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The reproduction of white-tailed sea eagles was monitored in 1964–1999 in 3 differently contaminated sub-populations: Baltic Sea coast (Bp), inland central Sweden (Ip) and Lapland (Lp). 249 dead eggs from 205 clutches were obtained for analyses of DDE and PCBs and for eggshell measurements. A desiccation index (Di) value was calculated for each egg as a measure of water loss through the shell. In the highly contaminated Bp, p,p´-DDE concentrations in the eggs decreased continuously and 5-fold during the study period and PCB concentrations decreased 3-fold from the mid 1980s. The PCB pattern changed slightly over time towards more high-chlorinated congeners but the relative toxicity of the PCB mixture, expressed as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEQ), remained constant and TEQ can be assumed to have decreased in a similar way as PCB over time. Productivity (P), shell thickness (St), shell index (Si) and Di increased over time in the Bp but no change in Di or productivity occurred in the Lp, where residue concentrations were 5–8 times lower. P of the Bp was not correlated to St or Si but was negatively correlated to Di, DDE and PCB. An S-shaped dose-response relationship was indicated between P and DDE. After 1988, when the PCB/DDE ratio was considerably higher than previously, PCB but not DDE concentrations were significantly higher in eggs with dead embryos as compared to undeveloped eggs, implying lethal concentrations of PCB, and a LOEL of 320 pg g−1 TEQ is suggested for embryo mortality. In a subset of 21 eggs, representing productive and unproductive females, analyzed for a selection of coplanar PCB congeners, tris(4-chlorophenyl) methanol and bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone, there was no evidence for a correlation between P and any of these compounds. A reduction in residue concentrations in old females did not lead to increased P or improved Di-values, indicating a remaining effect from a previous, higher exposure to contaminants. The inability to reproduce included a high rate of undeveloped eggs, indicating effects at a prezygotic stage. P showed the strongest correlation with Di, and Di was most strongly correlated to DDE. Thus, the remaining effect of previous exposure resulted in a stronger correlation to the symptom (Di) rather than to the suggested causative agent (DDE). LOEL values for depressed P were estimated at 120 µg g−1 DDE and 500 µg g−1 PCB (lipid basis). It is concluded that the major reason for depressed P during the study period was DDE, but that effects also from PCB were largely concealed by the effects from DDE.
Agricultural soil is a contributor of nitrate to natural waters. High nitrate levels in water leached from soils are related to high nitrate concentrations in drinking water, and excess levels change the ecological balance of rivers and lakes. In this paper, sound solutions to the major environmental issue of limiting nitrate leaching by modifying agricultural practices are discussed. The causes of nitrate leaching from agricultural land are briefly explained and existing measures for the reduction of nitrate losses are described, analyzed and evaluated. Reduction of nutrient leaching is not a question of organic or conventional farming, but rather of the introduction and use of appropriate countermeasures. We propose the following guiding principles to minimize leaching from agricultural soils. To some extent these principles require a new way of thinking: i) environmental indexing of fields and consideration of spatial variability within fields in relation to their contribution to leaching losses within a catchment; ii) reduction of nitrogen inputs to soil to levels slightly below those expected to give the optimum yield by applying less nitrogen fertilizer and by a further reduction in animal density; and iii) use of a range of countermeasures (catch crops, minimum tillage, control of biological processes, etc.) depending on how sensitive the farming system, soil and climate are to the risk of nitrate leaching.
In the 1980s, people in Sweden frequently responded to moose (Alces alces) found dead or in poor physical condition. The number of moose submitted for routine investigations to the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) increased tenfold and the hunters in Älvsborg County were especially concerned. Later, a complex wasting syndrome was described and reports of moose suffering from the syndrome have been collected since 1991. Today, there is no definitive answer as to the underlying causel(s) of the syndrome, but there are several plausible hypotheses that can be divided into two groups: food-related and host-parasite related. The food-related hypotheses are post-ulated to have any of the following ultimate causes: acidification/liming, browser density/food production or pollution. Our view is that few of the hypotheses have been critically tested. Most of the hypotheses are supported by some observations, which is to be expected because these are post-hoc attempts to explain these very observations.
This paper examines the problem of the development of models capable of predicting the capacity of the global food production system. In particular, it identifies the various factors influencing the food production, and estimates their relative influence and predictability. The paper discusses also the problems connected with coupling of models representing the “driving” forces, the Earth system consisting of the atmosphere, the ocean and land surface, and food production. The overall conclusions drawn are: i) The time is not yet ripe for designing a comprehensive coupled model for predicting the global food production that takes into account all the factors having a significant influence; ii) the main difficulties are the modelling of the driving forces, e.g. socioeconomic and political factors, and iii) despite these problems, it is judged that results obtained with existing models are capable of providing concrete information for implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures.
The recent decline in species richness in (semi)-natural habitats in northern Europe has largely been attributable to habitat destruction, and to subsequent limitation in seed dispersal among fragments. However, some habitat types were probably split up already in the historical landscape, but the segregated parts were probably not isolated to the present degree. This paper seeks evidence for livestock as vectors for propagules at 3 spatial scales in the past cultural landscape. Three main scales at which livestock acted as seed dispersers are important: free movement in the landscape (1–10 km), driving animals to mast feeding or to manors (10–50 km), and the export of living animals (hundreds of km). The emerging picture is for most plant species a dramatically decreased chance of dispersal in the modern landscape. The consequence is probably decreasing species richness in (semi)-natural plant communities, such as pasture, meadow, and heathland.
Emerging recognition of two fundamental errors under-pinning past polices for natural resource issues heralds awareness of the need for a worldwide fundamental change in thinking and in practice of environmental management. The first error has been an implicit assumption that ecosystem responses to human use are linear, predictable and controllable. The second has been an assumption that human and natural systems can be treated independently. However, evidence that has been accumulating in diverse regions all over the world suggests that natural and social systems behave in nonlinear ways, exhibit marked thresholds in their dynamics, and that social-ecological systems act as strongly coupled, complex and evolving integrated systems. This article is a summary of a report prepared on behalf of the Environmental Advisory Council to the Swedish Government, as input to the process of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa in 26 August 4 September 2002. We use the concept of resilience—the capacity to buffer change, learn and develop—as a framework for understanding how to sustain and enhance adaptive capacity in a complex world of rapid transformations. Two useful tools for resilience-building in social-ecological systems are structured scenarios and active adaptive management. These tools require and facilitate a social context with flexible and open institutions and multi-level governance systems that allow for learning and increase adaptive capacity without foreclosing future development options.