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Radiological dose reconstruction for birds reconciles outcomes of Fukushima with knowledge of dose-effect relationships

​Scientific Reports 5, article 16594 (2015)

Summary

​​We reconstructed the radiological dose for birds observed at 300 census sites in the 50-km northwest area affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant over 2011–2014. Substituting the ambient dose rate measured at the census points (from 0.16 to 31 μGy h−1) with the dose rate reconstructed for adult birds of each species (from 0.3 to 97 μGy h−1), we confirmed that the overall bird abundance at Fukushima decreased with increasing total doses. This relationship was directly consistent with exposure levels found in the literature to induce physiological disturbances in birds. Among the 57 species constituting the observed bird community, we found that 90% were likely chronically exposed at a dose rate that could potentially affect their reproductive success. We quantified a loss of 22.6% of the total number of individuals per increment of one unit log10-tansformed total dose (in Gy), over the four-year post-accident period in the explored area. We estimated that a total dose of 0.55 Gy reduced by 50% the total number of birds in the study area over 2011–2014. The data also suggest a significant positive relationship between total dose and species diversity.


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