Thursday, March 31, 2005

Frog Calling

Officials in Guam are so determined to stop the coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) from invading their island, they've set up a hotline for people to call if they think they've found one of the Puerto Rican natives. As reported by the Pacific Daily News, GUAMCELL Communications has donated a cell phone and free minutes to the Guam Department of Agriculture to facilitate the project. They're even offering Guam residents the opportunity to download ringtones of the frog's call. Hope that doesn't end up causing concerned residents to head off on a lot of wild good chases!

Bonus points to GUAMCELL for adding a cute hopping frog to their front page.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Carp Baggers

Austin has grabbed the carp by the whiskers, so to speak, according to this story from The Daily Texan. Last weekend they held a big carp-fishing tournament that attracted anglers from across the country, and even declared it Carp Anglers' Days. The Town Lake tourney was strictly catch-and-release, and the fish caught had to be common carp (Cyprinus carpio) - no points for grabbing one of the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) that were introduced to the lake to control hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Oh GAO! Book I

Last month the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with a 100-page report titled "INVASIVE SPECIES - Cooperation and Coordination Are Important for Effective Management of Invasive Weeds" (.pdf). In it, you'll find a survey of stakeholders, state-level case studies, and obvious statements like "lack of consistent and adequate funding limits effective weed management." Most interesting, at least to me, is Appendix II, which includes a comparison of each state's definition of what a "noxious weed" is. While the boundary between "noxious" and "invasive" continues to blur, only 5 of the 26 states with statutes defining noxious weeds specifically consider environmental harm when designating a species.

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

Monday, March 28, 2005

Dog Days of Winter

dog and knotweed

Before all the snow is gone here in Massachusetts, I wanted to post this photo of my friend's weimaraner, Sophie, tearing apart a stand of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) in her yard. And I didn't even have to ask her to do it :-).

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Basser - for all Your Dekkai Bass Needs!

Interesting article from Forbes about the bass fishing counterculture in Japan. Sport fishing for largemouth bass (Micropterus sp.) is actually frowned upon, and bass anglers are considered to be rude and disruptive to Japanese life. While concern has grown about the American fish harming native Japanese species, champions like Aki Hide and Takahiro Omori have ridden the bass path to fame. There are even Japanese magazines like Basser and Crazy Bass devoted to the "dark fishing" craze.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tunicate Trio

Prince Edward Island now has not one, but three different tunicate species to deal with in Savage Harbour. According to this report from CBC News, the three tunicates (clubbed [Styela clava], green star and violet [Botrylloides violaceus]) are impacting the mussel industry because the slimy marine creatures form coverings over the mussels that have to be removed before the bivalves can be sold. Mussels Marinara, anyone? :-)

Friday, March 25, 2005

So FAO, So Good

The FAO Newsroom has this press release about the Food and Agriculture Organization's new website devoted to issues surrounding invasive species in African forests. The site is meant to be the home page for FISNA, the Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa. It contains a wide range of invasive species information, from profiles of invasive woody plants and forest pathogens to a contact list of experts from several countries. There are also posts about upcoming invasive species-related events and links to relevant FAO publications. While there are only 7 countries currently involved in FISNA, all of Sub-Saharan Africa is invited to join.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


The Orlando Sentinel has this report about the introduction of the South American sucker fish (Hypostomus plecostomus sp.) into Florida rivers. Plecos are popular aquarium fish, "employed" to scour the glass and gravel and keep it clear of algae. Enough have been intentionally or accidentally released that they are being netting by the thousands out of swimming areas, and have even been observed "cleaning" manatees.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Search and Almost Destroy

Stuff is reporting that a supposedly destroyed batch of marron (Cherax tenuimanus) at a fish farm in Warkworth, New Zealand may not have been 100% eradicated. The farm was closed down over a decade ago after the Department of Conservation noted the potential of the Aussie crayfish to escape into native waters. Now people are finding marron in the West Auckland area, and officials are thinking the crayfish somehow got out before the farm was closed down. Local kiwis may want to read this press release as well - it includes a phone number to call if you spot any marrons in your path. Both stories also mention the recent discovery of the gudgeon fish (Gobio gobio) in the same area.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Alga, Heal Thyself

Interesting article over at News-Medical.Net about the amazing wound response of the invasive marine alga Caulerpa taxifolia. If a piece of the alga is damaged, a gelatinous substance covers the wound within seconds. Then any torn fragment is free to start growing again. Scientist Georg Pohnert and his research team have uncovered the chemical pathway of this process.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Acronym Overload

The March issue of the online magazine ICT Update is all about invasive species. The magazine tagline is "A current awareness bulletin for ACP agriculture." For the uninitiated (which included me until about five minutes ago), ICT stands for "Information and Communication Technology" and ACP stands for "African, Caribbean and Pacific." The issue contains interesting articles about water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) control, a Pacific Island pest database, and the war against plant invaders in South Africa.

Thanks to Luigi G. for sending along a link to the magazine.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Knotweed and Tulips

photo of tulips and Japanese knotweed

I like this photo because of the contrast between the tulip (Tulipa sp.), cultivated for centuries and very well-behaved, and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), cultivated for over a century but very unruly indeed. You could try to give it a "time out" in the corner but you know it wouldn't stay there :-). Photo was taken at the UMass Boston now the tulips have shed their petals and the knotweed has long since shaded them out anyway.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wingin' It

The U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service is out with their final list of bird species that are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA became an issue for invasive species management because of lawsuits invoking it to protect birds like the mute swan (Cygnus olor). Get a .pdf of the document here (list is at the end), and more information from the F&WS here.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Pork Tenderloin, Anyone?

National Geographic News is reporting that feral pigs (Sus scrofa) have gotten the best of Santa Cruz Island...almost. The California isle is so overrun with pigs that the Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service have joined forces to come up with a plan to eradicate them. While park managers insist that several native species, including the endangered island grey fox (Urocyon littoralis), are threatened by the feral pigs, animal rights group CHIAPA claims that the pigs are actually a benefit to the island's ecosystem.

Thanks to Val C. for sending in the link to this story. Bonus points to National Geographic for using scientific names in their report.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mega Mollusks

ABC News is reporting that the channeled apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata), already invading Texas and Florida, has now been found in Georgia. To put this into perspective, you should take a look at this photo. Yes, these South American snails can grow as big as baseballs. Yikes!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Would you like to take a survey?

It has been about a year and a half since the ISW first reported on the multicolor Asian ladybug (Harmonia axyridis) invasion in the UK. Now BBC News is reporting that a group of scientists is putting together a nationwide survey, and they're asking all Brits to help out. Two websites have been set up to collect data, starting this April: for the Asian lady beetles, and for all other lady beetle species.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Totally Tubular

A type of Australian tube worm (Ficopomatus enigmaticus) has invaded California's Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, according to this report from the Monterey County Herald. The worms are creating new reefs in the estuary, blocking pipes, and filtering nutrients out of the water. The habitat in the estuary is typically muddy, so the hard substrate created by the tubeworms is welcome new turf...for more non-native species.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Birds on Film

A while back there was an ISW post about the flock of wild parrots on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, CA. It looks like the movie based on the story is finally making the rounds, and getting excellent reviews, including this one from the Washington Times. The main website for the movie, book and man behind it all is here.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Cat Man Don't

The man who is sponsoring the drive to get cat-hunting legislation introduced to Wisconsin (see ISW post) has been getting death threats from enraged cat lovers, according to this article from the La Crosse Tribune. There are no suspects as of yet, but I think we all know who's behind this.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

En Mass

The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group is out with an updated list of invasive plant species. The original list had 38 species - the updated version has 66, and now lists such perennial favorites (hee hee :-)) as kudzu (Pueraria montana), burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). An interesting and informative addendum to the list is a list of species that were evaluated but not determined to be invasive. It's good (but rare) to see that kind of data included in a large-scale invasives risk assessment. For those of you that recognize many of your own "perennial favorites," the New England Wildflower Society offers a document called "Alternatives to Invasive Species."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tangled Bank logo

A new edition of the Tangled Bank has arrived today, hosted at Living the Scientific Life. It features not one, but two posts about invasive species (and only one of them is mine). Check out even more Tangled Bank goodness here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Remote Control

Interesting article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer (and a few dozen other places) about a recent study of remote sensing technologies from the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University. The research, soon to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved identifying invasive plants in Hawaii by flying over sites and recording remote sensing data. Flyovers to ID species are not in themselves a novel concept. What makes this study interesting is that the sensing equipment was recording the nitrogen and water content of the plants. The distinct signature given off by the fire tree Myrica faya, for example, makes them easy to identify. This type of reconnaissance can be implemented a lot earlier in the invasion process than identification by visual characteristics. You can read the original news release here.

Monday, March 07, 2005

A Conundrum of Sorts

Senator Pete Domenici wants the federal government to hold off on protecting the Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) living near the Rio Grande, but not for the nature-hating reasons you might expect. According to this story from The Albuquerque Tribune, the New Mexico Senator is actually worried that protecting the bird's habitat will stymie efforts to remove invasive plants along the Rio Grande. Part of the problem is that the flycatcher, a federally listed endangered species, sometimes makes its nest in invasive "baddies" like Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and salt cedar (Tamarix spp.). The Senator is hoping U.S. Fish & Wildlife will instead focus resources on increasing flycatcher populations through breeding, giving New Mexico a chance to deal with the invading trees and shrubs.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Wow...some gun-toting folks in Wisconsin are thinking about making it legal to hunt and shoot feral cats (Felis silvestris), as reported by The Wisconsin Journal. The state's Conservation Congress is expected to take public votes under advisement this spring. This is far from becoming a law, though, since the Conservation Congress only makes recommendations to the state Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Legislature about issues they think are important. Actual legislation has yet to be introduced.

Thanks to Hot Links for the heads up. The Feral Cat Blog also reports excellently on the whole crazy mess. Interested readers may also want to check out this ISW post about bounty-hunting in Australia.

Update: Special bonus points to any news source that runs the story along with a cute kitty pic. So far: 9 News, KARE 11, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Snake Alert

Hawaii is on alert again for the second time in seven months after a resident of the state's Big Island thought he spotted a brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis). Traps have been set around the area in Kona Palisades in hopes of catching the snake and confirming ID. Read about previous (and unsuccessful) brown tree snake hunting efforts in Hawaii here and here.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Rodent Spill

Interesting article from the Anchorage Daily News, describing the rapid response activities that occur when a ship runs aground near the Alaskan coast. You're probably thinking "oil spill" but it turns out there are a lot of people just as concerned about a ship harboring Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) that could swim to shore. The port of Anchorage has been fending off rat invasions for a long time - read this ISW post from 2003 for more information.

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

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Help from the Internets

MSNBC recently posted an interesting article about how scientists are using the spread of computer worms to model how aquatic invasive species will spread. The study, which was just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, focused on predicting spread the of the spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus) throughout bodies of water in the Ontario region. View the full text of the journal article here!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Map Maker Map Maker, Make me a Map (OK, you're a map! :-)) is an amazing resource. It is stocked to the brim with US maps displaying everything from political boundaries to annual precipitation to, yes, invasive species. The interactive Map Maker application lets you view distribution data for a variety of invasives, and even lets you play around with overlaying different maps. I think I see a correlation between purple loosestrife distribution and toxic releases...just kidding.

Thanks to Zelda at Mute Complications for sending in this excellent link.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Toad in a Jar

How great is this photo of a cane toad (Bufo marinus)? It goes along with this article from Reuters, about Project Island Ark, a program to encourage endangered animals to breed by releasing them on Australia's cane toad-free islands.