Reduced abundance of insects and spiders linked to radiation at Chernobyl 20 years after the accident

Anders Pape Møller, Timothy A Mousseau

Abstract

Effects of low-level radiation on abundance of animals are poorly known. We conducted standardized point counts and line transects of bumble-bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spider webs at forest sites around Chernobyl differing in background radiation by over four orders of magnitude. Abundance of invertebrates decreased with increasing radiation, even after controlling for factors such as soil type, habitat and height of vegetation. These effects were stronger when comparing plots differing in radiation within rather than among sites, implying that the ecological effects of radiation from Chernobyl on animals are greater than previously assumed.

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Footnotes

    • Received December 18, 2008.
    • Accepted February 12, 2009.
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