Schistosomiasis is a severe neglected tropical disease caused by trematodes and transmitted by freshwater snails. Snails are known to be highly tolerant to agricultural pesticides. However, little attention has been paid to the ecological consequences of pesticide pollution in areas endemic for schistosomiasis, where people live in close contact with non-sanitized freshwaters.
Across the expansive Taita Plains in Southern Eastern Kenya, rises a majestic densely forested hilly outcrops straddling the skyline near the historic town of Voi. These hilly outcrops, famously known as the Taita Hills occupy an area of about 250 square kilometers. In addition to being an important biodiversity hotspot and water tower, the densely forested hills form an important ecosystem consisting of a number of forests, home to various animals and rare bird species.
Snakes have been ”starving” to death after a mass die-off of forest frogs deprived them of their unusual meal, scientists have discovered. More than 500 frog species in central America have declined in numbers, including 90 that have gone extinct since 1998, biologists said. In 2004, a fungal pathogen outbreak caused a mass die-off. In the following years, numbers of snakes and the variety of species plummeted, found researchers from the University of Maryland and Michigan State University.
The abundance of insects has decreased for the last decades in many parts of the world although so far few studies have quantified this reduction because there have only been few baseline studies dating back decades that have allowed comparison of ancient and recent population estimates. Such a paired design is particularly powerful because it reduces or eliminates bias caused by differences in identity and experience of observers, identity of study sites, years, time of season, and time of day, and it ensures identity of sampling procedures.
The “fates of humans and insects are intertwined”, scientists have said, with the huge declines reported in some places only the “tip of the iceberg”. The warning has been issued by 25 experts from around the world, who acknowledge that little is known about most of the estimated 5.5 million insect species. However, enough was understood to warrant immediate action, they said, because waiting for better data would risk irreversible damage.
Hundreds of bird populations in India are collapsing, according to a major new report. Researchers using data collected by more than 15,000 birdwatchers examined trends over a 25-year period, and also over the last five years, and in both cases found numbers had declined overall. Over the last quarter of a century there is data available for 261 species – 52 per cent of which were found to be decreasing in number. And over the past five years, data available for 146 species revealed almost 80 per cent of them were declining.
Many insects, mosses and lichens in the UK are bucking the trend of biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 5,000 species led by UCL and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH). The researchers say their findings on UK biodiversity between 1970 and 2015, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, may provide evidence that efforts to improve air and water quality could be paying off.
Since the mid-1990s, populations of the common Japanese dragonfly Sympetrum frequens in rice fields have declined severely. Application of systemic insecticides—especially fipronil—to nursery boxes of rice seedlings is suspected to be the main cause of the decline. However, until now there have been insufficient population data to test the causality. We conducted a dragonfly survey from 2009 to 2016 in four prefectures of Japan and compiled the data to enable the comparison of population growth rates along five main census routes over the years.