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Neonicotinoid research continues

February 3, 2023

Elsie Aslesen received her second Student Research Initiative (SRI) grant to continue research after finding neonicotinoid presence in the eggshells of birds last year.

“We started the project last year, and our current work is just building off the baseline we achieved by detecting the presence of neonicotinoids in eggshells last year,” she said.

A senior Biology major, Aslesen started this research with Dr. Kristel Bakker, Professor of Biology.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are insecticides, Aslesen explained. “Last year, we tested for the accumulation of neonics in pheasant eggs. This year, we expanded to 18 different species of birds with many types of diets, habitats, and lifestyles.”

Bakker and Aslesen kept track of when and where the eggs were found, as this information could account for the difference in the amount of neonics that accumulated in different eggs.

During her first SRI on this topic last year, Aslesen shared the importance of the research because humans do many things to the environment without understanding the effects.

The lab results are in, and with over 80 samples, the results are still being analyzed. The research aims to find possible reasons why neonics accumulate in different eggshells, Aslesen said.

“So far, we’ve found that some species have average neonic accumulations that are more or less than others, but there is also variation within species,” she said. “If we do find reasons why neonics accumulate, future research can be done to find the effects of neonicotinoids on the reproduction of birds.”

Aslesen is thankful for having Bakker as a mentor. “Working with her has been exceptionally beneficial because it has exposed me to the scientific research environment and helped me grow the research skills that I will need when I go to graduate school next year and in my future career.”

Next year Aslesen is planning on attending graduate school to study counseling psychology.


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