Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Let's Be Franck

If only all scientists were as generous as Franck Courchamp, life could be so much easier for those of us doing research. (But then again, perhaps there would be no journals for us to publish in? :-). Franck recently posted a link, on the ALIENS-L listserver, to an article he wrote about mammal invasions. When I followed the link, I discovered many invasive mammal-related articles, all available as .pdf files from this page. Franck is currently a researcher at the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique, and you can read a more general description of his projects by going here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Something's Fishy

Has Australia made progress in its quest to create genetically modified carp (Cyprinus carpio)? I'm not exactly sure, but there is this article from Yahoo! News, which suggests that CSIRO and the Pest Animal Control CRC are on track to release GM carp containing the "daughterless" gene, that should cause them to produce only male offspring, in the middle of this century. The article explains that the gene, which comes from carp, is currently being tested on another invasive fish, the gambusia (Gambusia spp.). Neither organization is currently publicizing the project, leading me to suspect this is not really news. You can learn more about the GM carp project from this 2002 blog entry. You may also want to check out this better (and much older) article from

Thanks to Slashdot for posting a link to this article.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Leapin' Lizards!

This article from the Sioux City Journal is a must-read. It describes the work of Jason Kolbe, a graduate student who studies the brown anole (Anolis sagrei), a lizard native to the West Indies that is showing up in Florida, Hawaii and even Taiwan (.pdf file). Jason even spent a month in Cuba with fellow researchers, collecting skin samples or tails from lizards across the island. Using molecular tools, he can then compare the DNA of brown anoles from all over the world, to determine how the species has spread from one place to another. While brown anoles are not yet considered a problem in most areas where they have been introduced, they are thought to be outcompeting the native green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) in Florida. Bonus points to the Journal for using the lizard's scientific name.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

The moths return

The winter moths are back in southeast Massachusetts, along with the confusion over their origin. The Boston Globe is reporting that the tiny brown moths (they're actually a pretty copper color up close) are covering people's houses by the hundreds. Scientists are unsure whether the moths have migrated from Canada or are actually native to Europe. Their populations appeared to have died off over the past few days, based on accounts in the Globe article, and the fact that my parent's house in Randolph had a mere 25 under the porch light on Christmas day. The ISW had an entry about 2002's moth invasion earlier this year, along with a photo.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Dog Gone It!

Dogs hunting invasive's not a joke. reports that Kim Goodwin, a scientist at Montana State University, is working with a trainer to determine whether dogs can be taught to identify weeds by smell, and to locate them in the field. The first target, this being Montana, is spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa / biebersteinii). Trials with the first dog, named "Knapweed Nightmare," will begin this spring.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Access of Weevil

HortNews is reporting that forestry researchers in New Zealand are seeking permission to import Cleopus japonicus, a weevil that defoliates the invasive butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii, sometimes known horticulturally as Buddleia). This is in spite of the fact that evidence has shown that the weevils also feed on some of the other species in the genus that are present in New Zealand, albeit non-native. Butterfly bush is quite popular among gardeners worldwide, with many cultivars showcasing an array of brilliantly-colored flowers. The weevil in question, native to Asia, has also been shown to attack native hebes (Hebe spp.) species, but scientists believe the negative impacts of the butterfly bush invasion outweigh the potential weevil risk to native plant species.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Comment away!

I've just installed a comment system on the ISW. Whether you have a related website to link to, or an expert opinion to share, feel free to add comments to any of the posts. This free commenting system for Blogger-based weblogs is provided by BlogSpeak.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Fish Story

Yet another reason to keep those biodiversity surveys going: CNews is reporting that Canadian scientists surveying the Don River back in October found grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) among the fish they were cataloguing. Only a single fish was found, and there is no evidence to suggest there are established populations of the carp. However, officials remain concerned, due to the fact that this fish find occurred at the mouth of a river that feeds into Lake Ontario. Grass carp are the same species often sought after to control aquatic invasive plants such as hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) (see previous blog entries). You can also read an older article about the grass carp in Lake Ontario from The Globe and Mail.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

A not-so-distant star

A government study of Port Phillip Bay, Australia found that fish populations have plummeted, and that the likely culprit is the Northern Pacific sea star (Asterias amurensis). As described by The Age, the report concludes that the sea stars are "like a vacuum on the bay's floor," and have drastically altered the ecosystem in a way that makes it inhospitable to bottom-dwelling fish species. The report also places some blame on scallop dredging in the 1960s, since that massive disturbance likely facilitated the sea star invasion. Northern Pacific sea stars are thought to have been introduced to Australia via ballast water.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science recently discovered a new protozoan parasite (Bonamia sp.) in populations of Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) off the coast of North Carolina, according to this report from This is bad news, as many had hoped that the Asian oysters could supplement the Chesapeake Bay's dwindling native oyster populations. This is the first time that Bonamia has been found in the region, though it has been detected in Maine, France and New Zealand. Research is still being done to determine where the parasites are from (they don't appear to be associated with the shipments of Asian oysters), and to what degree they cause oyster mortality. Bonus points to ABCNews for using scientific names.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Mayan Oh My!

As reported by WBBH-TV, experts doing a survey of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, were surprised to discover populations of Mayan cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus) there. This marks the first time the aggressive, brackish-water fish, which is native to Central America, has been found so far north on Florida's west coast. Scientists are currently gutting some of the cichlids to examine their stomach contents, one way of analyzing what native species they pose a threat to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Barring Barberry in NH?

Officials in New Hampshire are currently at odds with the nursery industry over a proposal to ban the sale and transport of 18 invasive plants and 15 insects, as reported by the Concord Monitor. Among the disputed plants on the list are the Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), two established invaders that have been big moneymakers for some nurseries. You can go here to read .pdf versions of the current NH invasive species laws, proposed rules, and proposed lists of invasive and potentially invasive species.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

More Bounty Huntin'

Louisiana is continuing its nutria (Myocastor coypus) cash exchange program, offering $4 per tail, according to this article from The Times-Picayune (you need to give them your zip code and birth year to read the article). Trappers can also sell the pelts and meat (though that's only worth about another dollar). This $12 million nutria management program is sponsored by the Coastwide Nutria Control Program, which requires that trappers be licensed and bring their bounty to designated trapping sites. Other programs that offer incentives to get the public involved in removing invasives are located in South Africa (trees and herbs), Utah (dyer's woad), and as mentioned in yesterday's post, Venezuela (North American bullfrogs).

Monday, December 15, 2003


If you live in Venezuela, you can make extra money by hunting North American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). According to this article from The Boston Globe, you can earn 1000 bolivars (about 50 cents) per adult female, less money for males and tadpoles. The froggy roundup is part of an effort to reduce populations of the invasive bullfrogs, which have been observed to decimate biodiversity in the ponds where they take up residence. Read the detailed, well-written article for more about the history of this species in Venezuela (bonus points to the Globe for using the scientific name). For information about North American bullfrogs in Europe, see this site.

Thanks to members of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the article and the Euro-site.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Aussie Quarantine Officials Get the Boot

Incredibly observant quarantine officials in Australia discovered seeds from the invasive Siam weed (Chromolaena odorata) in the tongue of a work boot, according to this article from The pair of boots was examined during a routine cargo inspection of a shipment from East Timor, and was likely "contaminated" during some sort of field survey. The officials prevented Siam weed from entering the Northern Territory of Australia, where the species is not yet known. The fast-growing plant has already caused problems on a local level when it was found in Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Has your potpourri been bugged?

Alerts have gone out in several states about batches of potpourri infested with adults and larvae of the non-native wood-boring beetle (Chlorophorus strobilicola). The beetles were first discovered last week in batches of scented pine cones being sold at a Target department store in North Carolina. The beetles have since been discovered in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Georgia's Department of Agriculture is also on the lookout. The pinecones are being sold under several different names, and have been found at both Target and Walmart. Experts recommend that if you think you have purchased contaminated potpourri, you should either return it to the store where it was purchased, or double bag it before placing it in the trash. You can also call a toll-free help line at (888) 397-1517, but this may work only in Florida. There is currently very little information about this beetle species on the web, but I expect that will change over the next week or so. Update: The scented pinecone recall has gone national, and now covers potpourri sold at many different stores. You can read an article on the subject from Pest Control magazine, or view a FAQ from the USDA.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting the original alert.

Friday, December 12, 2003

A Wiki Good Time

Has a new species washed ashore in your town, but you have no idea what it is? Got a new weed in your garden that's not in your field guide? We're here to help. Post images and descriptions to the SpeciesID pages of our Wiki system; the administrator (me) is automatically notified when a page is updated, and will help you if you need to find someone to identify your species. The SpeciesID web will host your images and species descriptions, eliminating the need to send around those gigantic attachment-laden emails. Information about the species will be recorded for anyone in the world to see, a permanent yet evolving record where taxonomists can comment on the validity of an ID, or that someone can use if they think they've found the same species.

Anyone can register to use this Wiki-based system, and everyone is welcome to create new pages or add comments to any of the existing species pages. SpeciesID, maintained by the Morris lab, is still in beta. If you have any questions or comments, you can get help by clicking on the tiny "Send Feedback" link in the bottom right corner of every page.

For an example of the way the SpeciesID web works, see the StinkBugs page.

Thursday, December 11, 2003


Plans to repeat the culling of West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles) in spring 2004 has outraged animal rights activists, according to this article from The Herald UK. The Scottish group Advocates for Animals, currently protesting the eradication, apparently staged a "hedgehog rescue mission" to save the critters from a previous death threat. You can read a previous ISW post about this subject here. Update 12/17: You may also want to check out the Uist Wader Project page from the Scottish Natural Heritage Project, where you will find links to fact sheets about the hedgehog invasion and native wading birds, as well as links to commissioned reports on the topic.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Tipping the Scales

Questions about scale insects (Coccoidea)? Check out ScaleNet, a repository of information about the more than 7000 species of these plant pests. As reported by the ARS, Douglass and Gary Miller, creators of the site, are considered experts on the subject, and often consulted if species are found that are suspected to be invasive. You can also read the full article, recently published in the magazine Agricultural Research. There are currently at least 253 invasive scale insect species residing in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Milestone 10,000!!!!

The Invasive Species Weblog reached a milestone on Monday: 10,000 hits! Thank you to the user at UC Davis who became the ISW 10,000 visitor, please treat yourself to some virtual confetti and party music!

Monday, December 08, 2003

No such thing as 100%

The Washington Post has an interesting article about plans in Maryland and Virginia to release Asian Suminoe oysters, to replace the dwindling stocks of native species. Some of the oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) are from populations bred with an extra chromosome, and while this is supposed to make them sterile, it is not 100% effective. Experiments are already underway to test the oysters' ability to thrive in the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, some officials are concerned about the potential of these bivalves to introduce disease or to become invasive themselves. Bonus points to the Post for using the scientific name of the oyster.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Caws and Effect

Seems the Indian myna bird (Acridotheres tristis, also known as the common myna or mynah, or sometimes even minor bird :-) is causing problems in Tasmania, as reported by the Examiner network. The birds are already established in parts of Australia and New Zealand, where they are known to damage agricultural crops and impact native bird populations, and can also be a vector for the spread of invasive plant species. Myna birds were originally introduced to many different parts of the world for the control of pest insects.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Report Cards

Looks like it's a big week for invasive species publishing. First there was the release of the National Invasive Species Council's report from the Invasive Species Pathway Team (link is to earlier blog entry). Now there is also FICMNEW's report: "A National Early Detection and Rapid Response System for Invasive Plants in the United States." (direct link, .pdf format). In it are (hopefully) all the objectives you'd need to consider when designing your own EDRR program, from identification of vectors to recognition of potential barriers to rapid response.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Smart Birds?

I happened across this site the other day when doing a web search. Until then, I had no idea that there were people who kept starlings as pets, but it turns out there are quite a few that do. Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), along with a few other non-native species, are the only wild birds that can be kept as pets in the U.S. (though you'll need to check your state's regulations as well, if you are thinking of doing this). This site and several others, including and the For the Love of a Starling site, have been set up to help people who find abandoned starling chicks and want to help them. One interesting article on the Starling Talk website disputes the claim that starlings take over the nests of native cavity-nesting birds. Definitely gave me something to think about, as did the fact that the darn things can learn to talk. Luckily, no one has yet taught the flock of 200+ that hangs out on the power lines near Shopper's World in Natick, MA (do I smell an advertising opportunity here?).

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Path to War...Against Invasives

New from the National Invasive Species Council is a report describing vectors of invasive species introduction, and how to rank them according to priority. The entire report, created by a task force for the NISC, can be downloaded as a Word document directly from this link. There doesn't seem to be any web-based summary of this amazingly well-researched document, though you can read more about pathways here.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver (who is also one of the authors) for posting information about the report.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Counting the Days

I finally got a copy of my invasive plant calendar today, and I have to say on the whole it is pretty cool. I did decide to make some minor adjustments, to fix a couple of the images that were a little bit cut off - I guess CafePress isn't perfect. Can't wait until Phragmites Month (January 2004)! You can click on the image below to purchase your own copy.

image of invasive plant 2004 wall calendar

Monday, December 01, 2003

Win Friends and Nominate People

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced that nominations are now being accepted for 2004 appointees to the Invasive Species Advisory Committee. Terms last for two years, with committee members meeting four times per year. The ISAC "provides advice to the Invasive Species Council" and "provides national leadership regarding invasive species issues". The deadline for nominations, if you're interested, is December 31.

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

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Vital Vitex

As reported in The Sun News, coastal residents in South Carolina are awaiting word on whether a plant that is showing up on local beaches, known as beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia), will be categorized as invasive and targeted for removal. Beach vitex, native to Asia and Australia, was introduced to the Carolinas as an ornamental plant back in the 1980s. Scientists are proceeding with a seven step program to determine what to do about the species, though the article implies they are leaning towards removal. Or at least they wouldn't be upset if someone came across one of the plants and pulled it out :-). You can read a past article from another local paper by clicking here.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Join the Garlic Mustard Patrol

A new item has been added to the ISW store:

garlic mustard patrol black capclose-up of badge detail

Just in time for the holidays, the Garlic Mustard Patrol cap is the second in the "Patrol" series, the first being the popular (translation: I've sold more than one) Purple Loosestrife Patrol cap. I've also posted a closeup of the badge, since the CafePress photos don't show the detail that goes into making these images.

And for those of you lucky enough not to know what garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is, click here.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Got the Munchies?

Science News is reporting that populations of the Formosan Subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) have hunkered down in New Orleans' French Quarter, where they are making meals of anything made of wood, from houses to living trees. As a consequence, there's a fair amount of research going on in the area, studying termite behavior and trying to find ways to limit the spread of this species, which was introduced from Asia several decades ago. One such effort is Operation Full Stop, a federal program that supports local-level eradication of the insects, which currently cost the US $1 billion per year (though note that native termites cost us $10 billion annually). This is an excellent article with lots of information and even photos of the termites - well worth the read.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Kills Pets Dead.

It's been just over two years since Australia began its eradication campaign against the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). Recently, the prime method used against these biting insects, poison bait, is under investigation by the Queensland government, after several homeowners complained that their pets had died. As reported at, the government is denying that the bait could be what caused the deaths of dogs, birds and fish in southeast Queensland. The bait used reportedly needs to be present at a low toxicity, since it works by interrupting the ant's growth cycle, and is meant to be eaten after it's been taken back to the nest. The poisons contained in the bait are S-methoprene and pyriproxyfen (.pdf link), chemicals also found in products such as flea-control collars.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

New in the Literature

Interesting articles from this month's batch of journals:

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Heads Up!

As reported at, researchers in Florida are taking a closer look at the history of the introduction of the air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) to the US, in an effort to find a better way to control the invasive vine. The current method of control is to remove the vines by hand, and to collect all the aerial tubers so they can't fall to the ground and grow into new vines. While the scientists search for a potential biological control, they have discovered an interesting fact about the air potato: it turns out there are in fact two different species of the vine that have been introduced, and molecular testing indicates that they are native to Africa.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Foxes in Boxes

Eastern Australia has begun their largest fox control project ever, according to this brief at ABC Rural. The goal is to eradicate the European fox (Vulpes vulpes), over four years, from 1 million hectares of land. The reason behind the project is interesting: scientists are hoping that reducing fox populations will increase the numbres of native wildlife, and that packs of wild dogs (Canis familiaris dingo, or the "dingo") will focus on these wild natives, rather than the sheep they seem to currently favor (my guess is that they stick with the passive meal). There is a related study that will track the movements of the wild dogs via GPS units attached to collars.

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

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Persecuting the Conifer

For centuries, Britain has been reforesting its depleted woods with conifer species native to places like North America and Australia. All that is about to change. The Guardian is reporting that the Forestry Commission has begun a century-long campaign to rid British forests of many of their conifer trees, and to encourage the growth of native broadleaf tree species, including ash (Fraxinus spp.), beech (Fagus spp.) and maple (Acer spp.). Several of the North American conifers, such as the noble fir (Abies procera) and the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), have escaped from cultivation in Britain, as well as in other parts of Europe to which they've been introduced.

Friday, November 21, 2003

In the Mink

The push is on in the UK to eradicate the American mink (Mustela vison) from the islands of Uist and Benbecula, according to this story from The Herald. Fourteen members of the Hebridean Mink Project and other workers will lay over 1000 traps on the two islands, and all minks caught will be destroyed. While animal rights groups protested the move, the government fully supported it; there is strong evidence that the mink is behind the decline and disappearance of several species of ground-nesting birds.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

State of Disaster?

In their quest to save their state's ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), officials in Michigan are considering asking for federal disaster relief funds, according to this article from The Daily Oakland Press. The state has lost almost 6 million trees to the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) since the beetle was first found there a mere 16 months ago. Their angle: dead ash trees are a threat to public safety because there is a risk that they could fall on people, damage property, etc. Researchers are also looking into other ways to recoup funds used to remove and replace dead trees, including using them as fuel or railroad ties.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Cape Invasion

A potentially invasive species of tunicate (Didemnum, poss. D. vexillum) has been discovered in Georges Bank, as reported by NOAA Magazine. The tunicates, which are siphon-feeding marine invertebrates, were first documented in New England waters in the year 2000. Until now, they have apparently only been found in fouling communities, not offshore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Rhodie Roundup

Brits are having a heck of a time dealing with the invasive shrub Rhododendron ponticum, according to this report from BBC News. The ornamental species, introduced from Asia by gardeners back in the 1800s, has spread through woodlands and wetlands, shading out native species with a thick foliage cover. To eradicate the shrubs from a part of Wales where they have invaded, the local Beddgelert Rhododendron Ponticum Management Group estimates it would take 25 years and 5 million pounds (about $8 million US). Bonus points to the BBC for using the scientific names (though the common name of this species is not in wide use).

Monday, November 17, 2003

Amphibious Assault

Frogs are causing more problems, this time on the Galapagos Islands. According to this report from, Scinax quinquefasciata, a tiny tree frog from nearby mainland Ecuador, has been breeding in the Galapagos since 1998. The frogs have no natural predators on the islands, and populations are booming as a result.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

When the lovegrass smiles at me I run from Rio...

Lovegrass (Eragrostis plana) has invaded Brazil, according to this story published by the IPS. Originally introduced in forage crop seed imported from Africa, lovegrass (also known as Capim Annoni) has taken over large swaths of land all over the country. At least part of its success it due to the plant's ability to produce massive amounts of seed, and to discourage competition through allelopathy.

Friday, November 14, 2003

See you later, Alligator

Evidence is mounting that alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)) can transmit West Nile virus (Flavivirus sp.), according to this article from The Idaho Statesman. An Idaho man handled infected baby alligators, shipped from Florida, and later came down with a mild case of the virus. Hundreds of the gators died after arriving at the gator farm where the man works, and the rest of the 1,000 that were imported were later destroyed. While the method of infection is not certain, the man does not remember being bitten by a mosquito, and no West Nile-infected mosquitos have been found within state lines. Someone should lets folks in Louisiana know about this; this story from The Advocate states that alligator-to-human transmission is not possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Frogs in the Blog

The greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris) has been found in Guam, according to this story from the Honolulu Advertiser. Why is a Hawaiian newspaper reporting about Guam? The greenhouse frog is a great source of food for the dreaded brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), which Hawaiian officials are desperate to keep out of their state. More food means more snakes, making the chances of an accidental introduction even greater. Unfortunately, the greenhouse frogs are quiet, and a lot harder to track down than the other frog species making its way around island ecosystems, the coqui (E. coqui).

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

New in Print

In the literature this month:

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Breeders

According to this article from the Statesman Journal, researchers are finding more young European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) this year than ever before off the coast of Washington and Oregon. The crabs have been known in the area since the 1980s, but haven't garnered a lot of attention (translation: funding) because they were not causing significant problems. Now that evidence suggests there are well-established breeding populations, there is concern that a population explosion could be just over the horizon. The article notes that it took the green crab a century to become established on the east coast of the U.S. They certainly make up the majority of crab shells I have seen along Boston Harbor (G-R-E-E-N...G-R-E-E-N...).

Sunday, November 09, 2003

It's not easy staying green

If you live in the northern U.S. and are surprised to be seeing green foliage this time of year, you're not alone. As described in this well-written article in the Pocono Record, the majority of the green you're seeing is non-native; plants from other parts of the world out of sync with your local seasons. So that maple tree that's been holding on to its leaves through November is likely a Norway maple (Acer platanoides), and those shrubby, spindly trees with the round leaves along your local river are probably buckthorn (Rhamnus spp.). In fact, it's a great time of year to get out there and identify invasive plants...if it's not too cold for you :-).

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Cold-hearted snake

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Hawaii and Guam have banded together in an effort to secure federal funding to eradicate the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) from Guam, and keep it from ever entering Hawaii or Saipan, according to this article in the Pacific Business News. Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and Representatives Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case are co-sponsoring a bill that would provide $18 million to fund the projects. This is not the first time Abercrombie has sought funding for this type of project, though I am not sure if he was successful. (Bonus points to the Pacific Business News for using the snake's scientific name.)

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Building Mussels

The state of Virginia was all "gung ho" about eradicating zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) from the Milbrook Quarry...until they ran out of money. According to this article from The Virginian-Pilot, Wilson J. Browning, the businessman who was contracted to kill the invasive mussels, was informed that budget constraints prevented the state from funding the project. Browning actually invented the eradication technology, which involves cycling all the water in the quarry (200 million gallons!) through pumps that remove the oxygen from the water. He and another researcher have also recommended a similar technique (link to .pdf file) to treat ballast water. The state is continuing to look into funding options in the hopes of continuing with their project.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Somewhere, a koala bear is shaking its head in disgust

There's a grove in Claremont Canyon, California that was cleared of trees about a month ago, yet environmentalists are cheering? That's the gist of this article from the Contra Costa Times, which describes the happiness felt by all as loggers came in to clear 12 acres of invasive eucaplytus trees, some them as much as 80 feet tall. The native habitat was always much more open than the crowded understory created by densely clustered eucalyptus, so scientists are expecting native species to recover now that the land has been cleared.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

America Discovers Columbus

Last week, The Columbus Dispatch published a four-day series of invasive species articles, including species profiles, economic impact reports, and even an editorial cartoon. It's a comprehensive special report, where you can learn more about everything from the devastation of the emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis) to the search for a market for bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) foodstuffs. Bonus points to the Dispatch for using scientific names.

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

Monday, November 03, 2003


State, local, and federal officials meeting in Arizona have resigned themselves to the fact that giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) has become a permanent resident of the Lower Colorado River, according to this story on The aquatic weed, which was first found in the river in 1999, has now spread south into Mexico, perhaps slightly ironic, as its native habitat is Brazil. In an attempt to control the weed, scientists are now testing the effectiveness of Cyrtobagous salviniae, a weevil biocontrol, and are educating the public about the benefits of cleaning their boating equipment to avoid spreading invasive plants.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Earthworms are easy

Seems like non-native earthworms are getting a lot of attention in the American media lately. While I reported earlier this week that Asian earthworms have drawn attention to themselves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Work in Progress blog noted a major New York Times article on the subject, and has been following other earthworm-related news stories.

Friday, October 31, 2003

The Big Dig

I was cruising around a hair-pin turn, before getting on the Mass Pike earlier this week, and was surprised to catch a glimpse of something flowering in the wreckage that is known as Boston's Big Dig. Anyone that knows the area I am talking about understands that it is a construction wasteland. The fact that anything was growing there at all was a shock. Turns out it was Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), a species that is native here, but has become a successful invasive species in Europe (see here, here or here for examples). While Jerusalem artichoke is considered a problem weed in parts of the U.S., I've had trouble growing this plant in my own yard. And while I don't see it around Eastern Massachusetts much, unless it has been planted, my Big Dig sighting is a testament to this species' weedy capabilities.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Moving In

Some of us in Massachusetts have been noticing the propensity of a certain bug to show up around the house lately, and now the media has taken notice as well. As reported in the MetroWest Daily News, the insects, while sometimes referred to as "stink bugs," are actually Western conifer seed bugs (Leptoglossus occidentalis), a relatively new arrival in the Northeastern U.S. While they do emit a pine-like odor when crushed, they smell no where near as bad as actual stink bugs. I'm not sure if the paper version of this article had a photo, but the online version sure could use one. Luckily, we've got plenty of photos right here. This species is native to the Western U.S., so depending on who you ask, it may not be considered invasive in the eastern part of the country. Unfortunately, the pest has already made its way overseas, as this web page from Italy demonstrates.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Get off our duff!

Earthworms are causing problems in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to this report in The Daily Times. A species of earthworm, suspected to be native to Asia, cleared all the duff - the layer of decomposing plant material just below leaf litter - from a section of forest. A lack of duff can mean less nutrients in the soil, and damage to the root systems of plants in the herbaceous understory. A similar problem, but with European earthworms, was reported about a year ago in Minnesota.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Muddy River

The New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) continues to spread in Wyoming, according to this story in the Billings Gazette. Though the prolific snails have been spotted in several western states since the mid-1990s, its appearance in the Bighorn River is its first appearance in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park. Scientists, who are speculating that the snails were introduced via contaminated angling gear, have begun an assessment to determine the extent of the invasion.

Monday, October 27, 2003

The Good and the Bad?

Two intersting blurbs about water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) today. First, the Herald Tribune reports that a scientist has developed a way to use populations of the invasive aquatic plant to remove excess nutrients that pollute stormwater runoff. The best part is that once the water is clean, the water hyacinth is removed and turned into a supplement for cattle feed. Read the article and you'll see that this is no fly-by-night project.

Also in the news today is a report from the India Times that water hyacinth invasion leads to an increase in dengue fever (Flavirus spp.). When water hyacinth populations take over a body of water, vegetation below the surface is shaded out and decays, leading to a loss of oxygen in the water. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease, and it is suspected that the fish that would normally eat mosquito larvae are being suffocated.

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

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Its ears must have been burning

Just one day after a big meeting in Minnesota to discuss the potential of building a barrier across the Mississippi River, to prevent the introduction of carp into that state, a commercial fisherman netted a 23 lb. bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis) in Lake Pepin. This marks the first time an invasive carp has been discovered in Minnesota. As reported in the Star-Tribune, officials are hoping this was just a "stray" and remain confident that it is not too late to prevent the carp from establishing in their state.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Scent of Doom

Maryland is on alert now that the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has been spotted in Washington County, according to this report from The Asian insect, first seen in the U.S. in Pennsylvania a few years ago, enjoys a variety of fruits, making this invasion a serious danger to orchard owners in the area. Biologists aren't sure how the insects got to Maryland, but as I've said before, Maryland is the place to be if you're an invasive species. In a related story, brown stink bugs (unsure of species) have infested the campus of Lehigh University, both inside and out.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Dead Ducks

Message from Morocco to the North American ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis): get out of here! The World Conservation Union (IUCN) is reporting that its Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation brought together experts from Morocco, France, Spain and the UK to discuss plans to eradicate the ducks. Similar eradication programs have already been instituted in the other countries invited to participate in the meeting. Rare native Mediterranean ducks are losing habitat to the unwanted American birds, and unfortunately make control programs very tricky to implement.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

And the Winners Are...

The USDA announced this month that they awarded $1.5 million in grants, to organizations in 8 states that will be studying the economic impacts of various aspects of invasive species management. There are a total of twelve intriguing projects, all but one of which are in conjuncton with a university. You can find out more about the PREISM (Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management) competitive grants by clicking here.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Super Models

Those wishing to educate the public about four of the most annoying weeds in the western U.S. now have an intriguing new option to assist them: plastic and silk models. The Center for Invasive Plant Management has developed accurate models of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) and dalmation toadflax (Linaria genistifolia ssp. dalmatica). Purchasing information can be found here.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting this information.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Recently Published

New in the journals this month:

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Anchored down in Anchorage?

Anchorage, Alaska can no longer claim to be the largest rat-free port city in the Northern Hemisphere. According to this report from the Anchorage Daily News, several brown and white Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) were recently discovered by a woman and her young son who had stopped to feed some ducks. Anchorage has very strict laws prohibiting the import or possession of any rat without a permit, and no one in town had such a permit. The origin of the rodents is still under investigation.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Fighting Fire with Fire

As reported by The Times of India, the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad recently released 200,000 gambusia fish (Gambusia sp.) into India's Hussain Sagar Lake, in an attempt to control mosquito populations. Problem is that gambusia themselves are a known invasive species. But there continues to contraversy in India about the introduction: while some claim that the fish dine solely on mosquito larvae, others insist that the fish are a threat to the native flora and fauna of the lake. I'm a bit confused myself, since it appears Hussain Sagar Lake is a man-made body of water (though it is over 400 centuries old).

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Love Bug(Mobile)

What better way to get the news out about invasive species than with a talking Volkswagen? Well, maybe it sounds a little silly, but then you do get to call your car the "BugMobile." Now everyone can share in the joy of Penn State's BugMobile by viewing their new, award-winning video: "BugMobile vs. The Invasive Species." A report from the Environmental News Network describes the video, which discusses how IPM (Integrated Pest Management) can be used to combat invasive species, and provides details on how to purchase it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Biocontrol Bonanza

Yet another weapon has been added to the U.S. biological control arsenal: Yahoo! News is reporting that New Mexico has joined other western states in releasing Tamarisk leaf beetles (Diorhabda elongata) to manage burgeoning populations of salt cedar (Tamarix spp.). Salt cedar is an invasive tree that causes problems in the already drought-prone western U.S. with its thirsty, water-seeking root system. Right now, this biocontrol is still in the testing phase - scientists are hoping the beetles survive the cool New Mexico winters and can multiply in the spring. There is also some concern that if the beetles have a negative effect on salt cedar, this will in turn have a negative impact on the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus), a bird which has taken to nesting in the salt cedar that has replaced the native vegetation of its habitat.

Thanks to Jeremy at for emailing the link to this report.

Update:There was a conference in Colorado on October 22 where the USDA announced a widespread project to release the leaf beetles in 13 different states next spring. You can read a brief story about it at (Thanks Alex).

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


ARS Newslink is reporting that scientists at the Agricultural Research Service have found several potential biological controls for the nasty, smelly skunk vine (Paederia foetida) that has invaded the southeastern U.S. At least 600 specimens of the best candidate, a flea beetle (Trachyaphthona sordida), have been shipped to a quarantine facility in Hawaii for further testing (i.e. they want to make sure the beetles don't eat native species as well). You can see a whole list of potential biocontrols for skunk vine in this report, and read the entire skunk vine article in this month's issue of Agricultural Research Magazine. Bonus points to ARS Newslink for using scientific names.

Monday, October 13, 2003

South African WeedBusters

Yesterday was the start of South Africa's WeedBusters Week 2003, as reported by Sponsored by the Working for Water program, which is part of the Department of Water Affairs, the campaign aims to target natural areas for invasive species removal, and will also examine ways that the nursery industry can prevent future introductions of invasive plants. The Weedbusters Week campaign is an offshoot of the Australian program mentioned in previous blog entries.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

That Bites.

I already knew that around this time of year in the temperate U.S., Asian ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis can be quite a nuisance, as they seek warmth and shelter inside people's homes. But until this article from The Detroit News, I never knew that they could bite. Apparently they can and do bite humans, something to keep in mind the next time you marvel at one that has landed on you. Asian ladybugs (ladybird beetles) were introduced to the U.S. because they prey on tree-dwelling aphids, something few native ladybugs have a taste for.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Re: Prints

Some interesting reads in the magazine section of your local bookstore this month...

  • The October issue of Yankee Magazine features Asiatic bittersweet (Celastus orbiculatus) on the cover. Inside you'll find the article "New Ideas for Bittersweet," which gives several tips for decorating the outside of your house with fruit-laden branches of this invasive plant. The article does have a little box in the corner of one page, mentioning that bittersweet can be invasive, and recommends pruning it vigorously to control it. Here's my decorating tip: don't use it! The last thing you want is Asiatic bittersweet vines popping up all over your yard next year.
  • Cats & Rats: In the September-October issue of E Magazine, there's an interesting, well-balanced piece about feral cats titled "Kitty the Killer?." Also in that issue is "Getting Rid of Rats," about the effort to rid California's Anacapa Island of the non-native rats that threaten the island's endangered species.

Friday, October 10, 2003

New in Fiction

I just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby, and was surprised to find several pages devoted to a treatise on invasive species, brought to the reader mostly by the annoying self-righteous character known as Oyster. A book that on the surface is about the power of witchcraft and spells, it actually delves deep into the affect humans are having on the world and considers whether there's any turning back. This book is not for the kiddies, and not for the squeamish either, but definitely worth a read if you don't fall into one of the aforementioned categories. Best fictional reference to invasive species I've seen since the brief mentions in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. (Know other fictional books that mention invasive species? Email me.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

It's gotta be the Maple

Canada is trying to take a proactive stance against the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), since its first appearance in that country this past September. So it was good to see this article in RealtyTimes, warning people that although this insect poses no direct threat to human health, it could definitely impact our lives by destroying the trees in our parks and forests. The article provides details about how to spot a tree that has been attacked, who to contact, and other helpful information (even the beetle's scientific name!). And yes, one of the Asian longhorned beetle's favorite snacks: Maple trees.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Flea at last

Not content to let snakeheads steal all the limelight, the tiny, spiny water flea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi) has also made its presence known in the state of Wisconsin. Already a problem in the Great Lakes, the water flea had not been seen in an inland Wisconsin lake until last week, when scientists discovered the species abundant in all parts of Gile Flowage. The state officials are concerned that the appearance of the water flea in this shallow lake is a sign of what is to come for other bodies of water in the area.

Monday, October 06, 2003

The Mysterious Leaf Miner

Radio Netherland is reporting that the mysterious horse chestnut leaf-mining micromoth (Cameraria ohridella) is making its way across Europe, and has spread to the Ukraine and the UK. Originating in Southern Europe (Macedonia), the insect species does not appear to have been catalogued until as recently as the mid-1980s. The favorite host plant for the leaf miners, the horse chestnut ("Conker" tree, Aesculus hippocastanum) is suffering, as populations lose leaves, branches, and eventually entire trees. No one is sure what has caused the insect to spread, but scientists will be holding a symposium in Prague next year to discuss the ecology of the species and options for management. Here's hoping this creature never reaches the US! If you click on the Real Audio link you can hear the original broadcast of this story. Bonus points to Radio Netherland for using the insect's scientific name.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The Year in Weeds

Just finished work on the 2004 Invasive Plants of North America Wall Calendars. Each month of the yearly calendar features a different invasive plant. You can order this and other invasive plant gear from the ISW store.

front cover of wall calendar

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Islands Effected

At a recent conference in Switzerland, scientists gave several presentations about effects of non-native plant introductions on islands in the Indian Ocean. As reported at Seychelles Nation Online, the islands of Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion and Comoros are dealing with a variety of non-native plant invasions, including Koster's curse (Clidemia hirta) and possibly even an orchid species, Orchid�e Coco (unsure of scientific name).

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Lit Search

New in the peer-reveiwed journals:

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Imperfect Pear

If you're planning on incorporating Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana, also known as Callery pear) into your landscaping or street plantings, you may want to reconsider. As reported in the Washington Post and also in the Newark Star Ledger (must enter zip code etc. to access article), the trees are falling (pun intended) left and right since Hurricane Isabella blew through a couple of weeks ago. The Callery pear, a tree native to Asia, has been widely planted along streets in the eastern U.S., and is admired for its beautiful white flowers. Unfortunately, the trees are now also known for their short lifespan (around twenty years) and their tendency to break apart all the way down to the trunk.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting the Post story.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

More Treading in Water

More news from the aquatic plant front: as reported in the San Antonio Express-News, water trumpet (Cryptocoryne beckettii) is threatening populations of endangered plants in portions of the San Marcos River in central Texas. The initial introduction of the species, which is native to Sri Lanka, is thought to have been via the dumping of the contents of an aquarium, since water trumpet and other species in the genus are used in the aquarium hobby. While known in the wild in Texas for over a decade, water trumpet did not begin its rapid expansion until the late 1990's. The remaining option to protect the river ecosystem now appears to be control, rather than eradication, for as one biologist put it, "It took us a long time to react and now we are paying the price."

Monday, September 29, 2003

Disease Trumps Weed

Officials from all levels of government met in Santa Rosa, California last week to discuss plans to control the invasive aquatic species water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) in the Laguna de Santa Rosa. But, according to this article in The Press Democrat, the aquatic weed has become a top priority not because of the fact that it now covers over 300 acres of the Laguna, but because it is prime mosquito habitat, and officials are highly concerned about stopping the spread of West Nile virus (Flavivirus sp.). Mosquito larvae and eggs can escape pesticide sprays from within the flowers and leaves of water primrose plants. The goal of significantly reducing populations before next spring will likely be accomplished with herbicide application. (Bonus points to The Press Democrat for using the scientific name.)

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Cheeseheads and Snakeheads

Possibly signaling the beginning of a new snakehead saga, this article from the Environmental News Network reports on the discovery of a two-foot giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes) in Wisconsin. Most of you reading this will remember the media frenzy that occured over the snakeheads found in a pond in Maryland last year. The Wisconsin fish, found in the Rock River during a routine survey, is suspected to have been dumped by an aquarium hobbyist. Unfortunately the fish was initially misidentified as native, and as a result was released back into the river.

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

Saturday, September 27, 2003


Vermont has suspended the application of lampricide to control sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in streams surrounding Lake Champlain, according to this article from WCAX news. On the other side of the lake, New York is proceeding with a similar program, but some Vermont state officials are concerned about the chemical composition of the lampricide, 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM), which was reformulated this year. Treatment, if it does occur, is now at least one year away. It is unclear whether sea lamprey, which spawn in fresh water, are native to Lake Champlain or the Great Lakes, but these parasitic fish are generally unwelcome.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Got Yer Goat

Taking a few days off. Stay tuned, the ISW will be back Friday! While you wait, ponder this piece from the Sun and Weekly Herald. Are feral cats scapegoats, taking the blame while their tame brethren do all the damage?

Monday, September 22, 2003

Weenie Plant!

Could the invasive kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata) one day be eclipsed by the up-and-coming cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica)? Yes, according to this article in Lakeland, Florida's The Ledger. Researchers say cogon grass encourages hot-burning fires, kills pine seedlings, and has fewer pests and is harder to kill than kudzu. To get a more rigorous scientific stance, The Ledger interviews scientist James Miller from the U.S. Forest Service. "Kudzu's a weenie plant compared to cogon grass," states James. (Okay, James, but has that statement been peer reviewed? :-)

Friday, September 19, 2003

Swan Song Redux

Looks like Maryland's burgeoning mute swan population (Cygnus olor) has gotten a stay of execution, at least for the next couple of years. According to this article from, the dispute between state wildlife officials and animal rights' organizations went all the way to federal court, where it was decided that all permits to shoot the swans would be revoked. The permits cannot be reissued until the federal government completes an environmental impact study to determine the effects the swans have on habitat and native species. The state is currently looking into alternative methods to reduce the number of swans, most likely by treating eggs with oil to prevent them from hatching.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Reaching the Summit

The New England Invasive Plant Summit is tomorrow through Saturday, in Framingham, MA. Talks from several of the top invasive plant ecologists are expected, from Sarah Reichard to Randy Westbrooks to Richard Mack. If you decide you want to go, you can register on-site. Be sure to stop by my poster display and ask for an Invasive Species Weblog magnet!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A Chestnut of a Tale

New York's Wappingers Lake is covered with water chestnut plants (Trapa natans), and it is costing taxpayers, according to this report in the Poughkeepsee Journal. It's also impacting recreational use of the lake, making it almost impossible to traverse certain sections by boat. Wappingers Falls has already spent about $100,000 trying to control the invasive aquatic, but in an attempt to discourage growth of water chestnut, plans are afoot to dredge the lake and make it deeper, a project that would cost an estimated $1 million.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I'm Empressed

Kerry Kellam, a certified arborist, recently wrote a thoughtful piece about the empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) in the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. In it, he describes the process of researching this species after a request for more information from a reader (bonus points for using the scientific name!). The empress tree, often touted as fast-growing and resilient, is considered invasive in several parts of the U.S.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Guardians of the Lake

New Hampshire instituted a program this year to aid in efforts to educate the public about invasive aquatic plants. Called the "Lake Host" program, it enlists paid "Guardians of the Lake" to be stationed at boat launch sites across the state, to inspect boats and educate their owners. The hosts are already credited with preventing the introduction of Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) in three different lakes. Funded by a federal grant, the program is scheduled to be turned over to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services next year.

Friday, September 12, 2003

"And in this corner, weighing in at over 2000 pounds..."

In an attempt to free California's Stone Lakes Basin from the grip of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife is bringing in "The Shredder." As reported by KCRA, The Shredder, basically a boat with a mulcher attachment, travels through the water shredding everything in its path. While there is hope that this method of control, a welcome alternative to aquatic herbicides, will be effective against water hyacinth, there have already been problems with the thick vegetation and roots of the plants getting caught in the mulcher blades. The solution? They're bringing in "The Terminator", The Shredder's beefy big brother. Be sure to click on the "Video" link on the page to see The Shredder in action.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Place To Be

Let's say you're an up-and-coming invasive species, where would the hip place to hang out be? Probably Maryland, temporary home of the infamous northern snakehead (Channa argus) and likely permanent home of the mute swan (Cygnus olor). That's exactly where the emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis) has headed as well, according to this article from the Washington Post. The insects, first discovered in the U.S. last year, had previously been found only in Ohio and Michigan. An as of yet unidentified nursery in Maryland received at least one shipment of contaminated ash trees, which will now be destroyed, from another nursery in the state of Michigan (which has banned the sale or transport of ash trees in several counties). Officials are also looking into whether the nursery in question accidentally shipped the contaminated trees to a site in Virginia as well.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

It's the Law(s)!

The Defenders of Wildlife have a great, informative part of their web site, called "Saving Biodiversity: A Status Report on State Laws, Policies and Programs". I found it while browsing the web today. If you scroll down the page (I've linked to Massachusetts as an example), you will see that for each state, under the heading "Exotic Species," are the laws that state has to regulate non-native plants and animals. The column on the left allows you to go to any state's page. A valuable resource that is worth checking out.

Monday, September 08, 2003

New York: The New Tropical Paradise?

Add the lionfish (Pterois volitans) to the list of tropical species that can make it up here in the Northeast U.S. is reporting that the poisonous marine species has been spotted in Shinnecock Bay in New York, and also near Belmar, New Jersey. Actually, these fish have been spotted in the region before, but the fact that there have been repeated sightings, and that the recently caught individuals were juveniles, suggests that perhaps populations are becoming established. Though inital finger pointing was aimed at aquarium hobbyists and the fish trade industry, scientists are also looking at the possibility that lionfish larvae are being unintentionally transported in ballast water.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Hot Off The Presses (alternate title: Shameless Self Promotion)

The following book, sure to be praised by biologists far and wide, and on its way to being an international best seller, was recently published: Plant invasions: ecological threats and management solutions. 2003. edited by Lois Child, J.H. Brock, G. Brundu, K. Prach, P. Pysek, P.M. Wade & M. Williamson. Backhuys Publishers, The Netherlands. (The above was not in any way influenced by the fact that I authored one of the chapters in the book.)

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Hunting for Treasure

As reported in the Anniston Star, dozens of scientists descended on Mobile Bay, Alabama this past week, to search the estuarine waters for signs of non-native species. Brought together by the Alabama-Mississippi Rapid Assessment Team (AMRAT) and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, the scientists took ballast water samples and scraped around in fouling communities, finding several new species never before seen in Alabama. Next stop for the AMRAT is Mississippi Sound.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Cheat Repeats

From Nevada's The Record-Courier comes this article about the problems caused by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and what's being done about it. Cheatgrass is a dangerous weed because it fuels hot, fast fires that native vegetation can't recover from and that firefighters can barely control. An interesting bit of trivia in the article notes that a clump of the grass can be grazed 12 times in a season and still set seed, an impressive feat. Although cheatgrass is eaten by some grazing animals, it provides less nutrition than other plants, and if eaten late in the season, can puncture the throats of animals with its stiff, pointy seeds.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

EPA Passes the Buck

The EPA has decided to step aside and will not regulate ballast water discharges, according to this article in The Mercury News. The reason given was that the Coast Guard has already taken the lead in regulation. Environmental groups are upset, and some are threatening to sue the EPA, with the goal of getting them to invoke the powerful Clean Water Act in an attempt to stem the flow of countless numbers of non-native aquatic species into U.S. waters. You can read more about what the Coast Guard's doing for ballast water management by clicking here.

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

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Water Weeds of Wonder

Residents of Lunenberg, MA are livid about the infestation of Lake Shirley with Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), according to this article in the Sentinel & Enterprise. The article goes on to mention that all but 4 lakes in Massachusetts contain invasive species. Turns out this isn't quite true...yet. What the Mass. Congress of Lake & Pond Associations meant was that out of about 200 lakes managed by the Department of Environmental Management, all but 4 have invasives. They are still collecting data on the 3000 or so lakes and ponds in the state, but so far at least 50% have at least one invasive species present.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Hydrilla found in the Fountain of Youth?

I recently discovered this site from a link in the banner ads that appear at the top of the blog. It's an advertisement encouraging people to buy "Hydrilla Plus," a putative anti-aging herbal supplement. If you click here you'll see that the main ingredient in Hydrilla Plus is Hydrilla verticillata, the invasive, pervasive, aquatic plant that many have grown to hate. I would say the product is doing a great job, as evidenced by the photo of grey-haired Dr. Halvorson, father of seven children and currently over 250 years old! (just kidding)

Friday, August 29, 2003

Monky See, Monky Do

Monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) have arrived in Barcelona, Spain, and as reported in this article from BBC News, they're definitely making their presence known. Native to South America, the cute green birds (also known as Quaker parrots) are kept as pets by bird-lovers all over the world. Unfortunately, many have escaped or have been released, and in the areas where they've become established, they cause problems by eating anything green they can get their beak in. In Spain, this has meant the loss of tomato crops and a decline in native bird populations.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2003

New in Print

Recent journal articles about invasive species (most links are to abstracts):

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Bucket Biology

There seems to be a bit of a split in the sport fishing community, between those concerned with depleting stocks of native fish and preventing new introductions, and those that just want to fish and are happy to let the government continue to stock bodies of water with species like the northern pike (Esox lucius). In Maine, angler Bob Mallard recently published this piece in the Kennebec Journal, addressing the DIF&W's policy of managing illegally introduced fish species in major bodies of water. Bob also has a forum at the website for his store, Kennebec River Outfitters, where you can find a lot of posts from anglers with similar concerns. You can also read Bob's recent article in the Northwoods Sporting Journal. By the way, "Bucket Biology" refers to the illegal introduction of species into bodies of water by transporting them in a bucket.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Lobate Probate

I just recently discovered Jack Rodgers's web site that he created to publicize the effects of lobate lac scale (Paratachardina lobata lobata) in Florida. The site is chock full of information, including many, many photos. Well worth a look.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Wattle Lotta Wattle

This article from Radio Nederland describes the problems South Africa is having with the black wattle tree (Acacia mearnsii). Black wattle, native to Australia, was introduced to South Africa over a century ago for its bark, which can be used for tanning, and is also valued as a timber tree. Unfortunately, the trees have naturalized, and now cause problems due to their high demand for water. The article also has a link to the radio broadcast of this story, featured on the show "Research File."