[ RadSafe ] RE: Article on Chernobyl

Strickert, Rick rstrickert at signaturescience.com
Mon Mar 30 11:58:00 CDT 2009

The newspaper is probably referring to "Reduced abundance of insects and spiders linked to radiation at Chernobyl 20 years after the accident," Anders Pape Møller and Timothy A. Mousseau, Biology Letters, published online before print March 18, 2009.


Abstract: Effects of low-level radiation on abundance of animals are poorly known. We conducted standardized point counts and line transects of bumble-bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spider webs at forest sites around Chernobyl differing in background radiation by over four orders of magnitude. Abundance of invertebrates decreased with increasing radiation, even after controlling for factors such as soil type, habitat and height of vegetation. These effects were stronger when comparing plots differing in radiation within rather than among sites, implying that the ecological effects of radiation from Chernobyl on animals are greater than previously assumed. 

In 2007 there were a couple of Biol. Lett. articles by Møller dealing with Chernobyl:

1. "Species richness and abundance of forest birds in relation to radiation at Chernobyl," Biol. Lett. 3 (2007), 483-486, A. P. Møller and T. A. Mousseau

2. "Elevated frequency of abnormalities in barn swallows from Chernobyl," by Møller, A. P., Mousseau, T. A., de Lope, F. & Saino, N. in Biol. Lett. 3 (2007), 414-417.

There was a comment, "Is Chernobyl radiation really causing negative individual and population level effects on barn swallows?" in Biol. Lett. (2008) 4, 63-64, from J. T. Smith, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3QL, UK

Smith raised the issue that "it is very possible that apparent impacts on barn swallows are instead due to the abandonment of land by people."

A response to Smith was made in "Anecdotes and empirical research in Chernobyl," A.P Møller, T.A Mousseau, F de Lope, and N Saino, Biol. Lett. February 23, 2008 4:65-66, including this closing comment:

"Why has there been no concerted effort to monitor the long-term effects of Chernobyl on free-living organisms and humans? The official reports by IAEA, WHO and UNDP were narrative renditions of parts of the literature, and these reports, with Smith as co-author, concluded that Chernobyl was a thriving ecosystem with increasing populations of animals (Chernobyl Forum 2005; EGE 2005), despite no census data existing."

Rick Strickert
Austin, TX

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of Conklin, Al (DOH)
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 10:54 AM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Article on Chernobyl

I noticed an article in the Tacoma Washington paper earlier this week
describing an article in the journal Biology Letters by Anders Moller of
the University of Paris-Sud and Timothy Mousseau, describing a
dramatically lower number of insects and other invertebrates in the area
around Chernobyl 22 years after the disaster. They also state that "the
numbers of organisms declined with increasing contamination." 
This seems contrary to all I've heard and read about the animal
population thriving in those areas. Does anyone know about this study or
these two researchers and whether their results are credible or not?

Al Conklin
Lead Trainer and Health Physicist
Radiological Emergency Preparedness Section
Office of Radiation Protection
Department of Health
office: 360-236-3261
cell: 360-239-1237

You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list

Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the RadSafe rules. These can be found at: http://radlab.nl/radsafe/radsaferules.html

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: http://radlab.nl/radsafe/

More information about the RadSafe mailing list