Monday, February 28, 2005

The Snake Hunter

Python Pete, the beagle being trained to hunt burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) in the Florida Everglades, is the star of this funny audio piece from NPR's All Things Considered. Here's hoping Pete makes it through training and become a full-fledged snake hunter. Interested readers may also want to check out this other ISW post about Python Pete.

Thanks to Val C. for sending in the link.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Amphibian Assaults

Fed up with burgeoning populations of American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) in British Columbia, scientist Stan Orchard is taking action. According to this report from CBC News, Orchard will be employing what he calls the "removal technique" - "you simply keep removing them and removing them until your numbers drop off to zero." Good luck Stan! Interested ISW readers may also want to check out this related article from the Goldstream News Gazette.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"I take my fill of ambrosia..."

According to this report from The Island Packet, the death of red bay trees (Persea bobonia) on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island may not have been due to drought, as was previously thought. Researchers are now investigating the invasion of the Asian ambrosia beetle (Xylosandrus crassiusculus) as the root cause of the dieoffs. The beetles, which have been in nearby Georgia since at least 2002 (though this page notes that the original introduction in South Carolina in the mid-1970s), damage the trees and leave behind a nasty fungal infection to boot.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Alien Economics

Environmental Valuation & Cost-Benefit News posted about a new review from the EPA, titled "The Economic Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species: A Review of the Literature." (.pdf)It is an interesting review of economic impact studies, including the two big ones from the OTA (federal Office of Technology Assessment, 1993) and Pimentel et al. (2000).

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Going Coconuts

China View is reporting that most of Hainan Province, an island in southern China, has been invaded by a species of coconut leaf beetle (Brontispa longissima) native to Indonesia. First found in 2002, the leaf beetle attacks the foliage of many different palm species, but apparently has a preference for the coconut palm, one of the chief species on the island. Officials are concerned that they could be in danger of losing every palm in the province.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I am the Key Master

My electronic field guide to "Invasive Plants in Winter" has finally gone beta, so to speak, over at the efgKeys website. It features invasives from the New England region, though those of you from other temperate parts of North America are sure to see some familiar species. To check it out, head over to the site and choose it from the pull-down menu in Step 1. The Java-based picture key is the coolest, but the software also serves up the key in several other flavors, like HTML and PDF. The best part about this is that all I have to do is set up a spreadsheet and some images, and the software, developed by the excellent EFG Research Group at UMass Boston, does all the hard work.

P.S. - The software is currently operating at port 8080...some firewalls automatically block this, so you might have to fiddle with your system to access the site.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sayonara Sahara!

The Yuma Sun is reporting that parts of Arizona are now infested with Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii). The dense populations are found mostly along roadsides, and while this itself may not make a huge impact on native plant diversity, the fact that they could lead to massive wildfires could. The fuel load where there is Sahara mustard is much higher than normal, and officials are concerned that a carelessly tossed cigarette butt or match will lead to big problems in Yuma County this season.

Interested readers may also want to check out this article from the Las Vegas Sun about the "Mustard Busters" in Nevada.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Here we go Again

Jim Beers is at it again with "The purpose of invasive species," a commentary published online at the dubious URL of "" Among other incendiary things he mentions are "The Invasive Species advocates (politicians, bureaucrats, professors, and the radical groups partnering with them) really want to eliminate what makes this country great." He also suggests that those people all move to Afghanistan or Rwanda "where there are no Invasive Species." Since his argument against invasive species "advocates" is based on something as nitpicky as the cutoff date by which all species arriving in America become non-native, I will be just as nitpicky and point out that neither Rwanda nor Afghanistan are free from the problems caused by introduced species or the anthropogenic disturbance that can allow these species to thrive.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Tipping the Scales

Dr. Ian Fleming had something very interesting to say at a (three hour??) presentation at the annual AAAS meeting, according to this EurekAlert!. His research suggests that it may make more sense to farm Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) than Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.)...on the Pacific coast. His reasoning is that farmed Pacific salmon could escape and pollute the wild salmon gene pool, while escaped Atlantic salmon would not interbreed with their Pacific counterparts.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Into tracking weeds? Check out The Nature Conservancy's WIMS, short for "Weed Information Management System." This free software can be used on a desktop, laptop, or even palmtop computer systems. WIMS gives you the ability to record or import mapping data, to produce reports, and to assess infestations and record treatment types using the included templates. Visit the site to download the software and find out what you need to get started doing your own invasive species tracking.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Slip Sliding Away in Australia

It's hard for me to think of the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta) - cute but water-polluting pet, native American turtle - as an invasive species. But the ISW has already featured stories about the problems this species is causing in Asia. Now there's this story from Australia's National Nine News, and they actually refer to the sliders as "cane toad-like" turtles (that is not a compliment). Seems the turtles, introduced as pets to the continent about a decade ago, were accidentally/intentionally released and have since become established in the wild. Wildlife officials have been trapping the creatures and note that their range is expanding.

National Geographic Invader

The March issue of National Geographic features a report titled "Attack of the Alien Invaders." Their website has lots of extras to accompany the paper version of the report, including their trademark excellent photos. You can even share your own views about invasive species in their forum . Of course there's already a Theodoropoulos supporter there to stoke the fire by claiming "first post" :-).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


The Agricultural Research Service is one of the sponsors of Melapaleuza, which begins this week in Florida. The goal of Melapaleuza is to spread information about control methods for the the invasive tree Melaleuca quinquenervia. I can't find any evidence, but I'm sure Perry Farrell had a hand in this somehow :-)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Going...Going...Almost Gone

According to this report on HortNews, Biosecurity New Zealand was on the brink of declaring that the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) had been eradicated from their country. Unfortunately, a male specimen of the North American moth was found last week in a pheremone trap, indicating that populations have not yet been completely wiped out. If no more moths or larvae are found, the eradication project will officially be declared successful in June 2005.

Bonus points to HortNews for using the moth's scientific name.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Go get 'em, Snoopy!

National Geographic News is reporting that officials from Florida's Everglades National Park have enlisted the services of a dog to help them track down invasive Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus). The beagle puppy, appropriately named "Python Pete," is being trained to track the scent of the snake species, and should be out on his first official mission within the next couple of months.

Thanks to Val C. for sending in a link to this story.

Friday, February 11, 2005

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Catch a Falling Starling

Note to the USDA: It would be nice if you could maybe send out a warning to the local townsfolk next time you decide to poison a big flock of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). According to this story from the Peoria Journal Star, residents in the town of Washington, Illinois were horrified to discover hundreds of dead starlings on their property last week, in some cases more than 20 birds per homeowner. A representative from the USDA stated that the poisoning was done to reduce population numbers, but won't reveal where the flock was from or who requested the culling.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Tangled Bank

The latest version of the Tangled Bank is out, and it's huge! Go there and learn about all kinds of biology-related topics. Fifty bonus points to anyone who can find the ISW post. :-)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Cats claw creeper vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati) is twining its way along the Rocky River in Australia, according to this article from the Tenterfield Star. In an effort to manage this woody vine, which causes erosion and is capable of strangling the trees it covers, several organizations have gotten together to fund contractors that cut the vines and apply pesticide to the remaining stumps.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Oh Crappie

The kid in me cannot resist posting this interesting Village Soup article about a fish known as the black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus). Last week a boy caught a black crappie in Norton's Pond in Maine. It was the second individual of that species to be caught in the area within the past year. Maine, which has a strict policy against non-native fish introductions, is offering a $2000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone illegally stocking Maine waters with these or other non-native fish.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Made in Japan

Last month Japan came out with the country's first official list of invasive species. Problem (for me anyway) was that although there were some English-language articles about the list, there were no sources that actually included the list itself. Thanks to the magic of email and the ugliness of HTML-rendered Excel, I now bring you the official list of invasive species in Japan:

Mammalia: Mammals:
Macaca cyclopis Formosan rock macaque
Macaca fascicularis long-tailed macaque
Macaca mulatta rhesus monkey
Procyon lotor Northern raccoon
Procyon cancrivorus crab-eating raccoon
Herpestes javanicus Indian mongoose
Callosciurus erythraeus Pallas squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis Eastern grey squirrel
Myocastor coypus nutria
Trichosurus vulpecula brushtail possum
Muntiacus reevesi Muntjac deer
Aves: Birds:
Garrulax canorus hwamei
Garrulax perspicillatus masked laughingthrush
Garrulax sannio white-browed laughingthrush
Leiothrix lutea red-billed leiothrix
Reptilia: Reptiles:
Chelydra serpentina snapping turtle
Anolis carolinensis green anole
Anolis sagrei brown anole
Boiga irregularis brown tree snake
Elaphe taeniura friesi Taiwan beauty snake
Protobothrops mucrosquamatus Taiwan habu snake
Amphibia: Amphibians:
Bufo marinus cane toad
Pisces: Fish:
Micropterus dolomieu smallmouth bass
Lepomis macrochirus bluegill
Ictalurus punctatus channel catfish
Insecta: Insects:
Solenopsis invicta red imported fire ant
Solenopsis geminata fire ant
Linepithema humile Argentine ant
Invertebrata: Arachnids:
Latrodectus hasseltii redback spider
Latrodectus geometricus brown widow spider
Latrodectus tredecimguttatus black widow spider
Latrodectus mactans black widow spider
Loxosceles - 2 species recluse/violin spiders
Dipluridae - 2 genera giant spiders
Buthidae - all species scorpions
Tracheophyta: Aquatic plants:
Alternanthera philoxeroides alligator weed
Hydrocotyle ranunculoides floating pennywort
Gymnocoronis spilanthoides Senegal tea
(Thanks to T. Yoshioka for being so kind as to provide me with the list of scientific names.)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Get Out of Here, You Smarmy Little Topmouth Gudgeon!!!

Britain's Environment Agency is so desperate to rid Ratherheath Tarn of the invasive fish known as the topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva), they are resorting to poisoning the whole lake. Gudgeons are an Asian import, still available for sale in the U.K. aquarium trade (if you get a license), and they've been in the Tarn for at least 50 years. Workers are going to remove as many of the native fish as possible and port them to a fish farm before adding the poison to the water. Read the whole report over at Manchester Online.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Oh Deer

According to this story from the San Francisco Chronicle, the National Park Service is darned sick of dealing with the exotic deer running around Point Reyes National Seashore. In response to the overload of fallow deer (Cervus dama) and axis deer (C. axis), the NPS has developed a management plan to reduce populations, with options ranging from sterilization vaccines to sanctioned hunting (Actually, according to the draft version, which you can read here, they seem to have come up with 5 plans, but really they hope to proceed with "Alternative E," which would eradicate the deer from the park by the year 2020). Turns out park rangers had been culling the deer for years by shooting them, but that program stopped due to public "discomfort" with the idea. Be sure to check out the full article to hear how PETA weighed in, see photos of the (adorable) deer in question, and vote for your favorite culling method!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Might as Well be Walking on the Shells

The Olympian is reporting that officials in the city of Olympia, Washington are hoping to get grant funding for a program to grind up the shells of invasive snails and use the paste as a fill for local sidewalks. They think the curved shells will be an excellent alternative to the rocks and gravel typically laid down under sidewalk pavement to hold stormwater runoff. Perhaps you're wondering, what invasive snails does Olympia have in such numbers that they could attempt a project like this? The article doesn't say. Neither do these Olympia City Council minutes (.pdf). Lucky for you, the ISW has gone the extra mile to uncover this information, and with a little help from bugmenot, found the answer in this King5 article. The snail in question is actually the Atlantic slipper snail (Crepidula fornicata), also known as the slipper limpet, a species native to the east coast of the U.S.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My Fellow Astronauts

NASA is reporting that, well, NASA has joined the National Invasive Species Council, making it the 13th federal agency to participate in the advisory group. Among the valuable things NASA brings to the table are expertise in remote sensing, knowledge of mapping techniques and predictive modeling of systems.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Should They Kill It, or Give it Protection?

The LSU AgCenter is reporting that a new pest has been destroying Louisiana rice fields since at least 2004. Problem is, it hasn't been identified, and as of yet it is unclear whether this is an invasive pest or a never-before-seen species. The pest in question is a tiny fly, known only as a rice whorl maggot (apparently not the same as other species given the same common name). In the coming months researchers will be studying the effects of the fly in the hopes of determining early warning signs of infestation, and finding effective pesticides.