New York Times
By RACHEL NUWER
July 12, 2012, 9:58 am
For their study, published in the journal Ecological Indicators, [Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, and colleagues] conducted 1,198 censuses of spiders, grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, bumblebees, cicadas and birds in Chernobyl and Fukushima.
In Fukushima, they found that the abundance of birds, butterflies and cicadas had decreased significantly as the level of radiation increased. Bumblebees, dragonflies and grasshoppers were not affected by the release of radioactive materials, however. Surprisingly, spiders actually increased in abundance with the rise in radiation.
Dr. Mousseau speculates that perhaps the insect prey that spiders normally feed on are weaker and easier to catch in the radioactive zones, and that spiders are possibly not particularly sensitive to the immediate contaminants. He predicts that over the long term, the spiders, bees, dragonflies and grasshoppers will eventually begin to drop off.
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