Wednesday, March 31, 2004

SOD-OR

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has confirmed that 5 of the 42 Oregon nurseries that received shipments from a nursery in California got plants that were contaminated with sudden oak death fungus (Phytophthora ramorum). As reported by Bend.com, all the plants received at those nurseries, which have been under quarantine, will now be destroyed. Results from several more nurseries are expected soon. Read more news about sudden oak death from this ISW post.

Update 4/1: The Florida Department of Agriculture is also reporting that infected plants were found at nurseries in their state that received shipments from California. Get a list of plants regulated and associated with sudden oak death from APHIS by clicking here (.pdf).

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

China Syndromes

This story from China Daily describes two invasive insects causing problems in Northern China. The American white moth (Hyphantria cunea) attacks the foliage of trees, while the red turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus valens), also native to North America, prefers the bark of pine trees. There appears to be great concern about the possibility of the insects eventually spreading to Beijing. The article also mentions that China's top political advisory body submitted a proposal indicating that invasive species cost the country almost $7 billion annually. A similar article was posted last week at the Beijing Portal.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Virus Alert

The browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) is a distant cousin of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) that packs a powerful poison punch. As reported on Nature.com, browntail caterpillars not only strip foliage from shrubs and trees, they can cause rashes, respiratory problems and even death in the unlucky humans who touch them. Now that the browntail moth is making a reappearance in New England, scientists are fighting back by spraying trees with a mixture containing a high concentration of a baculovirus to kill the moths. The baculovirus was selected because it naturally infects the moths, and does not seem to adversely affect related species. For more information on this topic, there is a great feature from February 2003 at the MaineToday website about the browntail. Also, earlier this month the Invasive Species Weblog featured this post about a virus that targets the gypsy moth.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Jelly's Last Jam?

Iranian scientists hoping to stop the spread of the comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Caspian Sea by introducing more of another invader. As reported by the Boston Globe, the comb jellyfish, native to the east coast of the U.S. (how much of it I'm not sure!), were introduced to the Black Sea about twenty years ago. Since then, they have devasted fisheries by devouring eggs, larvae, and plankton, and have now set their sights on the Caspian Sea. In hopes of preventing serious damage, the scientists will be releasing specially bred populations of the jellyfishes' native predator, Beroe ovata (also a comb jellyfish). Bonus points to the Globe for using scientific names.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Plant Food

allAfrica.com has this interesting story about an entrepreneur who creates liquid and pelleted fertilizer from water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) plants. When he first began the project in Uganda, he did not even realize what plant he was harvesting for his product. Since then, he has shown that many nutrients can be extracted from water hyacinth, and has even used it to formulate animal feed.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to this story.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Replacing the Ballast

U.S. lawmakers and environmentalists are speaking out about the International Maritime Organization's new ballast water regulations, saying that they're too weak to do any good. As reported by the Kansas City Star, the IMO settled on 10-50 non-native organisms per 1 cubic meter of ballast water (depending on their size), but the U.S. wanted .01 organisms per 1 m^3. The regulations aren't set to go into effect until the year 2016. For background about this historic international agreement, brokered by the United Nation's IMO, check out these previous ISW entries.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

More Money, More Money!

Last week two U.S. senators announced that the USDA has allocated almost $30 million to fight the emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis). As reported by the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, the majority of funds are likely to go to Michigan, with some money going to Ohio and other states. Michigan has an emerald ash borer policy director that will be coordinating control efforts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Drink Tea Instead!

According to this report from China View, coffee berry beetles (Hypothenemus hampei) were recently found in China in a bag of coffee beans imported from Hong Kong. This is the first time the beetle, native to Africa, has been discovered in the province of Hainan. The shipment was destroyed after the beetles were found.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Kelp is on the way

The New Zealand Deprtment of Conservation recently released this monograph (.pdf file) about the marine seaweed Undaria pinnatifida. In it you'll find a description of this species' life history, along with detailed discussions about negative impacts, pathways of invasion, and a whole bunch of references. Well worth the read if you're a stakeholder on the California coast.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the story.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Strangers in the Nest?

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently announced that their Birdhouse Network (TBN) is expanding to collect data on whether nest boxes are being used by native or non-native bird species. TBN is a volunteer citizen science project whose members enter bird-watching data via a web interface. Anyone in the U.S. can join (for a small fee).

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Is Somebody Mapping This?

The invasive marine algae Caulerpa brachypus continues to spread through Martin County, Florida. As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the algae has been spotted in an area of the Loxahatchee River prone to salt water influx. So far scientists have only seen unrooted, floating fragments of the algae in the river. Read more about the Martin County invasion from previous ISW posts.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

On Separate Shores

The Boston Globe is reporting on the interesting debate going on over the management of Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) in Lake Cochituate, part of Cochituate State Park, which is bordered by the towns of Framingham, Natick and Wayland, MA. The Natick Conservation Commission granted permission a while back for the application of herbicide in parts of the lake to kill the milfoil, an invasive aquatic weed. The response was delayed by people concerned about the effect that chemicals could have on a nearby water supply. In the meantime, the milfoil invasion has gotten so bad, a stronger herbicide must be used. While recreational use of the lake is definitely being impeded by the weeds, the application of herbicide would only be a temporary fix, and a long-term management plan is in the works.

Friday, March 19, 2004

More on SOD

The discovery of plants infected with sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) at a nursery in California last week has led to several developments:

  • Some news sources are now reporting that SOD was found at a second nursery in California: Specialty Plants Inc.
  • The following states have banned the import of nursery stock from California: Florida, Georgia, Alabama (camellias only); Washington has a 1-day delay in place.
  • Perhaps due to increased press, IC Wales is reporting that SOD has been found in two formal gardens in Britain.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

New in the Literature

More recently published journal articles:

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

East Meets West

ESPN Outdoors is reporting that this spring, biologists will be out in force to interview boaters in Oklahoma and Kansas. The biologists, armed with PDAs, will be there to gather data about boaters' habits, such as where they boat and how often they clean their vessels. The effort is part of the 100th Meridian Initiative, which seeks to keep zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and other aquatic invasive species out of the western U.S. With zebra mussel larvae already found along lower portions of the Missouri River, the 100th Meridian team has their work cut out for them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Catch and Release

Concerned about the potential introduction of non-native fungi and insects on ornamental plants, the Washington State Department of Agriculture issued an emergency ruling last Friday, requiring nurseries to hold out-of-state plant material for one business day after notifying the WSDA of the shipment. As reported by the San Juan Islander, the ruling applies only to trees, shrubs and woody vines, and is supported by the nursery industry. The full text of the ruling can be found here (.pdf file).

Monday, March 15, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Clear Waters?

The invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) has been credited in the past for its ability to increase water clarity, but this may not last for much longer. According to this report from ScienceDaily, a study of Michigan lakes found that zebra mussel invasions cause an increase in blooms of the toxic blue-green algae Microcystis. Interestingly, this is true only for lakes with low to normal nutrient levels; those plagued with high levels of phosphorus due to an influx of runoff from farms or sewage did not have the same problem. Blooms of Microcystis algae have been known to kill animals and cause liver damage in humans.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

SOD off!

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) has been found on camellia plants at a California nursery. Unfortunately, the nursery, Monrovia Growers, had already sold some of the plants to people outside of the state. Scientists and government officials met in California earlier this week to discuss the problem at a conference held by the California Oak Mortality Task Force. Sudden oak death is caused by a fungal infection, and as its name suggests, it can quickly kill many different species of oak trees. Bonus points to the Chronicle for using SOD's scientific name, and extra bonus points for seeking out the appropriately named Steve Oak, an employee from the U.S. Forest Service's North Carolina office, for a quote.

Thanks to Owen for sending in the link to this story.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Snakehead!!!!!

Is a Snakehead (Channa spp.) scarier than Knotweed? Judge for yourself by watching the new Sci-Fi original movie, "Snakehead Terror." Featuring Bruce Boxleitner (who's obviously killing time waiting around for a decent B5 spinoff...or maybe that's me :-), the movie is about the terror imparted on a small town by a mutated snakehead fish. You can read the IMDB entry here. For something a bit more realistic, you might want to check out "Swarm of the Snakehead," featured in an ISW post last year.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the story.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Knotweed!!!!!

The Nature Conservancy's Wildland Invasive Species Team has posted a link to a new 30-second public outreach video titled "Knotweed!" It features a happy couple who take a small Japanese knotweed cutting (Polygonum cuspidatum, Fallopia japonica) into their garden and are "stalked" by the evil creature. Well worth the download time for this 4Mb file.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Ivy League Defeat

On Tuesday, residents of Mercer Island (off the coast of Washington state) resoundingly defeated the "Ivy Initiative," a proposal that would have increased property taxes to fund a $12.5 million project to remove invasive plants from the island city. According to this article in The Seattle Times, backers of the proposal are keeping a positive outlook, hoping that they raised public awareness about invasive species. You can read about the history of the proposal in previous ISW posts.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Pulling Seaweeds

The Mercury News is reporting that Japanese kelp (Undaria pinnatifida) has invaded Monterey Bay, California. Though the article seems to imply that this is a newly discovered infestation, this web page notes the invasion was first discovered back in 2001. There is currently a major eradication effort underway by volunteer divers, but they are having trouble keeping up with the algae's high regeneration rate. Bonus points to the Mercury News for using the seaweed's scientific name.

Monday, March 08, 2004

New Outlook for New Jersey

The governor of New Jersey recently signed an executive order establishing an Invasive Species Council for that state. The Council representatives will be an interesting mix of people from government, environmental, horticultural, and agricultural backgrounds. The Courier-Post reports the story.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Removing the Barriers to Building...a Barrier

Following criticism from legislators (and probably many others in the Great Lakes region), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has adjusted its budget, and restored the promised $4.4 million for construction of a permanent electrical barrier to keep carp from entering the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Read a blurb about it from Newsday.com. It was only a few days ago when the ISW posted that the USACE had pulled their funding.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Mesquite Mayhem

allAfrica.com has this very interesting article about the consequences of the introduction of mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) to Kenya. It seems that the National Environmental Management Authority of Kenya has called upon the FAO to answer for their intentional introduction of this noxious weed. Mesquite is often grown as a source of wood (firewood and woodcraft), to combat soil erosion, to amerliorate sites by fixing nitrogen, and even as a food source (the pods). The Community Museums of Kenya is claiming that parts of the country now suffer from low water tables, decreasing biodiversity, and even more soil erosion, all due to mesquite. Bonus points to allAfrica.com for using the plant's scientific name.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the story.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Back to the Gypsy moth

Officials in Leelanau County, Michigan are taking the proactive approach to gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) control. According to this article from the Leelanau Enterprise, scientists tracking egg masses in areas around the county found their numbers to be above a set threshhold. The county will respond by spraying with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) over affected areas this spring (Bt is a bacteria that disrupts the digestive system of gypsy moth caterpillars, not a fungus as was reported in the article). The National Park Service will also be enacting their own suppression program, using a virus called "Gypcheck" (gypsy moth nuclear polyhedrosis virus). Those who are interested may want to check out this article about the problems Bt causes for native butterfly species.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Jumping the Fence

The news isn't good for those hoping to keep carp out of the Great Lakes. According to this story at the Kansas City Star, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has cut federal funding for the project, which sought to construct a permanent electric barrier at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. There is already a temporary barrier in place, but it isn't expected to last much longer. You can read previous ISW postst about the temporary barrier by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

"Brach" is Back

The marine algae Caulerpa brachypus is making a return appearance in Martin County, Florida. As reported by The Stuart News, divers spotted the algae snagged on part of an artificial coral reef known as the House of Refuge. Scientists think cold waters kept the algae from showing up for the past nine months. No word on whether they are removing the offending seaweed. You can read past ISW posts about the C. brachypus in Marin County by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Gesundheit!

swissinfo is reporting that Switzerland is under seige from one of the most annoying American plant species: ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Ragweed is well-known in the U.S. for the hayfever-inducing pollen clouds it produces in late summer. While it has been present in Switzerland for years, scientists are concerned about a recent population explosion. Bonus points to swissinfo for using the scientific name.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Prickly Logic

According to this article from The Sydney Morning Herald, the farming of prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.) is rising in popularity in Australia. The species, whose crops bear tasty fruits, are native to America, and well-known to many Australian biologists for their invasiveness. Not to worry, though; according to the farmer in the report, there's no threat of his crops becoming invasive, now that the Cactoblastis moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) has been introduced as a biological control. As reported in the ISW back in 2003, some scientists beg to differ. I wonder if the Cactoblastis moths negatively impact crop yields?