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Ecological Effects

The growing concerns surrounding the residual effects of pesticide use extend to concerns related to the environment and natural systems. Pesticides and fertilizers perform the same whether they are on farm land or in a stream or forest, decreasing populations of animal species and invigorating growth. These impacts can throw off the natural balance in the ecosystems, making areas inhabitable and causing negative ripple effects on surrounding species and environments.

Article 1
Moffat, Anne S. "Global Nitrogen Problem Grows Critical." Science 279.5353 (1998): 988-89.

Summary of Article 1
This article discusses growing concerns about the effect of increased levels of nitrogen from fertilizers on the world's ecosystems, specifically aquatic systems. Nitrogen used in fertilizers has the same effect in the wild as it does in garden and farming settings: it helps plants to grow. Scientists are seeing massive blooms of algae and other plants in bodies of water containing excess nitrogen. This new growth depletes water of oxygen, making it extremely difficult for native plants, fish, and other organisms to survive. "Dead zones," where no life is able to survive, are appearing in many areas of the world because of the glut of nitrogen.

Article 2
Boatman, Nigel D., Nicholas W. Brickle, Justin D. Hart, Tim P. Milsom, Anthony J. Morris, Alistrair W. A. Murray, Kathryn A. Murray, and Peter A. Robertson. "Evidence for the indirect effects of pesticides on farmland birds." Ibis 146 (2004): 131-43.|
Summary of Article 2
This study examines the indirect effects of pesticides on farmland birds, threatening their survival. Indirect effects are caused not when pesticides kill birds directly, but when pesticides kill birds' food sources or destroy the food sources' habitat. The researchers focused on a variety of species of farmbirds and compared their populations, number of nests, and chick mortality rates on farms with their levels of pesticide exposure to asses the indirect effects they experienced. They found that insecticides specifically had an impact on farmbird survival, predominantly due to loss of food sources.

Article 3
Davidson, Carlos. "Declining Downwind: Amphibian Population Declines in California and Historical Pesticide Use." Ecological Applications 14.6 (2004): 1892-902.

Summary of Article 3
This study evaluates the relationship between pesticide use and declines in populations of several species of amphibians. Specifically, the researcher was interested in how pesticides applied to land can drift downwind and adversely affect frogs and toads a distance away from agricultural areas. Using historical data on pesticide use in California and previous and current populations of four species of amphibians, the study found dramatic population declines in areas downwind of continued pesticide use. The correlation was strongest with organophosphate pesticides.

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