A new study tracking the bird populations in Fukushima found a decline in population and in diversity. An even more curious finding was that bird populations continued to decline over years even as the radiation levels began to drop.
‘We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left,’ said Dr Mousseau. ‘The declines have been really dramatic.’ And while background radiation has declined in the region in recent years, the negative effects of the accident on birds are actually increasing. ‘The relationship between radiation and numbers started off negative the first summer, but the strength of the relationship has actually increased each year,’ Dr Mousseau said. ‘So now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds.
Both recent media accounts on the pair of new papers showed a good example of what public engagement on science topics should look like. Approachable, honest and without making any sweeping predictions.
The same team of researchers have also been studying the biodiversity and wildlife populations near Chernobyl.
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