By Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com
Scientists are focusing on Japan's Fukushima area after a study published this week found an alarming development at another nuclear disaster site -- Chernobyl.
The proportion of female birds has fallen off since the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, the study found, and that appears to be causing male birds to increase their chirping in efforts to find a mate.
"The Chernobyl zone is a population sink, or an ecological trap, that brings in new birds each year but these birds suffer lower survival," co-author Tim Mousseau, a University of South Carolina biologist, told msnbc.com.
"In other words," he said, "the Chernobyl zone is not an eden for wildlife" as some have claimed.
He's expecting even worse results at Fukushima.
A team did an initial survey last summer, counting 1,929 birds from among 45 species.
"Our expectation was that it would take many years and many generations of exposure for the cumulative effects" to show as they have in Chernobyl, Mousseau said.
"However, once we started our field work we realized that contamination levels were much higher than expected, even in July when we did our surveys," he said, "and it is likely that doses to these birds were very high in March and April when many of the birds were arriving to the area to initiate breeding."
Full story at MSNBC World News.