aspermy, background radiation, Barn Swallow, Belarus, Bird Reproduction, Chernobyl, chronic exposure radiation, dangers ionizing radiation, DNA damage, fecundity, fertility, infertility, ionizing radiation, mutations, NPP, nuclear accident, nuclear power, radiation, radioactive contaminant, reproduction, Sperm motility, Ukraine, wildlife
Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/refuge/willapa/wildlife_and_habitat/barn_swallow.html
Bonisoli-Alquati (2010) et. al., studying Barn Swallows, “found that chronic exposure to radioactive contaminants, even 20 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, continues to induce DNA damage in cells of free-living animals” (Emphasis added; see Abstract at the very bottom of this post)
In June 2014, Møller et. al. reported that “The observed negative effect of radiation on reproductive traits in birds at the individual levels may help explain the observed decline in wild bird populations in the most contaminated areas in Chernobyl … shows how external environmental perturbations could impair traits that are crucial for reproductive success and hence fitness.” Very importantly they note that “the sex ratio is more male biased at higher levels of radiation.” (Excerpted from Møller et. al. (2014), below; emphasis added) Male biased sex ratio means that there are more males than females. While misogynists and male homosexuals can rejoice, such a trend will ultimately spell death of most species, if not stopped. Females being more sensitive to ionizing radiation is strange and worrisome. Generally the female sex is tougher and the sex ratio leans a tiny bit to the side of more females than males.
If you are under 18 years old, ask for parental permission-guidance before reading the articles below. Skipping page 2, column 2, sampling details, of Møller et. al., 2014, is recommended for non-experts (details you probably don’t want to know).
The Møller et. al. (2014) article is especially interesting in the context of ongoing, unexplained, worldwide drops in human sperm count, occurring in conjunction with increased testicular cancer. See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-warn-of-sperm-count-crisis-8382449.html (By Jeremy Laurance, Wednesday 05 December 2012)
Note background as microsieverts per hour. To get annual rates you need to multiply by 24 (hours) and then by 365 (days in year). There are 1000 microsieverts in a millisievert (mSv).
Ugly yellow and red added by us. It’s not a pretty topic so we wanted an ugly, yet easy to read, highlight. Original with no highlight as pdf here: http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0100296&representation=PDF
Citation: Møller AP, Bonisoli-Alquati A, Mousseau TA, Rudolfsen G (2014) Aspermy, Sperm Quality and Radiation in Chernobyl Birds. PLoS ONE 9(6): e100296. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100296
“DNA damage in barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) from the Chernobyl region detected by use of the comet assay“, by Bonisoli-Alquati A, Voris A, Mousseau TA, Møller AP, Saino N, Wyatt MD.
Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2010 Apr;151(3):271-7.
We investigated levels of DNA damage in blood cells of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) inhabiting the Chernobyl region to evaluate whether chronic exposure to low-level radioactive contamination continues to induce genetic damage in free-living populations of animals. Blood samples were obtained from barn swallows collected at sites with different background levels of radiation, including a relatively uncontaminated area. The extent of DNA damage was evaluated using the alkaline (pH=12.1) comet assay, a robust and sensitive electrophoresis-based technique widely employed in research ranging from biomonitoring to clinical studies. We found that levels of DNA damage, as indexed by the extent of DNA migration, were increased in barn swallows living in areas surrounding Chernobyl when compared to swallows sampled at low-level sites. The results we obtained are consistent with previous findings on this same species, which showed that swallows breeding in areas heavily contaminated with radionuclides have increased mutation rates, higher oxidative stress and incidence of morphological aberrations and tumors. Overall, these results indicate that chronic exposure to radioactive contaminants, even 20 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, continues to induce DNA damage in cells of free-living animals“. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19941973 (Emphasis our own).