Pesticide contaminating prairie wetlands

Photo Caption:  Peter Vanderheyden Photo Caption: Peter Vanderheyden

A current research study examining Saskatchewan prairie wetlands is finding that pesticides are wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. The study is being conducted by University of Saskatchewan biologist Christy Morrissey, who has identified neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that has been linked to bee deaths, as having a negative effect on prairie insects and the animals that rely on those insects to thrive. Neonicotinoids are used in a wide variety of crops, and their use has been skyrocketing over the past five years. Some estimates claim that 44% of prairie cropland is treated with neonicotinoids. Morrissey has been finding neonicotinoids at high concentrations in the wetlands she studies, with peak concentrations of over 100 times higher than safe benchmark levels. Unfortunately, these high levels could affect not only the native insects of the wetlands, but also cascade into affecting bird populations and other animals that rely on insects for food.