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04/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Real World Half-Life: Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Still Harming Animals

The Chernobyl disaster, a nuclear reactor explosion and subsequent fire on April 26, 1986, which spewed highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere, continues to harm animal populations in the Ukraine, according to a new study. The study, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, presents the most extensive data set ever compiled on the abundance of animals at and around the Chernobyl site. "Abundance" is relative in this case, however, since scientists Anders Moller and Timothy Mousseau determined that insect, bird and other animal populations have dramatically diminished there in the two decades following the disaster. " Chronic, continuous exposure to low dose radiation appears to be the cause, Mousseau told Discovery News. 2

Throughout this latest study, the researchers controlled for natural population reduction factors, such as soil type, habitat and height of vegetation. Ecosystems tend to fall into equilibrium with time, but if something rapidly kills off the populations of some species, others that are more resistant, or that migrate from elsewhere, might fill their niches and keep them from bouncing back. 1
  1. Real World Half-Life: Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Still Harming Animals (treehugger)
  2. Chernobyl Radiation Still Harming Animals (PlanetGreen)

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