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Author: Jennifer Forman Orth

Invading your brain since 2002.


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Friday, March 31, 2006

New in the Literature  

Recently published journal articles:

Plants and Animals General

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Red Green  

As part of their efforts to ensure a "green Olympics" in 2008, China is announcing an all-out campaign against an American moth invader. According to this report at China View, the government is determined to reduce the threat that the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) poses to trees in Beijing and surrounding areas. How are they going to do it? A lot of aerial spraying of pesticides, for starters. Not exactly green, though the wording of the article suggests they might be taking the concept too literally, in that they are concerned with the trees lacking green foliage and leaving them with a "brown" landscape. Fall webworms are efficient defoliators and while the damage is unsightly, it is typically not enough to kill the tree in a single season. The article does also mention that the government plans to use additional, more environmentally-friendly control methods, like pheremone traps, bug lights and two biological controls: American white moth virus and Chouioia cunea, a parasitic bee.

The ISW reported on the fall webworm invasion in China back in March 2004.






Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's About Time...sort of  

Indiana has finally gotten around to releasing a list of invasive species, but it is a bit of a letdown. As reported by Purdue University, the list, which includes about 100 species, was put together by the Indiana Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program, which is run by a group made up of Purdue pest experts and workers from state and federal agencies.

So there's a list...but where are the criteria that explain how a species gets listed? Nowhere to be found. It would be wise for Indiana to have public accountability, as there is for states like Massachusetts and California. Accountability builds public trust, and whether you are asking for funding to help combat one of those invasive insects, or asking people to stop spreading an invasive plant, it always helps to have evidence publicly available to support your claims.

Also, small pet peeve here, but while the individual pages for the "unwanted pests" are useful, the full species list is stuck in an annoying Flash applet - you cannot even view more than 20 species at a time, which I find frustrating.






Monday, March 27, 2006

Full Fungal Assault  

The UK got it, now New Zealand's got it...Scoop has a press release from Biosecurity NZ that says Phytophthora kernoviae has been found on custard apple plants (Annona chrysophylla) in Northland. The pathogen (technically a water mold, not a fungus) was also found in soil samples taken from a second site. Since P. kernoviae has been shown to damage a variety of ornamental plant species, this is not good news for NZ.

UK scientists discovered the pathogen in 2003 while doing surveys for a related species, P. ramorum (sudden oak death or ramorum blight). Some of you may remember that the US had its own crisis with P. ramorum back in 2004.






Sunday, March 26, 2006

Weekend Blog Blogging  

Turns out I was not the only person blogging about that ridiculous Op-Ed piece by the president of W. Atlee Burpee & Company (where Burpee seeds come from):

  • The Mother Jones blog notes Ball builds a big straw man he can't wait to knock down.
  • The Windstar Wildlife Institute Blog posts the entirety of Ball's diatribe, then sits back and waits for comments. It gets some meaty ones too.
  • Richard over at The Tikun Olam blog pokes more holes in Ball's arguments, and adds a bit of Seattle, WA flavor as well.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Weekend Photoblogging  


A Fuzzy Disaster
Originally uploaded by urtica.

Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis, to be exact) have been forever ruined for me. I cannot look at one and appreciate the beauty of such a tree - I have to stand under it, or flip branches over, scouring it for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) infestation.

The woolly adelgid is an insect in the hopper family (Homoptera). Introduced from Asia, it has been known in the Northeastern U.S. since the 1920s. Here is a map of the known range of the insect from 2005. It's still got over 50% of the native range of hemlock to go. Though there are chemical and even biological controls available to manage woolly adelgid infestations, neither are in widespread use. A tree may die just a few years after it is attacked, or it may linger on for many years in an unhealthy state.






Friday, March 24, 2006

 
Carpal Tonnage Syndrome

Utah is sick of carp, and they can't take it any more! According to this report at ABC News, Utah is soliciting proposals from people with ideas about how to remove one million carp per year from Utah Lake, the state's largest body of freshwater. Experts are especially interested in proposals that elaborate on what to do with all that dead carp (Here's what Illinois wants to do with theirs). An article from Deseret Morning News back in September 2005 noted that there are an estimated 7.5 million carp currently living in the lake. The removal project is scheduled to take place starting in 2007.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

 
Radio Days

Two interesting audio clips this week:

  • The Great Lakes Radio Consortium has a clip about the effects of the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) on the nursery industry in the Great Lakes region (hint: it's not good). Also check out their report from last week about the fact that budget cuts are impacting the ability to control the ash borer at the federal and state level.
  • NPR reported about efforts to control invasive plants in Arizona, and how these efforts are fueled (ha ha) by the increased threat of wildfires. [posted to ALIENS-L]

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 
Disharmonia

A report from the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) indicates that Asian ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis) should now be considered a potential allergen in America. The beetles, originally introduced as a biological control for garden aphids, congregate in massive numbers in the fall to seek shelter. They often target homes and other buildings as ideal spots to pass the time until spring. Now tests show that the beetles are causing allergic reactions in humans that are comparable to those caused by cockroaches. More interesting is that there is cross-reactivity between the ladybug and cockroach allergens. That means someone who develops a reaction to ladybugs is at risk of developing a reaction to cockroaches allergens, and vice versa.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 
Welcome, Velkommen, Welkom, Vitejte...

The ISW is welcoming a large number of visitors from other countries today, and it is very nice to see it. This weblog may call the U.S. home, but it has always included invasive species news coverage from across the globe. Invasive species are a worldwide problem, and we will all be better off sharing more information and fewer invaders. So those of you from South Africa, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Israel and even Canada (:-)), thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to subscribe to the feed!






Monday, March 20, 2006

Weeding the Feed  

More than twenty companies that sell animal feed in the state of Idaho have been ordered by the Idaho Department of Agriculture to stop, according to this press release (.pdf). It seems that the seed, packaged for wild and pet birds, as well as small animals like hamsters, gerbils and squirrels, was contaminated with species that are on Idaho's noxious weed list. Among the banned weeds discovered were invasive plants like Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) and jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica). The ISDA will review each company's case over the next several months and decide whether the companies that clean up their act will be able to sell their feed products in Idaho again. While it sounds like all they did was issued a stop-sale order to each company, and did not charge them with misdemeanor violations that would have included a fine of up to $3000 each, the ISDA may still decide to assess a civil penalty of up to $2000 per company.

Thanks to Sandy L. for posting about this story to the ALIENS-L listserver.






Sunday, March 19, 2006

 
Low Ball

There's a little ALIENS-L listserver buzz today about this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Written by George Ball, current president of W. Atlee Burpee & Company, it's a scathing piece calling people concerned about invasive plants "botanical xenophobes." I am not sure where Mr. Ball gets his misinformation, but frankly it is quite insulting. Who exactly is suggesting we stop all use of non-native plants? Those people volunteering their time pulling purple loosestrife out of their local swamp aren't trying to keep anyone from growing onions or garlic in their garden. In fact, most plants of the vegetable garden have been selected for traits that make them extremely unlikely to escape into the wild (though of course there are exceptions).

The recent ESA position paper didn't call for a blanket ban on all non-native species either, it recommended creating a reasonable risk assessment protocol and judging each species individually. It would be great if Mr. Ball would do the same for people.

Coincidentally, what was I doing this afternoon? I was planting (Burpee brand) Jalapeno peppers and other plants from seed. This will be the last time I buy anything from the Burpee Company. Shame on you, Mr. Ball!

P.S. - The piece also makes reference to three well-established invaders in the U.S. having been accidental introductions: kudzu (Pueraria lobata), starthistle (Centaurea), and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). While all three species had multiple vectors of introduction, both accidental and intentional, the main pathways of kudzu and purple loosestrife were certainly intentional. It would be nice if gardeners could absolve themselves of all responsibility for plant invasions, but we cannot.

Update 3/24/2006: I have just sent an email to the Burpee company to let them know how upset I am about Mr. Ball's op-ed piece, and to inform them that I am boycotting Burpee until they satisfactorily change their attitude about invasive plants. If you feel likewise, you can email Burpee at custserv@burpee.com or call their customer service line at 1-800-333-5808.

Anyone want to recommend an alternative source for garden veggie seeds?

Update 3/29/2006: Burpee is apparently proud of George Ball's little diatribe - they've posted it on their website. Also, the New York Times printed two Letters to the Editor last Sunday, in response to what Ball wrote (but that link will probably fail unless you have an NYT subscription).






Saturday, March 18, 2006

Weekend Photoblogging  


A Little Nutty
Originally uploaded by urtica.

We need a better common name for these sharply-pointed nutlets than "water chestnuts." Trapa natans is an aquatic plant native to Asia, and while people have been known to shell and eat the nutlets, this invasive species is not to be confused with those crunchy slices of water chestnut (vegetative corms from the sedge Eleocharis dulcis) in your Chinese food.

One place you can always count on finding evidence of T. natans is Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA, where this photo was taken. That's because one of the original introductions of this species into the wild was in the nearby Sudbury River, back in the late 19th century. Since then, water chestnut has invaded much of the Northeast U.S.






Friday, March 17, 2006

 
Feeling Territorial

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is out with a report on "Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories." The review looked at non-native plant and animal introductions on 17 different British Overseas Territories (Bermuda, Falkland Islands, etc.) and the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man et al.). More than 2200 different species introductions have been recorded in the survey areas, and the researchers note that is most likely an underestimate, since few of the territories have completed full inventories.

There don't appear to be a lot of similarities between territories, with the number of non-native species ranging from over 1000 (Bermuda) to none or close to none in some cases. Species found in four or more territories include standard island pests like feral cats (felis catus) and black and Norwegian rats (Rattus rattus and R. norvegicus), and also the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), and mesquite (Prosopis juliflora).

At the bottom of the page are links to the full report here (.pdf) and the complete data set in an Excel spreadsheet (.zip). Note that the report is about non-native introductions, with no determination made as to whether the species found were "invasive" or not. It is also not clear whether species had to be naturalized to be included in the study.






Thursday, March 16, 2006

 
But I Want One!!!!

This may be the coolest invasive species schwag ever:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with the Prefix Corporation to make these neat acrylic paperweights. They are filled with real zebra mussel shells (Dreissena polymorpha). The paperweights are an outreach effort of the 100th Meridian Initiative, a project with the goal of keeping zebra mussels and other invasive aquatic species from spreading west of the 100' longitude line that divides North America.

The bad news is that you probably have to be a pretty big bigwig to get one of these, since they cost about $35 each and you have to buy them in packages of ten. The press release recommends targeting your favorite legislators. Oh well...






Wednesday, March 15, 2006

 
Tangled Bank is Here!

A fresh new edition of the Tangled Bank is out, courtesy of Living the Scientific Life. The ISW is there, and so is The Questionable Authority's post about invasive gall wasps in Hawai'i. Go read!






Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gypsy Moths Were Here?  
The Gypsy Kings


Gypsy Moths Were Here?
Originally uploaded by urtica.

Uh oh...the Boston Globe says it's going to be a banner season for gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) in Southeastern Massachusetts, perhaps the biggest in more than 20 years. Scientists report large numbers of eggs laid by the moths, and note that unless we have a really wet spring, massive tree defoliation should be expected.

The photo above is from one of the birch trees in my yard - the egg masses, which are about 15 feet off the ground, look like they belong to the gypsy moths. I've also been finding shedded caterpillar remnants and the ends of pupae in clumps all over my yard. Could Metrowest Massachusetts be under a gypsy moth seige too?






Monday, March 13, 2006

 
Mango Tango

(Sorry for the delay in posting this, Blogger was being cranky last night)

According to this report at ABC News, agriculture inspectors from U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered a long-horned beetle (Rhytidodera bowringii) at a port in Miami Florida - the first incidence of this species known in the U.S.. The beetle is already well-known in Asia for decimating mango crops - a cause for alarm since Florida is the number one U.S. producer of mangoes. The discovery was made on a ship carrying granite from Hong Kong.

Bonus points to ABC News for keeping the beetle's scientific name in the report.

Update 3/16/06: An astute ISW reader pointed out that the beetle, reported in the AP article to be "about 4 inches long," was more likely about 4cm long - a 4 inch beetle would be a giant, and there are few species that measure up. So you might want to go back and edit those "I, for one, welcome our new ginormous beetle overlords" posts :-).






Sunday, March 12, 2006

 
Weekend Blog Blogging

This week in invasive species blog posts, we've got two parrots and a perch...

  • Psittapedia posts about the move to afford monk parakeets in New Jersey some legal protection. Sometimes it's easy being green.
  • bootstrap analysis posts a review of a recent article about introduced mammals threatening an endangered parrot in Puerto Rico. Okay, so sometimes it's *not* easy being green.
  • The Inverse Agonist over at The Qualia Commons caught a screening of Darwin's Nightmare (see previous ISW post) and reports that the director seemed more interested in being a movie maker than in talking about the horrible things he filmed in Tanzania.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reedy  
Weekend Photoblogging


Reedy
Originally uploaded by urtica.

Well-weathered Phragmites mixed in with a patch of Japanese knotweed (background) along the Neponset River in Dorchester, MA. Dig that fancy collar!

There's a lot of digging and soil movement going on in this area right now. The increased disturbance will likely be a boon for these invaders, since they are very good at spreading by vegetative reproduction. Even the tiniest fragments of their rhizomes (underground stems) that get broken off can grow into whole new plants.






Friday, March 10, 2006

 
Don't Assume the Position

The Ecological Society of America recently released a position paper calling for federal, state and local governments to take action against the introduction and spread of invasive species. They also renew the call for the establishment of a National Center for Invasive Species Management. The author list for the paper is an impressive who's who of invasive species biologists from both the terrestrial and aquatic sides, and the paper itself is, at first glance, also impressive, weighing in at about half a Master's Thesis (43 double-spaced pages not including figures or references). It will take me a while to digest it and add my thoughts to this post. For those of you who cannot wait until then, check out the press release (thanks to Robyn for sending in the link), or if you dare, the full version (.pdf).

Update 3/11/06: I have read the entire position paper and on the whole, I thought the authors did a very good job outlining the key invasive species issues the U.S. should be focusing on. Specifically, they make six recommendations:

  • Target the riskiest pathways for introduction of invasives.
  • Evaluate all species before they can be imported into the U.S. (Sorry "no white list" folks!)
  • Do regular "rapid assessment" surveys in the areas where new non-native species are most likely to be found.
  • Clear the way through government red tape (at federal, state, and local levels) so we can have a true "rapid response" protocol for new invasions.
  • Use a "slow the spread" protocol for problem species that are already established in the U.S., to keep them from spreading to other parts of the country.
  • Create a National Center for Invasive Species Management.
I think these are all excellent suggestions (feel free to say whether you are for or against in the comments). Some additional notes:
  • The authors point out that there is a narrow window for eradicating a newly introduced invader, and our options for action quickly dwindle as a species becomes established.
  • They note that the "...default response in U.S. policy is adaptation – passively adjusting..." It does seem like we spend an awful lot of time saying "We *found*" instead of "We found and *removed*"
  • The authors call for the federal government to take a leadership role on invasive species issues, citing the “grossly insufficient” coordination at the interstate level. This is sadly true. Back in 2003 I presented a poster showing the broad disparity between the invasive plant lists of the states in New England. The data isn't up to date for 2006 but the general conclusion of the study would still be the same - there is not a lot of overlap except for the species that are already well-established throughout the region. The communication problems are not just state-to-state either - virtually every section of the federal government has some involvement in invasive species issues, from the Department of Homeland Security to the USDA to NASA to the Navy to the Army Corps of Engineers. Their roles are so fragmented, they can't possibly keep track of what everyone is working on.
  • The paper includes a discussion of how advance planning could do a lot to prevent the establishment of future invasive species. A lot of work has been done to develop management plans in some states, but what we really need is a coordinated, national effort. Let's make part of that figuring out in advance who has jurisdiction where, how control plans would proceed, and what control methods you would be likely to use (and get them approved in advance!). That way, when a new invasive species is discovered, the ISW won't have to report that you missed your window.
The only real complaint I have about the paper is that it glosses over the economic issues. I would have liked to have seen more input from an economist, perhaps with some comparisons of costs of prevention vs. management.





Thursday, March 09, 2006

 
You Naughty Little Mink!

File this under "Oops!" - The plan to eradicate the American mink (Mustela vison) from Britain's Western Isles has hit a bit of a snag, according to this story from The Times Online. No, it's not those pesky animal rights groups again, it's the dreaded Government Bureaucracy. Seems someone didn't fill out the right forms when requesting additional funds from the European Union, and now the program deadline has passed. The article makes it sound like there will be no reconsideration of the application, and it's unclear what Britain can do to come up with the £1.65m ($2.87 million USD) needed to proceed with Phase 2 of the culling, which would have eradicated the minks from the Isles of Lewis and Harris.

You can read previous ISW posts about the American mink here and here.






Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 
Laying Down the Laws?

Sometimes Google News picks up the oddest "news reports," like this one from MichNews.com. It's a report to update people about the invasive species legislation currently making its way through the federal government, from a property-rights advocate's point of view.

Some issues:

  • The writer of this piece seems to think the "invasive species" is a concept made up so that the federal government can exert more control over the public (i.e. property owners), as indicated by the appearance of "invasive species" in quotes every time the phrase is mentioned...which is a lot.
  • The writer notes that in 2006, it is *aquatic* invasive species that are being targeted by federal legislation. A bit of history: The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA) was first introduced in 2002, not exactly a fast-moving piece of legislation. There are those of us who remember its predecessor, National Invasive Species Act (NISA), that was enacted in 1996. There are also those of us who don't think it makes sense to split invasive species issues into aquatic and terrestrial camps.
  • The idea that the Ballast Water Management Act might include "non-ballast water factors" is not a bad one. It's about time we all recognized that ballast is just one of several aquatic pathways for non-native species introductions. Yes, I'm talking to you there, with the crusty hull.
  • The writer claims that there has been a six-month media blitz of invasive species articles leading up to now - that is just not true. The ISW has been monitoring the media for invasive species articles for almost four years. While public awareness about invasive species has certainly increased, leading to a flood of posts in the blogosphere, the mainstream media coverage has stayed about the same. The only difference is that more mainstream media sources have gone online, making any articles they publish easier to access.
  • As for the claim that these articles are "mostly ghostwritten by “IS” special interest groups"...well, who are all of these special interest groups and why haven't they offered me a job? :-)
  • The people that write and vote on legislation surely have a number of motivators, but it is hard to believe that the key one in play here is a desire to "restrict the rights of rural citizens." The people that support NAISA generally care about the environment and believe that invasive species are causing problems that could be prevented. To suggest that those people do not respect the rights of "rural citizens" is insulting, especially in current times, where slashing of federal and state budgets has led to an uprising of volunteers out there observing ecosystems, collecting data, and cleaning up the messes we've made due to some bad decision-making.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 
Termite Over Matter

Some of you might have received an email today warning you not to purchase mulch for fear that it contains wood waste from hurricane-ravaged regions of the Southeastern U.S., and will lead to the introduction of the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) into your yard and the eventual decimation of the very house you live in:

"If you use mulch around your house be very careful about buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem; Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country were the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know were it came from."

What is the source of this warning? No one seems to know - this is the stuff that urban legends are made of. There is no evidence that anyone is buying up hurricane scraps to sell on the cheap, and the big-box home improvement stores are denying that any of the mulch they sell is from areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

To properly defend against such things as invasive species and urban legends, start by arming yourself with information:

  • There is an article being sent around with the termite email, and that part is real. Read the original version, a press release from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.
  • Two important things to note from the article:
    • Hurricane-affected areas that have populations of Formosan subterranean termites have been quarantined. That means no wood is allowed out of the area unless it has been treated for termites.
    • The press release is from October 2005, and is aimed at people in the Lousiana area, because there is great concern that termite-infested wood taken from damaged structures will be used to repair or rebuild following the hurricane. This Reuters article suggests New Orleans is already having a bad time of it.
  • That said, a quarantine zone for wood products is not a guarantee that any wood that comes from that area is termite-free. Be smart and only get wood and wood products from trusted vendors.
  • The Formosan termite has been living in the U.S. for more than 50 years! It's not a new invader. Studies have determined that the termite has temperature and humidity requirements that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to live outside of the Southeast U.S. Also, the process of mulching wood is very desctructive and it would be unlikely (but not impossible) that any termite survived it.
  • That said, there is no absolute guarantee that Formosan subterranean termites could not spread to other parts of the country if introduced repeatedly and in sufficient quantities. Stranger things have happened than a species adjusting to a new climate or habitat. Because of this, again, be smart and only buy wood and wood products that have been inspected and deemed free of termites and termite damage. The Mulch and Soil Council recently released this press release assuring purchasers of mulch that MSC-stamped bags have been inspected and do not contain any wood from the hurricane cleanup. But that has been the policy of the MSC for a while now, and it's not because of termites - it's because wood from construction typically contains a pesticide, Chromated Copper Arsenate, that could contaminate groundwater with arsenic if it is used as mulch.
More information: North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi

Update 3/9/06: An informative posting to the ma-eppc listserver explains more about the ways that Formosan Subterranean Termites can spread and how it is unlikely to happen via mulch.






Monday, March 06, 2006

 
Dropping Acid

How serious is Hawaii about eradicating the introduced coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) in that state? So much so that for the next five days, part of a nature reserve and an entire state park on the Big Island will be closed down so that aerial spraying with citric acid can proceed. This is the third in a series of treatments for the Manuka Natural Area Reserve and Manuka State Park over the past several months. The government seems upbeat about their progress, but it has been a bit of a bumpy road so far, with inital attempts lacking in follow-up, and delays made necessary by drought conditions. For details, read the press release from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Interested readers may also want to check out archived ISW posts about the coqui.

Thanks to Thomas D. for sending the suggestion for today's post.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

You have been warned!  
Weekend Photoblogging


You have been warned!
Photograph by Roger B.

This weekend's photoblogging entry comes not from me, but from fellow Flickrite RogerB. He lives in the U.K., where it is illegal to plant Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) or to encourage its spread in the wild, as indicated by Schedule 9 of the The Wildlife & Countryside Act of 1981. Businesses like the one hanging these red tags provide knotweed removal services for landowners...for a price, of course.

Thanks to Roger B. for permission to post his excellent photo.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

 
Outwit! Outlast! Outgrow!

The Washington Post has an article about the continuing effort to rid the Galapagos Islands of non-native plants and animals. Conservationists are making inroads in their goal of removing all the feral goats, pigs, dogs, cats, donkeys, etc., but the article notes there are new problems caused by the spread of more recently introduced ornamental plants that are now spreading in the wild. Interested readers can check out previous ISW posts about the Galapagos here.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

 
A Change is Gonna Come

From the online journal Urban Habitats comes an intriguing study of the flora of the New York Metropolitan area. Using a century of herbarium records, Steven E. Clemants and Gerry Moore discovered a trend of expanding ranges of non-native plants and shrinking ranges of native species. In one of the sobering examples they discuss, native honeysuckles (Lonicera spp. and Diervilla lonicera) all have a negative change index, while their non-native congeners have all increased their range dramatically.

A quick sort of their data, and the species list with the top ten highest change indices reads like a who's who of invasive plants in the Northeast U.S....

  • Celastrus orbiculata (Asiatic bittersweet)
  • Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
  • Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
  • Morus alba (white mulberry)
  • Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
  • Aralia spinosa (devil's walking-stick)
  • Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (porcelainberry)
  • Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
  • Acer negundo (boxelder)
  • Robinia pseudo-acacia (black false-locust)
...except for boxelder, a native species (though considered a weedy tree in some states). Other native species with positive change index values include Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry, one of the more common native shrubs used in landscaping), and Populus deltoides (Eastern cottonwood) and Sassafras albidum (sassafras), two more weedy tree species. Sounds like one hundred years have definitely brought some disturbance to the city that never sleeps.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting a link to the article.






Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 
Carnival Rides

The ISW has contributed to two carnivals this week. Check out Circus of the Spineless for some great posts about insects and other invertebrates, and visit the Tangled Bank for some general biology goodness.






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