AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

A NEWclear Life

In a recent study at the University of Georgia, images of many different species of animals have been taken in Fukushima, Japan, where there was a nuclear disaster nine years ago. The people in the area had been evacuated to a safer place so that they wouldn’t suffer from the toxic radiation that causes cancer. However, animals like the wild boar, black bear, macaque, and raccoon dog (my pick for March Mammal Madness 2017) have been photographed in the area. Intrigued by how this could be possible, a team went to take data by taking tens of thousands of images of the different species.

Cameras were set in three different zones: high radiation, intermediate radiation, and low radiation. Humans are still inhabiting the low radiation area because it is safe enough where there is minimal contamination. Despite the nuclear contamination, most of the species inhabited the high radiation zone and the least inhabited the low radiation zone. 26,000 images of wild boars were taken in the uninhabited zone, 13,000 images in the restricted zone, and 7,000 in the inhabited zone. This was due to the fact that the animals were trying to stay away from human interaction and development. The team also evaluated the time of day when the animals were active, the elevation, and the type of terrain. Animals like the raccoon continued to be nocturnal in the uninhabited zone, while the wild boar was even more active during the day than before since it did not have to worry about being hunted. The Japanese serow differed from the rest of the animals as it actually spent more time in the human-inhabited zone because of the higher boar population in the uninhabited zone.

Although many would assume that animals would stray away from areas of high radiation like humans, the contrary occurred in Fukushima. The results showed that factors like human interaction, elevation, and habitat type played a larger role than the radiation levels for population size. How do you think these animals are able to survive in these conditions?

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  1. mitochondriana

    Your article was really cool, Kangyotype! It’s interesting to know that the boars in the uninhabited areas had a different lifestyle to those living in the inhabited areas. I don’t really understand how their exposure to radiation changes their circadian cycle. I did a little research on how this could happen. Here is the link .

  2. liambilicalcord

    Interesting article Kangyotype! I was recently reading about a similar nuclear disaster that took place at Chernobyl. A similar event has occurred where animals are inhabiting the dangerous areas over those that have a human presence. While the radiation levels are much lower and close to safe levels at Chernobyl, many heavily hunted animals are thriving there as there is no predator to hunt them any longer. You can read more about it here if you are interested. ( Thanks for the great read!

  3. ionizingjadeation

    What an interesting blog post, kangyotype! It is so fascinating to see how most animals in Fukushima, Japan inhabited areas with high levels of radiation rather than areas with low levels of radiation. I was shocked to see how animals prioritized staying away from human interaction and development over inhabiting areas with low levels of radiation. I did some more research regarding these animals in Fukushima and I found that while the researches didn’t test these animals for radiation, they think that many of them received significant doses based on where they were spotted. I found this fact very interesting because animal populations were said to be generally growing, which I would assume should be the opposite if these animals received significant doses of radiation.

  4. jervissystem

    That is very interesting how the animals, contrary to what might typically happen, were able and willing to survive in the areas where there was higher radiation. The two main factors that are causing these animals to grow and develop better than they would have without the nuclear accident is the lack of people but also the radiation. The lack of people creates less of a busy and dangerous environment both in terms of active and passive human harm. However, the cameras did reveal that there was no impact on the birds or mammals in the sites with high radiation. But the question becomes whether the radiation has begun to take its effect on the animals and as time goes on will the animals and their population numbers begin to decrease due to sickness? To learn more about this strange phenomenon look at the website, “”. Overall, it will be interesting to see in the next few years how the radiation will effect the animals and how or why they are or are not getting ill.

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