Name: Jessica Potts
Project title: Evaluating the long-term impact of neopnicotinoids on the trophic cascade.
Where based: Bangor University
I completed a Master of Science (MSci) in Environmental Sciences at The University of Nottingham in 2017. During my four years at Nottingham I focussed most of my studies on environmental pollution and contamination, completing various topical projects, i) The effects of winter road salting on soil and water chemistry and ii) quantifying heavy metal contamination across different soil fractions.
My project aims to address one of the world’s biggest contemporary environmental challenges, namely how to ensure the continued ecosystem service delivery of neonicotinoid-impacted soil ecosystems. Since 1990, neonicotinoid insecticides have become the most widely used insecticides in the world. Commonly applied as a seed treatment, these chemicals act systemically, travelling through plant tissues and protecting all parts of the crop, however up to 80% of the applied chemicals remain within the soil. Neonicotinoids can persist and accumulate in soils, waterways, field margins and floral resources, with reported levels overlapping substantially with concentrations that are sufficient to control crop pests. The deleterious impacts of neonicotinoids on soil invertebrates are likely to lead to human-induced trophic cascades as these taxa are consumed by higher trophic levels.
The objectives of this project are to-
-Document the spatial and temporal variation in neonicotinoid residues in soils and plants;
-Evaluate the persistence of neonicotinoids and their by-products in soil;
-Evaluate the extent to which neonicotinoid residue concentrations are present in target biotic species;
-Determine whether historical neonicotinoid use has created a human-induced trophic cascade.