Systematic neonicotinoid use decreases ecosystem services

Photo credit: USFWS mountain-prarie Photo credit: USFWS mountain-prarie

A recent review article published in Environmental Science Pollution Research seeks to understand how the widespread use of neonicotinoids affects ecosystems and the services that those ecosystems provide to human beings. Ecosystem services, defined as “the benefits that people obtain from natural systems,” can include services as pollination, pest regulation, water purification, and nutrient cycling. The authors focused their assessment on terrestrial soil ecosystem functions, freshwater ecosystem functions, fisheries, biological pest control and pollination. They found that systemic use of neonicotinoid insecticides had negative impacts on ecosystem services including decomposition and nutrient cycling, and was detrimental to beneficial insect populations including earthworms and pollinators. While fish were not particularly sensitive to sub-lethal levels of neonicotinoids, aquatic insects, an important food source for fish, were very sensitive, raising concerns that fisheries may be indirectly affected. The authors “recommend improved sustainable agriculture practices that restrict systemic