As part of her PhD studies, Rosie Lennon (University of York), who is co-supervised by PBMS principle investigator Richard Shore, investigated the exposure of farmland birds to neonicotinoid (NN) seed treatments just prior to the ban on their use in the EI in 2018. The findings of this study remain relevant as the treatments are still used elsewhere, and they also provide generic information about the exposure risk to farmland birds from seed treatments.
Clothianidin treated cereal seeds were found on the soil surface at all 25 farms surveyed in the study. Fifteen bird species were observed consuming treated seed at seed piles and clothianidin was detected in the plasma of 10/11 farmland bird species sampled.
The results of the study provide clear evidence that a variety of farmland birds are subject to NN exposure following normal agricultural sowing of NN-treated cereal seed. Furthermore, the widespread availability of seeds at the soil surface was identified as a primary source of exposure.
The full publication (Lennon et al., 2020. From seeds to plasma: confirmed exposure of multiple farmland bird species to clothianidin during sowing of winter cereals. The Science of the Total Environment 723) is now available early online and can be downloaded at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138056