Triazoles: A Threat to Wild Birds

According to new research, wild birds living in vineyards are more vulnerable to triazole fungicide contamination than other agricultural landscapes. Field-realistic exposure to these fungicides was discovered to disturb hormones and metabolism, which can affect bird reproduction and survival.

Triazoles: A Threat to Wild Birds
Sparrow in a vineyard. Image Credit: Frederic Angelier.

We found that birds can be highly contaminated by triazoles in vineyards. This contamination was much higher in vineyards relative to other crops, emphasizing that contaminants may especially put birds at risk in these specific agroecosystems.”

Dr. Frédéric Angelier, Senior Researcher, French National Center for Scientific Research, France

Triazoles are fungicides commonly used to eliminate fungal pests from agricultural crops like wheat by disrupting their cell membranes.

While earlier studies of wildlife declines investigated the impact of various agricultural industries, the role of vineyards has largely been overlooked.

However, vineyards cover a large proportion of lands in some European countries and, importantly, they are associated with a massive use of fungicides (up to 5–7 times more than in other crops). Therefore, vineyards are very relevant agroecosystems to assess the impacts of fungicides on wild birds.”

Dr. Frédéric Angelier, Senior Researcher, French National Center for Scientific Research, France

Dr. Angelier and his colleagues merged field experiments to measure real-world fungicide levels with controlled laboratory experiments to evaluate the impact of these fungicide levels on particular aspects of bird health for this study.

To elicit stronger reactions, laboratory studies on the effects of pesticides on wildlife frequently use higher concentrations of the pesticide than are typically seen in real-world scenarios. Dr. Angelier and his colleagues, on the other hand, measured the true contamination of fungicides in vineyard birds as well as birds from other ecosystems such as forests, cities, and crop fields.

They then recreated the fungicide concentrations found in vineyards in the lab to investigate their sub-lethal effects on bird physiology and health.

In that respect, our research helps to better understand how wild birds are affected by pesticides in a realistic world. Impacts to reproduction and survival could lead to a loss of biodiversity or services (such as birds eating other pests).

Dr. Frédéric Angelier, Senior Researcher, French National Center for Scientific Research, France

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