Title: Fukushima offers real-time ecolab
Author: Ewen Callaway
Date: 16 July 2013
[...] Last week [...] biologists studying Fukushima and Chernobyl came together at the annual meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Chicago [...]
What Fukushima data do exist are sporadic — and contested. [...]
[...] Insects collected in May  showed few problems, but their lab-reared offspring had many abnormalities, such as misshapen wings and aberrant eyespots, and many died as pupae (A. Hiyama et al. Sci. Rep. 2, 570; 2012). Among the September-collected butterflies, more than half of the progeny showed such defects.
[...] “You can come up with alternative explanations, but I think the hypothesis that radiation caused death and abnormalities is the most reasonable,” [Joji Otaki, an ecologist at the University of the Ryukyus in Nishihara, Japan] says.
Tim Mousseau, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of South Carolina in Columbia [...] is heading to Fukushima this week to begin his third season of field work [...] His team saw die-offs in some insects and declining numbers of some bird populations [...]
For funding, Otaki says he has had to turn mostly to private foundations. “I think maybe this is a very touchy issue, politically,” he says.[...] The Department of Energy has largely stopped funding its research programme in low-dose exposure, and the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health have awarded few grants [...]
Published: July 16th, 2013 at 3:04 pm ET