Spatiotemporal abnormality dynamics of the pale grass blue butterfly: three years of monitoring (2011–2013) after the Fukushima nuclear accident

Atsuki Hiyama, Wataru Taira, Chiyo Nohara, Mayo Iwasaki, Seira Kinjo, Masaki Iwata and Joji M Otaki*

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2015, 15:15  doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0297-1
Published: 10 February 2015

Abstract (provisional)
BackgroundLong-term monitoring of the biological impacts of the radioactive pollution caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 is required to understand what has occurred in organisms living in the polluted areas. Here, we investigated spatial and temporal changes of the abnormality rate (AR) in both field-caught adult populations and laboratory-reared offspring populations of the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, which has generation time of approximately one month. We monitored 7 localities (Fukushima, Motomiya, Hirono, Iwaki, Takahagi, Mito, and Tsukuba) every spring and fall over 3?years (2011?2013).ResultsThe adult ARs of these localities quickly increased and peaked in the fall of 2011, which was not observed in non-contaminated localities. In the offspring generation, the total ARs, which include deaths at the larval, prepupal, and pupal stages and morphological abnormalities at the adult stage, peaked either in the fall of 2011 or in the spring of 2012, with much higher levels than those of the parent field populations, suggesting that high incidence of deaths and abnormalities might have occurred in the field populations. Importantly, the elevated ARs of the field and offspring populations settled back to a normal level by the fall of 2012 and by the spring of 2013, respectively. Similar results were obtained not only in the spatiotemporal dynamics of the number of individuals caught per minute but also in the temporal dynamics of the correlation coefficient between the adult abnormality rate and the ground radiation dose or the distance from the Power Plant.ConclusionsThese results demonstrated an occurrence and an accumulation of adverse physiological and genetic effects in early generations, followed by their decrease and leveling off at a normal level, providing the most comprehensive record of biological dynamics after a nuclear accident available today. This study also indicates the importance of considering generation time and adaptive evolution in evaluating the biological impacts of artificial pollution in wild organisms.

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