Effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident on goshawk reproduction

Kaori Murase, Joe Murase, Reiko Horie & Koichi Endo
AffiliationsContributionsCorresponding author
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 9405 doi:10.1038/srep09405
Received 21 November 2014 Accepted 03 March 2015 Published 24 March 2015

Although the influence of nuclear accidents on the reproduction of top predators has not been investigated, it is important that we identify the effects of such accidents because humans are also top predators. We conducted field observation for 22 years and analysed the reproductive performance of the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis fujiyamae), a top avian predator in the North Kanto area of Japan, before and after the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that occurred in 2011. The reproductive performance declined markedly compared with the pre-accident years and progressively decreased for the three post-accident study years. Moreover, it was suggested that these declines were primarily caused by an increase in the air dose rate of radio-active contaminants measured under the nests caused by the nuclear accidents, rather than by other factors. We consider the trends in the changes of the reproductive success rates and suggest that internal exposure may play an important role in the reproductive performance of the goshawk, as well as external exposure.