Nitrogen from excess manure kills off butterflies and great tits: AD

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Nitrogen from excess manure kills off butterflies and great tits: AD

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Too much nitrogen in the environment from excess manure has killed off 30% of butterflies in the Netherlands, the AD reports.

Researchers Michiel Wallis de Vries from Wageningen University and nitrogen expert Roland Bobbink have found that butterflies’ habitats have been steadily deteriorating over the last 20 years.

Of the Dutch red list of endangered butterfly species, 17 have disappeared altogether. The numbers of another 23 species, not on the list, have been falling as well. ‘Important species such as the tree grayling used to be widespread but now it can only be found in the Veluwe area. 

Alcon Blues, which used to live in grassland, are now only spotted in wetlands and there too their number is falling,’ they told the paper. Nitrogen is produced by industry and traffic but the main culprit is agriculture.

Wallis de Vries thinks that a 2015 agreement on limiting excess manure does not go far enough. ‘In the end agriculture will have to become sustainable in the interest of everyone.

The rapid decline in bio diversity shows it will have to happen sooner than later,’ he told the paper.

Great Tit

The findings come in the wake of a study into great tits in the Veluwe area. Nitrogen causes a lack of calcium in the woods which makes the birds’ bones so brittle that the chicks break their legs while still in the nest and die as a consequence, biologist Arnold van den Burg told the paper.

‘If we continue like this the woods will become very quiet,’ the paper quotes him as saying. (DutchNews)

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