Tuesday, August 31, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Monday, August 30, 2004

Oysters Clam Up

Louisiana oyster farmers are concerned about the effect that importing and growing live bivalves will have on their industry. As reported by The Times-Picayune, their focus is on two problems: 1) Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) that are being seeded into the Chesapeake Bay, and 2) green mussels (Perna viridis) that were introduced by ballast water and threaten Louisiana oyster beds. If you are interested in the subject of introduced oysters, be sure to check out the book "Nonnative Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay," which is available in its entirety on the web here.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bringing Back the Snakehead

The Herald-Mail is reporting that Maryland officials, under pressure from the pet industry and hobbyists, have agreed to revise their ruling banning all 29 known species of snakehead fish (Channa spp.). The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will review the list and remove any snakehead species that can only survive in tropical waters. Here's hoping they err on the side of caution.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Beating the System

Old Way: Grow rice, lose valuable rice harvest following infestation of golden apple snails (Pomacea spp.). New way: Using the tips provided in this module offered by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture, convince golden apple snails to avoid rice and instead dine on the weeds of the rice paddies. If it works, you get a good rice harvest and escargot to boot!

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

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Rising from the Ashes

If you heard about Michigan's response to the arrival of the emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus agriplennis), which was to remove millions of infested ash trees, maybe you were wondering what they were doing with all that wood. According to this story from the Detroit Free Press, the state was converting the cut trees to wood chips to fuel a power plant. But now there's a company called LaMont Brothers Tree Service that has found a more efficient use. They take the trees, strip away the outer layers, and use the rest to make boards that can be used as railroad ties or to make furniture. They actually applied for and received a grant to do this work - you can read more about it here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Path of the Perch

White perch (Morone americana) is a fish native to the east coast of the U.S. Over the decades it has been introduced to several other river systems in North America, where it has established large populations. But they're not quite sure how dozens of the fish ended up in Barrow Pit, Iowa, part of the Keg-Weeping Water drainage area. It's the first documented evidence of white perch in that state. Read the report here, or the history of the species here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

America's Top Model Law

The Environmental Law Institute recently published "Invasive Species Control: A Comprehensive Model State Law." The document, which discusses state-level legal options for prevention and control of invasive species, can be downloaded for free as a .pdf file. It was based on the laws from 17 different states that are discussed in this ELI report, which unfortunately is not free.

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

Monday, August 23, 2004

Ragwort Retreat

The title of this article from the Corvallis Gazette-Times may be a bit premature, but the fight against tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) invasion in Oregon seems to be winding down. After studying a variety of different management techniques, scientists settled on a combination of biological controls, disturbance regimes, and competition from native plants. Levels of tansy ragwort are now down to "1 to 3 percent of its former abundance" and native plant diversity in invaded areas is recovering.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Snake Huntin'

Someone on the island of Maui thought he spotted a 3-foot long brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) about ten days ago, and it didn't take long for rapid response teams to mobilize and begin the search. According to this report from the Honolulu Bulletin, traps have been set around the area, and the team of state workers has been joined by experts from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. While they're not sure the species was in fact a brown tree snake, they are considering this a credible snake sighting.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Lionfish (Pterois volitans) continue their spread along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. As reported by Myrtle Beach Online, scientists aboard the research ship Cape Fear have been hunting for the spiny and poisonous fish off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. In only two weeks they have found 75 fish, and one diver has been stung. According to the scientists featured in the article, the fish are already firmly established in our waters, with eradication no longer an option. Recreational divers are being warned about the invaders, while hospitals are being instructed on how to treat lionfish stings.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Rusty Waters

KRT Wire has this interesting report about rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) invading Wisconsin waters. Introduced as bait several decades ago, the crayfish often cause problems in lakes by detroying aquatic vegetation, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem and reducing fish populations. Brian Roth, a grad student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying the crayfish and thinks he has found a good management solution: add more bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) and give the predatory fish the advantage. He will be testing his hypothesis this summer.

(Okay, okay, the article calls them "rusty crawfish", but I live in the land of the "scawllup" and we call 'em crayfish).

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Pacific Salmonella

An outbreak of salmonella (Salmonella spp.) among feral cats (Felis silvestris) in Eugene, Oregon has led Animal Control officials to take strong measures to prevent the bacterial infection from spreading to other cats or to humans. As reported by KVAL 13 News, traps have been set to capture the cats, which are then placed in quarantine for a week - any infected cats are being euthanized. So far almost two dozen feral cats have been destroyed. If any cats taken from the traps have identification tags, they are being returned to their owners.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Hitching a Ride

This interesting article in New Scientist points out that the nursery industry isn't the only vector in the spread of sudden oak death (Phytopthora ramorum). Researchers have found evidence that hikers are spreading the fungus as well, albeit on a more local level. A study done in California found that when the fungus was found along forest trails, it was rarely detected in soil samples as little as two meters away.

Thanks to the UBC Botanic Garden blog for posting a link to this story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Of Course

This fall I will be teaching a course about invasive species at UMass Boston. "Invasive Species: Ecology and Management" will be a graduate-level course open to grads and undergrads (non-degree students too!) who have at least two or three biology courses under their belt. So if you are in the Boston area this fall, and are curious about things like "What characteristics make an organism 'invasive'?" "What are the pathways of invasive species introduction?" and "What's in an effective invasive species management plan?" check out the course info page, or drop me a line by clicking on the "Suggest a Post" link to your left.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Something's Fishy in the City of Denver

Colorado has just become one of only four states in the US to have a record of a wild-caught silver arawana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, also known as arowana, arrowana, arrawana...). Native to the Amazon, the arawana is a fish about on par with the snakehead (Channa spp.) in terms of its appetite (will eat anything that can fit in its mouth), size (can grow more than 24 inches long) and acrobatics (can jump several feet out of the water). The specimen collected from southeast Denver was most likely released by someone who owned it as a pet.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Ireland, Portugal in de Nile

Two Irish citizens have brought back a rather awful gift from their trip to Portugal - West Nile virus (Flavivirus). Officials are not pleased, and as reported by ic Wales, have put all of the UK on alert. While most people infected with the virus show no symptoms, a small percentage experience life-threatening symptoms, including brain inflammation.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Shooting its way to Freedom?

The Cumberland News has this story about Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) spreading throughout the UK. Introduced as an ornamental over 150 years ago, it is thought to have escaped from gardens in part because of its exploding seed pods, an efficient method of dispersal over short distances. Now large populations of the plant can be found along rivers and roadsides, where it holds the distinction of being the UK's tallest annual weed.

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

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Release the Houndstongue!

The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale) has recently been identified in four counties in North Dakota, alarming agricultural officials. While the European weed has been found in that state before, it has never been seen in such great numbers. Houndstongue is especially undesirable on farmland, since it is not palatable to livestock, and is likely to be poisonous to them if they do eat it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


One winning invention at this year's Aussie Eureka Prizes might grab the attention of a lot of folks here in the U.S. As reported by The Age, Alan Williams took first place with a fish trap that catches carp without harming native fish. The trap design is based on the fact that carp tend to jump when threatened, while few native Australian fish do. You can read more details about the award here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Iguana Trump

The green iguana (Iguana iguana) is expanding its northerly range in Florida, according to this report from the Palm Beach Post. Once restricted to only the southern tip of Florida, the Central American lizards have now made themselves at home in places like Boca Raton, where they munch on landscaped vegetation and swim in inground pools. The article features an interview with the locally known "Iguana Man," who keeps more than 50 iguanas at his "Iguana Rescue and Compound."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Swan Dive?

ABC News is reporting that there is a movement underway in Congress to amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exclude introduced species. If passed, H.R. 4114 would leave officials in states plagued by the aggressive mute swan (Cygnus olor) free to commence culling programs. They must be gearing up for a fight in Maryland!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Give myna the bird (their headline, not mine!)

The Australian is reporting that a member of Parliament from north Queensland had recommended that the Indian myna bird (Acridotheres tristis) should be declared a noxious pest by the government. State government is hesitating, looking for evidence that there is a proven method of eradicating the introduced birds, before time and resources are committed. Scientific studies of management techniques will continue.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Map of the Weeds

The Palm Beach Post has this story about efforts to manage invasive plants by tracking their location using hand-held GPS units. The project is a joint effort of several national organizations, and has locations across the country, including Florida's Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Researchers hope the digital information, by making mapping easier, will lead to quicker responses to known infestations.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Attack of the Rust Monsters

Agricultural Research Magazine is reporting on the progress of a study that will evaluate the effects of a fungus as a biological control for yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis). Spores from the rust fungus Puccinia jaceae var. solstitialis were released at a California ranch last summer, a "deadly reunion" between the fungus and the invasive weed it has been known to target in the Mediterrean. The fungus has also been found to attack safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), but plants of that species showed little damage following infection.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Snakeheads are Makin' It in Massachusetts

Just got an NAS Alert that a northern snakehead (Channa argus) was found last month in Massapoag Pond in Massachusetts. No worries, though - according to this report, the specimen has been safely disposed of in formalin. This is the first northern snakehead recorded in Massachusetts since 2001. You can view archives NAS Alerts here, or subscribe for yourself.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"Catch a Snakehead yet?"

NPR filed this audio report about the snakehead (Channa spp.) invasion, focusing mainly on aspects related to fishing. Catch it while you can on their web site. Read more ISW posts about the snakehead by clicking here.

Monday, August 02, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Sunday, August 01, 2004

SOD - The Mystery Continues

Back on July 5th of this year, the ISW reported that the fungus that causes sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) had been found in New York. Now this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sheds more light on the situation, pointing out that the infected tree, located in Nassau County's Tiffany Creek Preserve, is miles away from any nursery that might have received contaminated stock from the west coast. This finding, along with preliminary test results indicating that SOD has been found in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, suggests that the fungus may have a history on the east coast of the U.S. Can a request to lift the ban on California nursery stock be far away? You may also want to read similar this report from the New York Times (registration may be required).

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