Contamination of wild plants near neonicotinoid seed-treated crops, and implications for non-target insects

Botías, Cristina, David, Arthur, Hill, Elizabeth M and Goulson, David (2016) Contamination of wild plants near neonicotinoid seed-treated crops, and implications for non-target insects. Science of the Total Environment, 566-67. pp. 269-278. ISSN 0048-9697

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Neonicotinoid insecticides are commonly-used as seed treatments on flowering crops such as oilseed rape. Their persistence and solubility in water increase the chances of environmental contamination via surface-runoff or drainage into areas adjacent to the crops. However, their uptake and fate into non-target vegetation remains poorly understood. In this study, we analysed samples of foliage collected from neonicotinoid seed-treated oilseed rape plants and also compared the levels of neonicotinoid residues in foliage (range: 1.4 – 11 ng/g) with the levels found in pollen collected from the same plants (range: 1.4 – 22 ng/g). We then analysed residue levels in foliage from non-target plants growing in the crop field margins (range: ≤ 0.02 – 106 ng/g). Finally, in order to assess the possible risk posed by the peak levels of neonicotinoids that we detected in foliage for farmland phytophagous and predatory insects, we compared the maximum concentrations found against the LC50 values reported in the literature for a set of relevant insect species. Our results suggest that neonicotinoid seed-dressings lead to widespread contamination of the foliage of field margin plants with mixtures of neonicotinoid residues, where levels are very variable and discontinuous, but sometimes overlap with lethal concentrations reported for some insect species. Understanding the distribution of pesticides in the environment and their potential effects on biological communities is crucial to properly assess current agricultural management and schemes with biodiversity conservation aims in farmland.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: David Goulson
Date Deposited: 11 May 2016 10:19
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2020 12:15

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