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.
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.
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.RegardsRicardoSubject: Gene-altered corn likely fatal to MonarchsThis article was printed in the Houston Chronicle today 21.V,1999.Plant a threat to butterflyby Rick Weiss A popular new variety of corn plant that has been geneticallymodified to resist insect pests may also be taking a toll on the Monarchbutterfly.
The gene-altered corn, which exudes a poson fatal to corn-boringcaterpillars, was introduced in 1996 and now accounts for more thanone-quarter of the nation's corn crop- much of it in the path of theMonarch's annual migration.
Pollen from the plants can blow onto nearby milweed plants, theexclusive food upon wyich young monarch larvae feed, and get eaten by theteger=striped caterpillars.
In studies at Cornell University, the engineered pillen killednearly half of those young before they transormed into the brilliantorange, black and white butterflies well known throughout North America. Scientists said Wednesday that if the study's results are correctthen Monarchs may soon appear on the endangered species list.
The Monarch's popularity is likely to put pressure on the alreadyembattled agricultural biotechnology industry and on the EnvironmentalPortection Agency, which approved the crops.
The corn in question is one of five varieties that will be plantedon about 22 million U.s. acres this year. It contains a bacterial genecalled Bt, which makes a chemical deadly to corn borers. The borers cause$1 billion of damage annually. Cornell entomologist John E. Loseysprinkled Bt pollen on milkweed leaves and allowed Monarch larve to feed onthem within four days, 44 persent were dead, scientists reported in today'sissue of the journal Nature.Catherine UrbanCockrell Butterfly Center and Insect ZooHouston Museum of Natural ScienceTel: 713-639-4752FAX: 713-639-4788
The reactions to the Bt corn article and media reports on this list reflecta lack of knowledge of the original study. In one case, a posting reflectsan antiresearch bias, a poor understanding of monarch population biologyand an inadequade understanding of the use of pesticides in field corn.If you are interested in this topic, you might find it valuable to consultone 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 threatto 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 - StudyWednesday, May 19, 1999(Try to find a news org that tells you the name of the company thatmakes this genetically modified corn!)( It's Novartis Inc. see also)By Patricia ReaneyLONDON (Reuters) - In what could be a damaging indictment againstgenetically modified organisms (GMOs), U.S. scientists said pollen fromcorn engineered to reduce pests killed monarch caterpillars in laboratorytests. The hybrid crop, known as Bt-corn, is safe for human consumption andit 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 CornellUniversity, 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 intothe plant genes, making it resistant to a hard-to-control pest called theEuropean corn borer. Last year more than 7 million acres of the crop wereplanted by U.S. farmers.The genetically modified (GM) plants produce a pollen containingcrystalline exdotoxin from the bacterium genes. The pollen can be blownmore than 60 yards onto plants outside the cornfields, including themilkweed that monarchs feed on.Losey and his team fed monarchs milkweed dusted with the pollen fromBt-corn. Their research, published in the science journal Nature, showedthe butterflies ate less than those fed on normal milkweed and nearly halfof the larvae died.Although the research is limited to laboratory tests and there is noevidence of what effect the transformed pollen has on monarch butterfliesin the field, the study highlights some of the worst fears about theeffects of GMOs on the environment.``Monarchs are considered to be a flagship species for conservation. Thisis a warning bell,'' said Linda Rayor, a co-author of the study.``Monarch themselves are not an endangered species right now, but as theirhabitat is disrupted or destroyed, their migratory phenomena is becomingendangered,'' she added.Losey emphasized the need for more data and the need to look at the bigpicture. Although he does not support a moratorium on the planting of GMcrops, he said the proven benefits in terms of increased yields and reducedrates 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 commitmentfrom the industries and the regulatory agencies and academia to get thedata to be able to tell the effects of GM crops on the population,'' hesaid.
The British Medical Association Monday called for a moratorium on theplanting of GMOs until scientists know more about their impact on theenvironment. Britain's Labor government said there is no evidence tojustify a ban.Monarch butterflies and herbicide resistant cropsby Bob Hartzler:January 26, 1999 - What's the connection between these two organisms youask? The monarch migrates each year from southern Canada and theeastern half of the U.S. to a few small sites in the mountains ofcentral Mexico. Researchers in Saskatoon, Saskathewan conducted a studyto determine the range of monarchs during their summer stay in the USand Canada (Science, 8 Jan., 1999. 283:171). They found thatapproximately half of the monarchs were from a relatively narrow-swathfrom Nebraska to Ohio.The researchers were surprised that so much of the population wasconcentrated in the heart of the cornbelt. They expressed concern aboutthe rapid changes in weed control practices occurring in this region.Monarch larvae feed exclusively on milkweed plants, thus reductions inmilkweed populations could have a dramatic impact on monachreproduction. The use of herbicide resistant crops (Roundup Ready,Liberty Link, IMI corn) could provide more effective control of milkweedthan traditional herbicides, thus the concern.Several factors need to be considered when looking at the impact ofHRC's on monarch butterflies: 1) Will the rates and timing of herbicideapplications made to control annual weeds have a significant impact onmilkweed populations?, 2) What percentage of milkweed in the corn beltis found in row crop acres vs in roadsides, pastures and other non-rowcrop areas?, 3) Do monarchs have a site preference for egg laying (rowcrop vs non-row crop)?The researchers pointed out that their findings represent only a singleyear's distribution of monarch butterflies and may not representhistorical patterns. However, it does illustrate the potential impactchanges in weed management strategies could have on the ecosystem.Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist,Department of Agronomy, Iowa State UniversityFor more information contact:ISU Extension Agronomy2104 Agronomy HallAmes, Iowa 50011-1010Voice: (515) 294-1923Fax: (515) 294-9985Monarch WatchEmail: WWW: Dplex-L: send message "info Dplex-L" to Phone: 1 (888) TAGGING (toll-free!) -or- 1 (785) 864 4441Fax: 1 (785) 864 4441 -or- 1 (785) 864 5321Snail: c/o O.R. Taylor, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of KS, Lawrence KS 66045
From Sam Smith's Undernews for the week of May, 17-21www.prorev.org 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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