Chemical pollution is killing the invertebrate species that form the basis of England’s river ecosystems, as experts sound the alarm about declining diversity in England. ephemeraAnd the filth and types of rock flies.
A census of aquatic wildlife in 12 English rivers found that in the spring and summer of 2021, the average number of river fly species detected decreased. Last year’s fall, an average of only 10 species were recorded in each sample, compared to 13 in 2016.
The findings come as the government considers a new “chemical strategy” to reduce chemical pollution as part of its 25-year environmental plan. Green groups are calling on ministers to take dozens of key steps they say can reduce pollution – but especially to tackle chemicals from agriculture.
Stephanie Morin, RSPB’s chief policy officer, said: “It is unacceptable that the stress on rivers from chemical pollution is getting worse and affecting wildlife.
We are living in a nature crisis and we need it urgently [the] government to take action. Given that such a large amount of water pollution is from agricultural sources, it is critical that farmers are supported to reduce their dependence on inputs such as pesticides.”
“It often takes decades for us to realize the true harm of pesticides and other chemicals to our environment,” said Sarah Hines, coordinator at the Pesticide Collaboration. “Once the damage is done and the pesticide is banned, a new chemical enters the market…and that’s how things go. Enough is enough.” As the movement for nature-friendly agriculture swells, the government needs a proper plan to reduce the use of pesticides and help revitalize our rivers.”
In the United Kingdom, more than 4,100 species of invertebrates spend at least part of their life cycle in freshwater. The river fly plays many vital roles in our freshwater environment. They help break down and filter organic matter and provide a food source for fish, birds, and mammals. Their presence is the standard indicator of the health of the habitat in which they live, said Craig McAdam, Buglife’s director of conservation.
Exposure to chemical pollutants causes a host of problems for these invertebrate communities, stunting development to death. The different tolerances of different aquatic invertebrates can allow scientists to quantify the chemical forcing at a particular site.
“Looking at this data allowed us to determine whether the chemicals affect aquatic wildlife, how they affect, and whether the problem is getting better or worse,” researchers said in a report published Tuesday.
The report used the at-risk species scores – which are calculated from the diversity and abundance of invertebrates found in the river – generated from the river worm population.
The results showed that in the fall of 2021, the number of sites that scored “poor” or “bad” on the chemical stress scale was much greater than in 2015, 2016 and 2017, indicating that chemical contamination, from sources such as agricultural pesticides and pharmaceuticals , was getting worse.
Dr Janina Gray, executive vice president of the charity WildFish, said: “Chemical contamination is not a new problem. In fact, Rachel Carson has warned us of its threat at Her book Silent Spring in 1962.
The results of the chemical report show that invertebrate communities are under more stress now than in our previous study, indicating that the problem is getting worse. The next chemical strategy is an opportunity to reverse the trend, but only if the government moves to the required level and acts now.”
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