National Wolfwatcher Coalition National Wolfwatcher Coalition
mobile menu

Resources » Predator/Prey Relationships » General » Are Toxic Agrichemicals Forcing Rapid Evolution in Yellowstone Elk?

Are Toxic Agrichemicals Forcing Rapid Evolution in Yellowstone Elk?

Posted on

Population declines were documented in multiple ruminant species in Montana and surrounding states starting in 1995. While weather, food sources, and predation certainly contributed, the declines were often attributed, at least partly, to unexplained factors. Use of teratogenic agrichemicals, notably neonicotinoid insecticides, fungicides, and glyphosate-based herbicides, massively increased regionally in 1994–96. The question explored in this review is whether this vastly increased use of these teratogenic pesticides might have contributed to observed population declines. We provide references and data documenting that specific developmental malformations on vertebrates can be associated with exposure to one or more of these agrichemicals. These pesticides are known to disrupt thyroid and other hormonal functions, mitochondrial functions, and biomineralization, all of which are particularly harmful to developing fetuses. Exposures can manifest as impaired embryonic development of craniofacial features, internal and reproductive organs, and musculoskeletal/integumental systems, often resulting in reproductive failure or weakened neonates. This paper reviews: a) studies of ruminant populations in the region, especially elk and white-tailed deer, prior to and after 1994; b) published and new data on underdeveloped facial bones in regional ruminants; c) published and new data on reproductive abnormalities in live and necropsied animals before and after 1994; and d) studies documenting the effects of exposures to three of the most applied teratogenic chemicals. While answers to the question posed above are complex and insufficient evidence is available for definitive answers, this review provides ideas for further consideration.

Document: Elk-and-chemicals.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Judith A Hoy, Gary T Haas, Pamela Hallock

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Wolf Paw Print
National Wolfwatcher Coalition