Pesticides

The effects of pesticides run deep

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 940
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.940-a

Pesticides affect earthworms in a variety of ways

PHOTO: © ALEX FIELDHOUSE/ALAMY

Many pesticides negatively affect pollinators, such as bees, but how do they affect soil-dwelling organisms such as earthworms, which help enhance the nutrient availability of soil? Gaupp-Berghausen et al. addressed this by testing the effects of a commonly used glyphosphate-containing herbicide on two species of earthworms in a greenhouse experiment. They found that herbicide treatment reduced an activity called casting that promotes soil health in one species and decreased the ability of the other species to reproduce by nearly 50%. Soil concentrations of nitrate and phosphate, which can negatively affect the surrounding environment, also increased. These results emphasize that pesticides probably have effects on ecosystems that go well beyond what we might predict or recognize.

Sci. Rep. 5, 12886 (2015).

Navigate This Article