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Author: Jennifer Forman Orth

Invading your brain since 2002.


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Monday, March 31, 2008

Smells Fishy To Me!  

A press release from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission details new research that may lead to an effective control for the invasive round goby (Apollonia (Neogobius) melanostomus). According to the release, scientists have discovered that scent cues successfully attract female round gobies to traps. What scent, you ask, can pull a round goby away from her other activities deep in the Great Lakes? Male goby urine. The scientists are hoping further studies will reveal a way to set traps using the urine, allowing them to potentially disrupt the breeding cycle of these invasive fish.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Georgia On My Mind  

In case you missed it back in February, The Bugwood Network, an amazing repository of invasive species images and distribution data, officially became the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Housed out of the University of Georgia, the Center will continue to be a goto source for information about forest pests, invasive plants, and pathogens that impact the USA, and will likely continue to broaden its global resources as well. In fact, if you deal with invasive species, you've probably already visited one of their websites, even if you don't realize it.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Part and Parthenium  

The Daily Times of Pakistan is reporting that Islamabad is undergoing an invasion...of toxic weeds. Parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus), an herbaceous plant native to Central and South America, has established itself throughout Pakistan over the past 50 years. Given its propensity to invade agricultural areas, its toxicity if eaten by animals, and its ability to cause a rash wherever it comes into contact with human skin, Parthenium sounds like bad news. The article cites recently published research from two biologists at Punjab University...for more information about Parthenium in Pakistan, you can try here (abstract only, but there is an email address if you want to request a reprint).

This marks the first ISW reference to Parthenium, and more importantly, the first mention of invasive species in Pakistan.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Salt And Vinegar  

A report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer provides details of a promising treatment for dealing with invasive sea squirts. Faced with an onslaught of the colonial tunicate Didemnum in Puget Sound, one Washington biologist is testing whether acetic acid is an effective control method. Preliminary results suggest that a simple spray of the vinegary liquid kills off the Didemnum, perhaps supplanting the need for the labor-intensive plastic wrap method of killing off these marine invasives. If the treatment is successful, the US will likely owe a debt of gratitude to New Zealand, which has employed a number of innovative control techniques to deal with Didemnum (details in this report).

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Athel Murmuring  

The Las Vegas Sun has an article about an up-and-coming tamarisk species making its way around Lake Mead. The athel tree (Tamarix aphylla) is evergreen, grows quite a bit larger than other saltcedars, and until recently was thought to be sterile and therefore not a threat. Following the removal of over 20,000 trees by the National Park Service, that opinion has likely changed (apparently Australia doesn't like it much either).

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Up The Garden Path  

Michael K. points to this nice article in the San Francisco Chronicle about gardening with native plants. It comes with an extensive list of alternatives to invasive plants that West Coasters will likely find useful, though I recommend heading right to the source at PlantRight.org, instead of diving in to the confusing formatting the Chronicle uses for their web page. If you're an East Coaster in the USA and you feel left out, you can check out this native plant gardening guide I made a while back.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

That's Tariffic!  

Journal Watch Online points to an interesting study that will be out in an upcoming issue of the journal Ecological Economics. In it, the authors consider the impact that tariffs have on the spread of invasive species, and conclude that lowering tariffs would reduce invasive introductions by promoting the flow of more processed products through the global economy. Their theory hinges on the idea that a raw log of wood is more likely to be an invasive species vector than a finished chair or other wood product. The article isn't out yet, but it looks like you can grab a preprint of the entire thing here. (Warning: there be Calculus in them there pages!)

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh, The Cats Came Back...  

No sooner did Saturday Night Live make good fun of this story about a town offering a $5 bounty on feral cats, did news come from the Des Moines Register and many others that the good folks in the tiny town of Randolph, Iowa have gone and rescinded the offer. Instead, following a mountain of protests, they will be working with the Feline Friendz of Omaha to trap and neuter the cats. The issue is probably not truly resolved though, since the article notes that the mayor of Randolph didn't realize that the cats get returned to where they were picked up once they've been neutered.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

On The Border  

Perthnow.com is reporting that cane toads (Bufo marinus) are now *this close* to the border of Western Australia. The toads have been working their way north and west along the outer edges of Australia since the 1930s. Now only 50km (31 miles) and the Ord River separate them from the state of Western Australia. Predictions are that they'll make "landfall" by the end of 2008...though not if the Kimberly Toad Busters have anything to say about it.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guide Lines  

The Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants has just put out an updated version of the "Maine Field Guide to Invasive Aquatic Plants." It features a key, profiles of the state-listed aquatic invaders, and even a section devoted to similar-looking native species. It is incredibly detailed and very nicely put together, and would likely be an asset to anyone interested in invasive aquatics. You can download the entire 90-page guide for free here (pdf), or if you want a full-color, water-resistant print version, you can order one for $13 + shipping. They even take Paypal!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

How Do Ya Like Them Apple Moths?  

California media outlets were abuzz today with news of a new study claiming that the light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana) is not likely to become a pest in the USA. The researchers visited New Zealand and reviewed data from that country, where the LBAM has been around for over a century and currently does little damage to crops, living in sync with native predators since widespread spraying of pesticides stopped several decades ago. The report also concludes that the controversial aerial spraying of pheromones to trap the moths is unlikely to work in California.

With all that media coverage, it was still frustratingly hard to track down the actual study, but here it is (pdf), courtesy of the California Progress Report. Go read it for yourself.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Feed And Bane  

The Gresham Outlook is reporting that nutria populations in the state of Oregon are surviving in part due to the kindness of strangers. In at least one particular pond, featured in the article, a dozen of the invasive rodents (Myocastor coypus) can be seen rushing to the shore whenever people walk by, expecting to get fed. Officials in the city of Gresham are hoping to curb this bad habit by placing signs warning folks not to feed the nutria. The city, faced with an ongoing nutria incursion, has determined that it is unable to bear the cost of trapping nutria to get rid of them, but is willing to point residents in the direction of trappers for hire that can do the job.

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Weekend Photoblogging  

Cirque du Pileum Rouge
Originally uploaded by Dixie Native

Last week on Flickr I happened upon a nice shot of an American robin dining on the fruits of the invasive Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum, also known as "popcorn tree"). A quick note to the photographer led me to a whole set of his shots of this tree, including several amazing ones of birds, such as the Pileated woodpecker shown here. Be sure to scroll down this page to view the photos and read more about Chinese tallow.

Thanks to Dixie Native for giving me permission to display this photo and for pointing me to his other shots.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lucky Louie  

The Lodi News-Sentinel has a nice story about California's program to train dogs to sniff out zebra and quagga mussels along with other invasive aquatic species. The dogs are trained with tennis balls scented to match a particular invader (I smell mussels!...eww) and do an amazingly thorough job of finding things in places where humans cannot.

Sure, the ISW has featured the whole "dog catches invasive alien species" story a few times before, but who can resist a dog wearing a vest? Plus, there's a new angle this time around - when the California Department of Fish and Game's grant money runs out, the K-9 portion of this program, known as "Californians Turn in Poachers," will be relying solely on donations to keep it going. If you want to find out more about making a donation, click through to the full article.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Worth The Risk Assessment?  

Should the USA implement Australia's thorough weed risk assessment system to protect itself from new plant invasions? A recently published study coming out of the University of Florida and The Nature Conservancy says the Australian WRA would do well if applied in other parts of the world, and one author points out that it could save America a lot of money to prevent invasions rather than fight them after the species have already become established. Read more in this press release or check out the peer-reviewed article in the journal Diversity and Distributions. In fact, while you're there, you can dive into the entire volume, which is currently being offered for free by Blackwell Publishing. It's chock full of invasive species goodness! Uh, I mean badness. Oh, you know what I mean!

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Raccoonized  

Want to know how American raccoons (Procyon lotor) are doing in Europe? Pretty darn well, apparently, at least the ones near urban areas in Poland. Read the full results of preliminary research in this preprint (pdf file) from Annales Zoologici Fennici.

Thanks to one of the authors of the article for posting about it to the ALIENS-L listserver.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

What Can Brown Do For You?  

Stuff.co.nz is reporting that the New Zealand government is using strong measures to deal with the potential introduction of the brown mussel (Perna perna) into Tasman Bay. The response stems from a incident in late 2007 where an oil rig relocated to the bay in order to "defoul" (cleanse itself of unwanted organisms). The rig got clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) after initial inspections failed to reveal any species that New Zealand considered to be a problem. However, bad weather kept the rig closer to shore than expected, and further testing revealed the hull may have been contaminated with the invasive mussels. When the government sent robotic cameras under water to investigate, they detected what appeared to be brown mussels living at the site where the rig was located. While the exact species of mussel still needs to be confirmed, MAFBNZ is moving forward this week with a dredging of the area of Tasman Bay thought to be impacted, and the rig's owners are footing most of the bill.

Thanks to Andrew B. for sending in a link to the story.

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