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Biol Lett. 2009 Jun 23;5(3):356-9. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0778. Epub 2009 Mar 18.

Reduced abundance of insects and spiders linked to radiation at Chernobyl 20 years after the accident.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS UMR 8079, Bâtiment 362, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France. anders.moller@u-psud.fr

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.

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