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Ecol Appl. 2011 Sep;21(6):2068-81.

Climate change, agricultural insecticide exposure, and risk for freshwater communities.

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Department of System Ecotoxicology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, PermoserstraJle 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.


Climate change exerts direct effects on ecosystems but has additional indirect effects due to changes in agricultural practice. These include the increased use of pesticides, changes in the areas that are cultivated, and changes in the crops cultivated. It is well known that pesticides, and in particular insecticides, affect aquatic ecosystems adversely. To implement effective mitigation measures it is necessary to identify areas that are affected currently and those that will be affected in the future. As a consequence, we predicted potential exposure to insecticide (insecticide runoff potential, RP) under current conditions (1990) and under a model scenario of future climate and land use (2090) using a spatially explicit model on a continental scale, with a focus on Europe. Space-for-time substitution was used to predict future levels of insecticide application, intensity of agricultural land use, and cultivated crops. To assess the indirect effects of climate change, evaluation of the risk of insecticide exposure was based on a trait-based, climate-insensitive indicator system (SPEAR, SPEcies At Risk). To this end, RP and landscape characteristics that are relevant for the recovery of affected populations were combined to estimate the ecological risk (ER) of insecticides for freshwater communities. We predicted a strong increase in the application of, and aquatic exposure to, insecticides under the future scenario, especially in central and northern Europe. This, in turn, will result in a severe increase in ER in these regions. Hence, the proportion of stream sites adjacent to arable land that do not meet the requirements for good ecological status as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive will increase (from 33% to 39% for the EU-25 countries), in particular in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries (from 6% to 19%). Such spatially explicit mapping of risk enables the planning of adaptation and mitigation strategies including vegetated buffer strips and nonagricultural recolonization zones along streams.

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