger study offers hope for vaccination

A new badger movement study – the largest ever undertaken – could offer valuable clues as to the best way to use vaccination as an affordable and workable solution to bovine Tb. The 4 year study based in Ireland and involving Irish and Canadian researchers looked at rare occurrences of long-distance migration that badgers sometimes undertakes. The longest distance covered by a badger during the study was 22.1km and this offers the hope of protecting areas that have no incidence of Tb by installing a ‘vaccinated’ buffer zone to prevent infected badgers becoming established. The scientists from Ireland and Canada studied badger movements for four years across a 755km2 area […]

Conservation Grade beats Organic for helping birds

Shoppers who want to help farmland birds when buying their Christmas vegetables this year should look out for Conservation Grade produce rather than organic. A new study by University of Southampton has shown that farms awarded Conservation Grade status are better for farmland birds than fully organic farms. The study shows that threatened farmland birds are likely to survive the winter better on conventional farms with specially designed wildlife habitats than on organic farms without. Conservation Grade farms require farmers to put in place measures to manage and establish specific habitats for wildlife. Comparing three different farming methods the researchers found that farmland birds survived the winter months better on […]

Bird numbers crash at Lough Neagh due to greener agriculture

Britain and Ireland’s largest freshwater lake, Lough Neagh has seen over-wintering bird numbers crash by more that 75% over the last 10 years. Ironically one of the main reasons for the crash is farm conservation measures to protect water quality. The result is that the productivity of Lough Neagh has dropped to more normal and historic levels resulting in less food for the birds. The study by Quercus, Northern Ireland’s Centre for Biodiversity and   Conservation Science, found the number of diving ducks migrating to the lake   for the winter months has dropped from 100,000 to less than 21,000 in the   space of a decade. A closer look at the ecology of the lake revealed that […]

Stable badger populations help reduce spread of TB

A new paper published in the current issue of Current Biology seems to show that vaccination is probably the most effective way of tackling TB in badger populations. The paper shows that the social networks of badgers have a major impact on the spread of the disease. THe research was carried out by the University of Exeter and scientists from the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs’ AHVLA National Wildlife Management Centre. “In wild animals, just as in humans, social networks are very important for disease transmission,” says Robbie McDonald of the University of Exeter. “When management changes stable networks, the results for disease control are often counterintuitive and unexpected.” The […]

Air pollution impacts on bees ability to find food

Diesel fumes from modern transport and agricultural equipment could be preventing honeybees from finding their food flowers according to scientists. The researchers from Southampton have discovered that air pollution can mask the odour of flowers. By masking the floral smells of different species the honey bees are unable to find their preferred source of food. Ultimately this could impact on the ability of bees to prosper and pollinate the food crops that humans depend on. The Southampton team, led by Dr Tracey Newman and Professor Guy Poppy, found that diesel exhaust fumes change the profile of flora odour. They say that these changes may affect honeybees’ foraging efficiency and, ultimately, […]

Can building waste reduce water pollution?

Freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers can often be affected by pollution from run-off. One of the biggest problems is phosphorous which is often used as a fertiliser. When it gets into rivers and lakes it can cause algal blooms which can kill other wildlife. But old concrete could help solve this problem. A team of researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have had excellent success with a trial using crushed concrete to remove up to 90% of phosphorous pollution from water. By intercepting run-off into drainage ponds and channels that are lined with a crushed concrete bed many freshwater bodies in agricultural land could be protected. “We have […]

Breakthrough in eco-farming technology

Intensive agriculture is essential in the production of affordable food but it comes with a wider cost of environmental pollution. It’s not just the pesticides and herbicides that cause pollution. With intensive farming comes the needs for adding fertilizers. These nitrogen additives, essential to make crops grow, are also major polluters – especially of waterways. A team of plant scientists at the University of Nottingham is on the verge of allowing crops to be grown without the need of fertiliser applications and its associated pollution. It will also mean that high energy production and use of fossil fuel to feed the world could be greatly reduced. Taking the lead from […]

Fungicides implicated in honey bee parasite susceptability

A study just publishes seems to show that honey bees can be exposed to sub-lethal levels of widely used fungicides which will make them more at risk from the gut parasite Nosema ceranae. The team of researchers in the United States pollen in beehives across a wide range of crops that required pollination. The researchers examined the pollen from the hives and identified 35 different pesticides. Of particular interest was high levels of fungicides. The researchers said in the paper, While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need […]

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