Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"Open Not-So-Wide!"

ABC News Australia has a story about the observed adaptations in Australian snake species following the introduction of the cane toad (Bufo marinus) to the continent. Cane toads are poisonous, and the inability of snakes to recognize this has lead to selection for snakes with smaller head to body size ratios (larger relative head size --> eating larger toads --> too much poison for body size --> death). The research was just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - read the abstract or download a paper (.pdf) of related research by the same authors.

Monday, November 29, 2004

They're Crafty

Craftmakers in western North Carolina have won back the right to make and sell products using the invasive Asiatic bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus), according to this report from the Ashville Citizen Times. Their argument? That 18 western NC counties were already so infested with the weed, there would be no benefit seen from outlawing the use of it in wreath-making and dried flower arrangments. The NC Agricultural Board banned the distribution of Asiatic bittersweet back in 2003. Read the original press release here.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Holy Geometric Growth Batman!

When researchers first identified a new species of sea squirt (Didemnum sp.) in Georges Bank, it covered about 6 square miles of the ocean floor. Well folks, that was about one year ago. Current estimates indicate that the invasive tunicate now covers at least 40 square miles. MaineToday.com has the full story.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Bigger and in Boulder

The New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) has made an appearance in Boulder, Colorado, according to this new entry in the NAS Database. This is the first record of the invasive snail in that state, but perhaps it was inevitable, as the species is now found all over the Pacific Northwest. You may also want to check out this recent article from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana, about NZMS populations in Yellowstone.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Iguana Go Home!

Introduced iguana (Iguana iguana) populations in Lee County, Florida have increased to levels such that the county is now holding public meetings about the problem. Acording to this report from the Boca Beacon, public consensus is definitely that the iguanas must be removed. Unfortunately there are no easy answers here, especially as the Animal Services department maintains that their jurisdiction covers only domesticated animals, not exotic species like the iguana. Though there was this odd offer by a man who has apparently dealt with similar problems in Arizona and California.

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

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Hole in the Ace: Update

The beetles discovered in the wooden trunks of artificial Christmas trees last week (see previous ISW post) have been named: the brown fir longhorn beetle (Callidiellum villosulum) and the Japanese cedar longhorn beetle (Callidiellum rufipenne). I'm not sure if they actually found both species or are just unable to confirm ID beyond the genus - read the USDA APHIS note here. Also, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has published an informative article about the unpublicized recall of trees, including an interview with the woman in Michigan who first discovered the beetles.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Closer but no Cigar

The Northwest Indiana Times is reporting that a silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) was found last week in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a mere two miles south of the temporary electrical barrier set up to prevent carp from entering Lake Michigan. Though the carp was dead when it was discovered, officials are still very concerned about finding the fish so close to the Great Lakes system. You can view the specimen record here.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Prison Time

Here's a potentially untapped volunteer resource: ScienceBlog has a story about prisoners in Florida becoming certified to rear insects for biological control. One of the candidate species is Gratiana boliviana, a beetle that feasts upon the leaves of the tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum).

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

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Bass Line

There is a story today at asahi.com about black bass (Micropterus sp.) causing a decline in native bird populations in Japan. The bass are eating up all the smaller fish, the chief food source of wetland bird species. Researchers are also concerned that the popularity of sport fishing has lead to increased disturbance of the nesting sites of wetland birds.

Tip of the virtual hat to stercus for posting about this story.

Friday, November 19, 2004


If you're near Lake Forbes, New South Wales, this weekend, be sure to check out the carp-a-thon. As reported by the Forbes Advocate, the goal of this Aussie event is to reduce the number of the non-native fish in the lake. Lucky fishermen and fisherwomen will receive prizes for the best catches. If the program is successful, there are plans to turn the lake into a breeding area for rare native species.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Boa Knows Cozumel

Are introduced boa constrictors (Boa constrictor) responsible for the near extinction of the Cozumel thrasher (Toxostoma guttatum)? Scientists may never have known, had one of them not discovered one of the endemic island birds, after almost a decade of wondering whether the species had perished. The Times Leader is reporting that Dr. Robert L. Curry hopes to study nesting sites of the thrasher to determine whether boa predation is a threat. Thrasher populations tanked around 1988, after Hurricane Gilbert passed over the island.

Thanks to Val C. for sending in the link.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Rustin' Out All Over

Last week the ISW posted about the arrival of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi, P. meibomiae) in the US. Now Reuters is reporting that the fungus has been found in three states: Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Other southeastern states are sure to follow. Thanks, Ivan.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Hole in the Ace

The Bureau County Republican is reporting that APHIS inspectors called to an Ace Hardware warehouse in Princeton, Illinois may have found a nasty early Christmas present. Following a complaint from a customer in Michigan, who found a beetle in the wooden trunk of a recently purchased artificial Christmas tree, the Michigan Department of Agriculture contacted APHIS officials. The team dispatched to the Ace warehouse discovered what they think is a Japanese cedar longhorned beetle (Callidiellum rufipenne). Identification is still being confirmed, but if this is a foreign critter, expect a national recall along the lines of last year's potpourri fiasco.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Interesting article from the Anchorage Daily News about the preventative measures undertaken on the islands of St. Paul and St. George to keep Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) from invading. The threat of introduction is fairly constant given the number of boats and ships that pass by on their way to and from Alaska. A key worry is that ships will accidentally run aground or be shipwrecked in the area.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

NEANS Media and Node

There are three excellent* new web resources available for those of you in Northeast North America that are concerned about aquatic and wetland invasive species. The Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel (NEANS) recently debuted a page with links to the many different priority nuisance species lists for the region, as well as a page listing control technologies for a select list of those species. Finally, there is now a web version of a research poster presented last year, comparing invasive plant species lists among the New England states.

* I designed these pages, so take the word "excellent" as you will :-).

Friday, November 12, 2004

Win One for the Chipper

Residents of Long Island City, New York now have a new way to protect the state against the spread of the wood-boring Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). As reported by the Queens Chronicle, the city's Parks Department is offering free chipping and disposal services for tree prunings, firewood and other primary woody materials. The article has information about how to arrange for the wood shredding services by phone or online.

In a related story, the city of Vaughan, Ontario is giving away free mulch this Saturday to help protect local trees. The mulching program was developed to increase communication between the government and city residents affected by Asian longhorned beetle infestations.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It's heeeeeeeeeeeerrre!

Back in August of 2003, the ISW posted a story about U.S. concern about the spread of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi, P. meibomiae) in Brazil. Now comes news from the USDA that the fungus was discovered last week at a Louisiana State University research farm. A USDA soybean rust detection assessment team is on the scene to, well, assess the situation. Bonus points to the USDA for using the rust's scientific name in the press release.

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Everyone Loves a Log

The content of all 800+ ISW posts is archived and searchable in the Atomz search window to your left. Here are the top searches from October at the Invasive Species Weblog:

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Marshing Ahead

An AP article about salt marsh cord grass (Spartina alterniflora) invading San Francisco Bay is currently making the rounds. Seems the species is spreading a lot faster than even those anticipating its invasion had expected. For more on salt marsh cord grass from the ISW, search the archive.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Science Blog has this story about using Russian thistle (Salsola tragus, a tumbleweed not related to the true thistles) and other weeds to suck up depleted uranium from contaminated soil. Sounds good, but then what do they use to suck up all of the Russian thistle? :-)

Friday, November 05, 2004

How did they find it?

Weather loaches (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) were my favorite fish to buy for our tropical aquarium when I was growing up. I thought it was neat because they buried themselves in the gravel and went crazy when the barometric pressure changed. After a few months of not seeing one, we would root around in the gravel, but could never find any trace of it. So I wonder how the heck someone found a weather loach in a wetland in Oregon, as reported here (from the NAS Alert System). Apparently the fish have escaped from fish farms and have also been used as bait. The fact that this species can handle low dissolved oxygen levels probably makes it a prime candidate to populate disturbed, eutrophic bodies of water.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Urban Birds

There's a new book out about the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) and its place in urban habitats. "Parrots in the City, One Bird's Struggle for a Place on the Planet" sounds like it is going to leaning way towards the pro-parrot side. For balance, you may want to peruse these excellent ISW posts from guest blogger Jason South: Monk Parakeets I and Monk Parakeets II. "Parrots in the City" is also available here as an ebook.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Jumping Brahminy!

Brahminy worms (Ramphotyphlops braminus) are a tropical species of snake, so what the heck are they doing way up in Minnesota? Yard & Garden Line News has the story. Biologists think they hitchhiked over in the soil of a potted plant. The Asian snakes are established in Florida and Hawaii but are not thought to pose a threat in Minnesota, because it would be difficult for them to survive the chilly winters. Unfortunately the reptiles are parthenogenetic, meaning that they don't need males to reproduce.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Making Lemonade from Alien Lemons

The Honolulu Star Bulletin has a nice story about Hawaiian clothing artist Anna Peach. Anna uses many of the islands' alien plants to build unique sculptures of dresses, shoes and corsets. Anna says some people want to wear her work, but she knows that could contribute to the further spread of the invasives from which she harvests seed. See examples of Anna's work here, or visit her studio web page.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Looks like that Mexican town I blogged about last week has given up the fight against a huge rat infestation. Atascaderos officials are now saying the town's inhabitants will just have to learn to live with the long-tailed critters - all 250,000 of them. Again, Cat Out Loud blog has gone on quite a rant...head on over there for a good read. Here's the link to a report from BBC News as well.