Wildlife abundance 30 years after Chernobyl disaster

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Plazma Inferno!, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    While humans are still scarce in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone 30 years after the world's largest nuclear accident, continued studies—including a just-published camera study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory—validate findings that wildlife populations are abundant at the site.
    The camera study is the first remote-camera scent-station survey conducted within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, or CEZ. The study's results document species prevalent in the zone and support earlier findings that animal distribution is not influenced by radiation levels.

    http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/30-years-chernobyl-uga-camera-study-wildlife-abundance-0416/

    Paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1227/abstract
     
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  3. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    You can add to that the boar population have increased 300 % in Japan since the nuclear accident
     
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That's deceptive in the extreme.

    For all they know, every carnivore in the high radiation zones is immigrant from a lower rad zone, and dies on average after half the lifespan of the littermates it left behind.

    Successful, undisturbed carnivores expand their ranges rapidly, by parents kicking their young out of their natal territory. Most of these young find all suitably provisioned range already occupied by adults capable of killing them, so they end up trying to survive in marginal environments and not succeeding. If they are lucky enough to find a decent range unoccupied, they move in and live themselves - at least, one or two of those moving in will take over. So the fact that carnivore populations fill the available good range around Chernobyl says almost nothing about the effects of the radiation except that it does not kill outright in a short amount of time.

    Such considerations are even more pertinent with herbivores.
     
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  7. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    Sweden's reindeer are still radioactive after 30 years

    Thirty years on from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, traces of radioactive material can still be found in northern Sweden's elk and reindeer populations.
    The nuclear reactor tragedy in the town of Chernobyl, north of Kiev, on April 26th 1986, led to much of Sweden being covered in a toxic cloud of radioactive iodine and cesium-137. When the rain came, the area around Gävle in the southern part of the Norrland region took the brunt of the radioactive pollution.

    With only days to go to the 30th anniversary of the disaster, traces of increased radiation levels can still be found in Sweden's wild elk and reindeer, which are herded by the indigenous Sami community.

    "The levels are low for slaughtered reindeer, but this doesn't happen automatically – the Sami people are working very hard on this," Pål Andersson, researcher at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten), told the TT newswire on Thursday.

    In the past two years, only two out of around 50,000 reindeer in Sweden have been classed as unfit to consume due to high radiation levels. But the preventative work is likely to continue for many years to come.

    "They will probably have to keep these special arrangements going for a long time, like special feeding of the reindeer, altered slaughter periods and actively moving reindeer from contaminated areas," said Andersson.

    Meanwhile, cesium levels in elk, while low, are not decreasing as rapidly as they did in earlier years.

    "It's gone very slowly lately. But it varies a lot between individual elks. If you as a consumer want to know how much cesium there is in an elk the specific elk has to be examined," said Andersson.
     
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Except that species that have a narrow range are thriving as well. It is, undoubtedly, the healthiest ecosystem in the area. Not because of the radiation, but because people are far more poisonous to ecosystems than radiation. Compared to the benefits of removing all the people, the increased mutation rate barely makes a dent in the health of the animal populations there.
     
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Unfortunate for the reindeer. If radiation levels were higher in the animals they would likely fare far better - because humans would be much more likely to leave them alone.
     
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Says who? Not that study.

    There are no carnivores sufficiently narrow ranged and slow-spreading to allow conclusions to be drawn by that crude a comparison of high and low radiation areas within that small a region. The data there do not allow the conclusion that the effects of the radiation are minor.

    I'd go further: the approach reported is fundamentally flawed, biased as it is to highly mobile and large animals - exactly the ones least likely to provide meaningful data. The only thing they learned is that big, active, mobile mammals do not avoid high radiation areas. One would have predicted that, simply by the fact that radiation is odorless and tasteless and invisible to mammals.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016

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