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The Effects of Agriculture on Wildlife. By Sarah Langan. Pesticides. Include insecticides and herbicides Routinely applied by farmers to increase crop yields Ariel spraying Ground spraying Granules Wildlife is exposed to pesticides by B reathing them in

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  • Include insecticides and herbicides
  • Routinely applied by farmers to increase crop yields
    • Ariel spraying
    • Ground spraying
    • Granules
  • Wildlife is exposed to pesticides by
    • Breathing them in
    • Ingesting them through contaminatedfood and water
    • Absorbing them through their skin or feathers
  • Eliminate crop pests by attacking their central nervous systems
  • Direct affects on wildlife include
    • Sickness
    • Behavioral changes
    • Diminished reproductive abilities
    • Death
  • Persists in the environment, insoluble in water, and accumulates in runoff
  • Fat solubility permits bioaccumulation
  • Effects bald eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, and other birds
    • Causes the shells of the birds’ eggs to become so thin that they are crushed when the parents try to incubate them
  • Banned in the United States in 1973
  • Banned worldwide in 2006, except in African countries where it is used to kill mosquito vectors of malaria
  • Negative impacts on birds
    • Decreases the number of eggs laid
    • Decreases survival rates of eggs and hatchlings
    • Increases embryonic deformities
  • One granule can kill five house sparrows
  • Banned from use on farms and golf courses in 1988
    • Still widely used as home pest control
      • 2001 estimates show that six million pounds are applied annually
  • Most commonly used pesticides on farms
  • Direct effects
    • Paraquat: causes abnormal embryonic bird growth and reduces rates of hatching in waterfowl eggs
  • Indirect effects
    • Destroys habitat and food sources
solutions pesticides
Solutions - Pesticides
  • Ground application
  • Use most effective pesticide that is least detrimental to wildlife
  • Microbial insecticides
    • Bacteria, viruses, and fungi that selectively attack a single species or group of target insects
    • Do not harm mammals, birds, or fish
  • Crop pest parasites and predators
  • Leave some areas untreated
    • Drainages, bottomlands
    • Field borders, fencerows, ditch banks
  • Cover granules completely with soil
  • Develop more pest resistant crops
run off
Run off
  • Chemicals from pesticides and nutrients from fertilizers build up in the soil
  • Soil erosion deposits nutrients into aquatic ecosystems
  • Sedimentation
    • Build up of suspended soil particles
    • Direct affects
      • Suppresses plant development
      • Limits sight-feeding fishes’ ability to find food
      • Clogs fishes’ gills and limits oxygen intake
      • Smothers eggs and larvae
  • Excess nitrogen and phosphorous create low oxygen conditions in aquatic ecosystems
  • Increases plant and animal biomass but decreases diversity and changes the dominant biota
  • Algal blooms
    • Block sunlight from reaching aquatic plants
      • Destroys habitat for fish and depletes food for waterfowl
    • Dead blooms sink to the bottom and are consumed by bacteria
      • Bacteria use large amounts of dissolved oxygen when multiplying
dead zones
Dead Zones
  • Aquatic areas of unlimited algae growth and <2 ppm of dissolved oxygen
  • Gulf of Mexico
    • 6000 – 7000 square miles
    • Caused primarily by runoff from the Mississippi River Valley
  • Gulf of California
    • Yaqui Valley irrigations are followed by large blooms of red and brown tides
    • 19 – 223 square miles
    • Causes paralytic shellfish disease
solutions runoff
Solutions – Runoff
  • Use fewer fertilizers
  • Decrease the rate of application
  • Animal waste control or conversion into fuel for electricity and heating
  • Limit the amounts of nutrients, organic matter, and harmful chemicals in waste from manufacturing facilities
  • Primary cause is agriculture
  • Destroys habitat and food sources
    • Increases competition for limited resources
    • Increases risk of extinction
      • Endemic species
      • Populations that cannot adapt
solutions deforestation
Solutions – Deforestation
  • Stop clear-cutting
  • Replace trees that are cut down
  • Governmental regulations
species that benefit from farming
Species that Benefit from Farming
  • Traditional farming practices in developing countries create grassland habitats for threatened birds
organic farming
Organic Farming
  • No chemical pesticides
    • Hedgerows and ditches provide habitat for natural predators
  • No artificial fertilizers
    • Strictly manure
  • Antibiotics only given to livestock as needed
  • Crop rotation
  • Mixed farming
  • Spring sowing

and Cons

  • Known to increase biodiversity on the farm
    • 2010 University of Leeds study: 12.4% increase
    • 2012 University of Oxford study: 30% increase
  • Lower crop yields
    • 2010 University of Leeds study: 55% decrease
    • 2012 McGill University and University of Minnesota study: 25% decrease overall, 13% decrease with improved management techniques
      • Cereal crops have worst yield decrease
      • Legumes, soybeans, and fruits yield almost as much as conventional farming
shade grown coffee
Shade-grown coffee
  • Introduced by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in 1996
  • Coffee grows in the shade of native trees maintained by the farmer

and Cons

  • Creates suitable habitat for many avian species
  • Natural pest control by birds, bats, and predatory insects
  • Higher soil quality than sun-grown coffee
  • Lower yield than sun-grown coffee
    • Farmers profit from fruit, firewood, medicinal herbs, building materials, and ecotourism