Bird biodiversity is rapidly declining in the U.S. The overall bird population decreased by 29% since 1970, while grassland birds declined by an alarming 53%.
Valuable for so much more than flight and song, birds hold a key place in ecosystems worldwide. When bird numbers and varieties dwindle, pest populations increase and much-needed pollination decreases. Those examples alone negatively impact food production and human health.
Likely reasons for the far-reaching and devastating declines include intensified agricultural production, use of pesticides, conversion of grassland to agricultural land, and climate change. A new study from University of Illinois points to increased use of neonicotinoid insecticides as a major factor in the decline, says Madhu Khanna, distinguished professor in agricultural and consumer economics at U of I and co-author on the paper, published in Nature Sustainability. MORE