Are the birds starving? How systemic pesticides impact population dynamics of insectivorous birds through invertebrate availability in farmland areas

Neonicotinoids have received a lot of attention lately because of their possible negative impacton bees and other invertebrates. Among the neonicotinoids, Imidacloprid is most widely used and is consitently in the top 3 of pesticides that exceed Dutch norms. In july 2014, a strong correlation was reported between the decrease of insectivorous birds and concentrations of this pesticed in surface water. However, the mechanisms behid this decline are as yet unknown. One hypothesis is that systemic pesticides like imidacloprid decrease the availability and/or the quality of invertebrate food that bird need to feed their young.

In this study we try to find the mechanisms behind the correlation between pesticide concentrations and bird declines using a ‘chain analysis’. The chain links pesticide-concentrations to population dynamics of birds through the availability of inverebrate prey and and provisioning rates of birds. By using long-term data on bird demography and collecting new data in the field (breeding biology and and provisioning rates of birds, availability of prey, pesticide concentrations), we aim to connnect all links in the chain using a population modelling approach.


IWWR-RU, Sovon, Vogeltrekstation, Vogelbescherming Nederland

Financed by: 

Aard- en Levenswetenschappen Open Programma - NWO