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British beetles missing, presumed extinct
21 Jun 2006

The stag beetle, Lucanus cervus, is a protected species and is Britians largest beetle.
Around 250 of the UK's 4000 species of beetle haven't been seen in the wild since 1970 and could be under threat of extinction.
Conservation charity, Buglife , says many of these beetles may already be extinct and that more should be done to protect habitats for these important creatures.
Priority beetles
The UK government released its report on the first 10 years of its Biodiversity Action Plan this week. The list of priority species for conservation action includes 87 beetles. However, four of these beetles have now disappeared.
'We are in a global extinction event,' said Matt Shardlow, Buglife director. 'During National Insect Week we should remind ourselves not only that the threat of extinction hangs over many of our native insects, but also that studying and understanding the ecology and distribution of these animals is essential to maintaining a healthy environment'.
Beetles carry out many crucial roles in nature such as pollinating flowers and recycling dead wood, dung and the bodies of dead animals. Small changes in a beetle's habitat can result in extinction for the beetle and for other animals that prey on beetles.
'All of the terrestrial ecosystems would collapse if you removed the beetle,' said Max Barclay, beetle expert at the Natural History Museum. 'Beetles are fundamental to most of the land environments on earth'.
Dung down under
An example of how important beetles are can be found in Australia. From the late 1700s Australian dung beetles struggled to cope with recycling the dung from sheep and cattle being imported into Australia at that time. The Australian dung beetles were only suited to munching kangaroo dung. The growing numbers of flies enjoying the dung also helped to spread diseases. Dung beetles from Europe and Africa were eventually introduced to clear up the mess.
Biodiversity boost
There are some positive outcomes from the Biodiversity Action Plan. The number of threatened corncrake has doubled since 1993. There are also 42 percent more Lesser horseshoe bats in Wales and 39 percent more in south west England since 1998.
'Apart from being something that we value in its own right, biodiversity is a vital part of our natural support system,' said UK Biodiversity Minister Barry Gardiner.
'It helps to regulate climate and provides other benefits that contribute to people's health, prosperity, and enjoyment of the natural environment.'


I would like to know if pollen from corn plant that has been genetically modified to resist insect pests can kill most of the insects miles away including beetles, bees, butterflies.
It can kill caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly. Regards Ricardo Subject: Gene-altered corn likely fatal to Monarchs This article was printed in the Houston Chronicle today 21.V,1999. Plant a threat to butterfly by Rick Weiss A popular new variety of corn plant that has been genetically modified to resist insect pests may also be taking a toll on the Monarch butterfly.
The gene-altered corn, which exudes a poson fatal to corn-boring caterpillars, was introduced in 1996 and now accounts for more than one-quarter of the nation's corn crop- much of it in the path of the Monarch's annual migration.
Pollen from the plants can blow onto nearby milweed plants, the exclusive food upon wyich young monarch larvae feed, and get eaten by the teger=striped caterpillars.
In studies at Cornell University, the engineered pillen killed nearly half of those young before they transormed into the brilliant orange, black and white butterflies well known throughout North America. Scientists said Wednesday that if the study's results are correct then Monarchs may soon appear on the endangered species list.
The Monarch's popularity is likely to put pressure on the already embattled agricultural biotechnology industry and on the Environmental Portection Agency, which approved the crops.
The corn in question is one of five varieties that will be planted on about 22 million U.s. acres this year. It contains a bacterial gene called Bt, which makes a chemical deadly to corn borers. The borers cause $1 billion of damage annually. Cornell entomologist John E. Losey sprinkled Bt pollen on milkweed leaves and allowed Monarch larve to feed on them within four days, 44 persent were dead, scientists reported in today's issue of the journal Nature. Catherine Urban Cockrell Butterfly Center and Insect Zoo Houston Museum of Natural Science Tel: 713-639-4752 FAX: 713-639-4788


The reactions to the Bt corn article and media reports on this list reflect a lack of knowledge of the original study. In one case, a posting reflects an antiresearch bias, a poor understanding of monarch population biology and an inadequade understanding of the use of pesticides in field corn. If you are interested in this topic, you might find it valuable to consult one or more of the following accounts. . The NPR report can be found and heard by clicking on the NPR web site under "Crop >Genetic Engineering". The NPR link is apparently mixed up so click on >"Crop Genetic Engineering" rather than Biotech and butterflies. You will >need Real Audio Player or Real Media Player - available free to listen to >the program. An article by Carol Kaesuk Yoon regarding the altered corn threat to the Monarchs is on the New York Times web site. <> If you wish to see the original text, please email me privately. Pollen From GM Corn Harms (Monarch) Butterfly Larvae - Study Wednesday, May 19, 1999 (Try to find a news org that tells you the name of the company that makes this genetically modified corn!)( It's Novartis Inc. see also ) By Patricia Reaney LONDON (Reuters) - In what could be a damaging indictment against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), U.S. scientists said pollen from corn engineered to reduce pests killed monarch caterpillars in laboratory tests. The hybrid crop, known as Bt-corn, is safe for human consumption and it does not seem to harm honey bees or ladybirds but it produces a pollen, dispersed by the wind, that can be harmful to monarch larvae. ``It's certainly a serious potential problem,'' John Losey, of Cornell University, said in a telephone interview. ``If it's really having an impact on a large proportion of the population (of monarch butterflies) I think it is a very serious problem.'' Bt-corn has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis spliced into the plant genes, making it resistant to a hard-to-control pest called the European corn borer. Last year more than 7 million acres of the crop were planted by U.S. farmers. The genetically modified (GM) plants produce a pollen containing crystalline exdotoxin from the bacterium genes. The pollen can be blown more than 60 yards onto plants outside the cornfields, including the milkweed that monarchs feed on. Losey and his team fed monarchs milkweed dusted with the pollen from Bt-corn. Their research, published in the science journal Nature, showed the butterflies ate less than those fed on normal milkweed and nearly half of the larvae died. Although the research is limited to laboratory tests and there is no evidence of what effect the transformed pollen has on monarch butterflies in the field, the study highlights some of the worst fears about the effects of GMOs on the environment. ``Monarchs are considered to be a flagship species for conservation. This is a warning bell,'' said Linda Rayor, a co-author of the study. ``Monarch themselves are not an endangered species right now, but as their habitat is disrupted or destroyed, their migratory phenomena is becoming endangered,'' she added. Losey emphasized the need for more data and the need to look at the big picture. Although he does not support a moratorium on the planting of GM crops, he said the proven benefits in terms of increased yields and reduced rates of pesticides needs to be weighed against any potential risks. ``If we are going to allow them to go forward what we need is a commitment from the industries and the regulatory agencies and academia to get the data to be able to tell the effects of GM crops on the population,'' he said.

The British Medical Association Monday called for a moratorium on the planting of GMOs until scientists know more about their impact on the environment. Britain's Labor government said there is no evidence to justify a ban. Monarch butterflies and herbicide resistant crops by Bob Hartzler: January 26, 1999 - What's the connection between these two organisms you ask? The monarch migrates each year from southern Canada and the eastern half of the U.S. to a few small sites in the mountains of central Mexico. Researchers in Saskatoon, Saskathewan conducted a study to determine the range of monarchs during their summer stay in the US and Canada (Science, 8 Jan., 1999. 283:171). They found that approximately half of the monarchs were from a relatively narrow-swath from Nebraska to Ohio. The researchers were surprised that so much of the population was concentrated in the heart of the cornbelt. They expressed concern about the rapid changes in weed control practices occurring in this region. Monarch larvae feed exclusively on milkweed plants, thus reductions in milkweed populations could have a dramatic impact on monach reproduction. The use of herbicide resistant crops (Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, IMI corn) could provide more effective control of milkweed than traditional herbicides, thus the concern. Several factors need to be considered when looking at the impact of HRC's on monarch butterflies: 1) Will the rates and timing of herbicide applications made to control annual weeds have a significant impact on milkweed populations?, 2) What percentage of milkweed in the corn belt is found in row crop acres vs in roadsides, pastures and other non-row crop areas?, 3) Do monarchs have a site preference for egg laying (row crop vs non-row crop)? The researchers pointed out that their findings represent only a single year's distribution of monarch butterflies and may not represent historical patterns. However, it does illustrate the potential impact changes in weed management strategies could have on the ecosystem. Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University For more information contact: ISU Extension Agronomy 2104 Agronomy Hall Ames, Iowa 50011-1010 Voice: (515) 294-1923 Fax: (515) 294-9985 Monarch Watch Email: WWW: Dplex-L: send message "info Dplex-L" to Phone: 1 (888) TAGGING (toll-free!) -or- 1 (785) 864 4441 Fax: 1 (785) 864 4441 -or- 1 (785) 864 5321 Snail: c/o O.R. Taylor, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of KS, Lawrence KS 66045


From Sam Smith's Undernews for the week of May, 17-21 MARIE WOOLF IN THE BRITISH INDEPENDENT:
Forests of giant genetically engineered trees are being planned in a development which ecologists fear will threaten entire ecosystems. Pulp and paper companies have teamed up with the world's leading biotechnology firms to alter trees genetically to make them grow faster, pulp more easily and give them resistance to pests.
But the drive to create "designer trees" has caused alarm among environmentalists who fear that it could cause irreparable damage to the plants, insects and animals that rely on trees to survive. They also fear that new GM traits - such as herbicide resistance - will be spread to natural trees, creating hybrids.

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