Birds, Bees and Fish: Why Are So Many Creatures Dying in 2011?
More than likely the timing is just a coincidence, but after 100,000 fish turned up in a massive fish kill on Thursday, approximately 4,000 birds dropped dead from the sky just before midnight on New Year's Eve, and a new report declared that 96 percent of four species of bees have died off in recent years, the world's ecosystems seem more than a little fragile at the start of 2011.
Surge Desk reviews the not-so-cheery mass die-off news about our nation's birds, bees and fish (to say nothing of recent monarch butterfly declines) and looks at the suspected causes.
While the cause of death for roughly 4,000 red-winged blackbirds over Beebe, Ark., has so far been attributed to "blunt-force trauma," it remains something of a mystery as to what caused said trauma to occur. Leading theories over the midair deaths of so many birds include lightning strikes, a hail storm or stress from New Year's fireworks.
For the past few years, scientists have been tracking what they term a "colony collapse" of honey bees, blaming the death of millions of bees on a range of possible causes, such as pathogens, pesticide use, fungi, stress and even cell phone radiation. Now, a study released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that four other bee species, including the bumble bee, are also in sharp decline. What is behind the dwindling populations? As with the honey bee decline, pathogens and "reduced genetic diversity" are believed to be to blame.
Unlike the birds and the bees, mass die-offs of fish are not uncommon events. But the size of Thursday's fish kill in the Arkansas River is noteworthy. Testing is ongoing at the University of Arkansas to determine the exact cause of death, but researchers tell AOL News that pollution is not believed to be involved. More likely, the drum fish experienced a population boom over the summer, and then, as the fish were competing for food, a cold snap hit, further distressing an already vulnerable population.
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