Navigation Links
Bird brains shrink from exposure to contaminants

The regions in robins' brains responsible for singing and mating are shrinking when exposed to high levels of DDT, says new University of Alberta research--the first proof that natural exposure to a contaminant damages the brain of a wild animal.

"These residues have been persisting since the late 1960s--that's what is really disturbing," said Dr. Andrew Iwaniuk, a post-doctoral research fellow in the U of A's Department of Psychology. "It has been years since it has been used and still has this effect."

The new research, published in Behavioural Brain Research, strongly suggests that exposure to environmental levels of DDT causes significant changes in the brains of songbirds.

Previous studies have suggested that exposure to DDT residues affect the brain, but none have actually demonstrated it. The research team, including Iwaniuk's supervisor, psychology professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair Douglas Wong-Wylie, used American Robins to test the idea. Birds are more susceptible to the effects of pesticide residues and other contaminants in the environment than other animals. As well, American robins are often exposed to high levels of DDT and other chemicals because they rely heavily on earthworms as part of their diet. They specifically chose these birds in the Okanagan Valley because at that location they are exposed to high levels of DDT, but relatively low levels of other chemicals.

The researchers captured 18 nestlings and then hand-reared and observed them for two years. They then sectioned the brains and examined the size of several brain regions. "We found that the regions sensitive to reproductive hormones--song production and courtship behaviour--were most affected by DDT," said Iwaniuk. "Song production is extremely important in attracting a mate or to mark out a territory.

"The issue is not that DDT is killing these robins but if they are growing up in this one area and then move to another, they won't b e able to attract any females."

These effects were most prominent in the males, some of which experienced up to a 30 per cent reduction in brain region size compared to males at lower DDT exposure levels.

Whether this also applies to other animals and humans is unclear because there is not yet a strong understanding of how these chemicals in the environment affect the brain, but it is possible that humans exposed to similar levels of DDT will also be at risk of neurological damage.

"The take-home message is that people need to be more cognizant of their use of pesticides and herbicides," said Iwaniuk. "People need to be careful about using chemicals in their homes or farms. Who knows the effects these will have down the road."

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Andrew Iwaniuk, Faculty of Science
University of Alberta
(780)492-7239


'"/>

Source:University of Alberta


Related biology news :

1. Birds brains reveal source of songs
2. Supercomputers to focus brains on AIDS dilemma
3. Mice brains shrink during winter, impairing some learning and memory
4. Divergent life history shapes gene expression in brains of salmon
5. Jumping genes contribute to the uniqueness of individual brains
6. Experts discuss use of human stem cells in ape and monkey brains
7. Sharp older brains are not the same as younger brains
8. Animal brains hard-wired to recognize predators foot movements, Queens study suggests
9. Carnegie Mellon researchers discover key deficiencies in brains of people with autism
10. Gene therapy injected into the brains of mice with Huntingtons disease
11. Scientists identify 36 genes, 100 neuropeptides in honey bee brains
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:5/16/2016)... NEW YORK , May 16, 2016   ... authentication solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded ... provides an unprecedented level of convenience and security with ... to authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait biometrics ... of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... angles, which can be used to compute factors ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today ... a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an ... paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 ... , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew ... escalating cost of cancer care is placing an ... result of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... on quality, regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar on ... on July 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations ...
Breaking Biology Technology: