July 4 () –
New research has revealed that wild birds living in vineyards can be highly susceptible to contamination by triazole fungicides, more than in other agricultural landscapes.
“We found that birds can be highly contaminated by triazoles in vineyards,” says Dr. Frédéric Angelier, principal investigator at France’s National Center for Scientific Research. “This contamination was much higher in vineyards than in other crops, highlighting that contaminants can especially endanger birds in these specific agroecosystems“.
Triazoles are commonly used fungicides that are applied to agricultural crops such as wheat to kill fungal pests by disrupting their cell membranes.
Although previous studies on wildlife decline have assessed the impact of various agricultural industries, the role of vineyards has been largely overlooked.
“However, vineyards cover a large proportion of land in some European countries and, what is more important, are associated with a massive use of fungicides (up to 5-7 times more than on other crops),” recalls Dr. Angelier. –. Therefore, Vineyards are highly relevant agroecosystems to assess the impacts of fungicides on wild birds.”
For this study, presented at the SEB Annual Conferencethe Society for Experimental Biology, Angelier and his team combined field experiments to measure fungicide levels in the real world, with controlled laboratory experiments to test the impact of these fungicide levels on specific aspects of bird health.
Laboratory investigations into the effects of pesticides on wildlife often use higher concentrations of pesticides than are common in the real world to elicit more intense reactions. However, the team measured actual fungicide contamination in birds living in vineyards, as well as in birds from other ecosystems such as forests, cities and cultivated fields.
They then precisely mimicked fungicide concentrations found in vineyards under laboratory conditions to examine their sublethal effects on bird physiology and health.
“In that sense, our research helps to better understand how pesticides affect wild birds in a realistic world –assures–. Impacts on reproduction and survival could lead to a loss of biodiversity or services (such as birds eating other pests).”