Thursday, November 30, 2006

Go Ogle Calendar!

2007 Invasive Species Wall Calendar

Invasive Species Wall Calendars are back! They feature twelve months of North American invaders in glorious full color, from Purple Loosestrife to the Asian Shore Crab. Get yours today, or make your purchase by Dec. 3th to get 20% off from CafePress. All profits from the Invasive Species Weblog store go to charity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sweet Charity: Update

Last week I posted a request for places to make charitable donations where the money can be targeted at invasive-species projects. Your response was underwhelming! :-) My search efforts have come up short as well. GreenmanTim suggested contacting the Land Trust Alliance to get a list of local members that are doing invasive species work. Not a bad idea for those of you that are interested.

A recent post on the ALIENS-L listserver by Sandy L., pointing to a new children's book about weeds, gave me an idea: why not purchase invasive species-related books and donate them to libraries? A short list of possible choices:

Have other suggestions?

Greenman Tim has made another good suggestion: Support your local invasive species council, working group, or organization. Here are a few that I know of that encourage donations:

  • Cal-IPC - California Invasive Plant Council
  • IPC NY - The Invasive Plant Council of New York State
  • MA-EPPC - Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council
  • IPAW - Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin
  • Salem Sound Coastwatch - Donate $20 to get a set of laminated marine invasive ID cards

    As usual, it looks like the invasive plant people are ahead of the pack. Feel free to send in additions to the list!

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Invasive Species Are Sexy?

    I admit it, I was a little concerned when I noticed a site called linking to the ISW. No worries though - it's all about the flyfishing. Always good to see the angling aficionados taking an interest.

    Update: As an anon commenter points out below, those fly fishers and anglers certainly do care about invasive species issues. Check out this post, this one and this one about the invasive freshwater algae known as Didymo.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Cayman Daemons

    CBS News and others are reporting that efforts to control infestations of the pink hibiscus mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus) in the Cayman Islands have ramped up. Over 60,000 parasitic wasps (Anagyrus kamali) known to control the mealybug have been released on Grand Cayman over the past several weeks. The releases are only part of multi-step management plan implemented by the government, which also includes physical controls, public outreach, and legislative changes to regulate the import and export of infected plant stock. As of today the pink hibiscus mealybug is only known on Grand Cayman - it has yet to be detected on its Sister Islands. Interested readers can find out more about the island management plan in this press release.

    Thanks to Xris over at the Flatbush Gardener for sending in a link to this story.

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Weekend Photoblogging

    Mystery Rodent 1 cropped
    Originally uploaded by Buck!.

    Degus on the run in the UK? Sure looks like it from this photo - documentation of one of three rodents on the run in South Bristol.

    Thanks to Buck! for sharing the photos and the info, and be sure to check out his whole "Mystery Rodent" set.

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    It's Elemental

    Interesting report over at PressZoom about the ability of an invasive moth to bypass its host plant's chemical defenses. The native Colorado wildflower prince's plume (Stanleya pinnata) takes up excess amounts of the element Selenium and stores it, a process called hyperaccumulation. Such high concentrations of Selenium act as inhibitors of herbivory; native caterpillars tend to avoid prince's plume, and enough nibbling on the plant can lead to the insect's death. But researchers found that the introduced diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is not deterred by high Selenium levels, and in fact feeds on prince's plume with no adverse effects. There is even a native, Selenium-tolerant parasitic wasp (Diadegma insulare) that parasitizes the moth. Interested readers may want to check out the abstract for the original research paper.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Did You Do Your Homework?

    The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about the rearing and delivery of a dozen princess trees (Paulownia tomentosa) to replace those removed from Logan Square. Though the species, which is native to China, is considered invasive (keep reading), the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society decided against replacing the dying and diseased specimens with native species, noting that they "were just too important historically and aesthetically." Better yet, a member of the American Paulownia Association disputes the invasiveness of Paulownia in Pennsylvania, saying that fossil records in the Pacific Northwest indicate the species is native, and that "This tree got a bad rap because people didn't do their homework."

    So, students of invasive plants, did you do your homework? I thought so.

    Update: John over at Invasive Notes has a post on this subject that is definitely worth reading.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006


    The APHIS of the USDA announced today that it has expanded the quarantine for ash wood and wood products to cover all of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and part of Michigan. The move is meant to prevent the spread of the destructive emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis) that has invaded those four states. Previous quarantines have been limited to just parts of each state. The USDA notes in the press release that unreliable detection methods mean they do not yet have the tools in place to check and approve shipments outside the quarantine zone.

    Found by way of the ALIENS-L listserver. You can view previous ISW posts about the emerald ash borer by clicking here.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Sweet Charity

    bootstrap analysis had a good post recently about how to make smart charitable donations. This, along with my monthly CafePress check, leads me to ask:

    Does anyone know of reputable organizations in need, where people can donate money that will go directly towards invasive species projects? I am looking for targeted campaigns, not just generic donations to an organization that *might* use it for invasive species management.
    Any suggestions?

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    They're Crumbelievable!

    Keeping with the erosion thread...The World has a feature about Tim Davidson, a graduate student researching an invasive crustacean, Sphaeroma quoianum. It turns out that the tiny creatures are responsible for an increate of the rate of erosion of the shoreline in Coos Bay, Oregon. The isopods, native to Australia and New Zealand, burrow into the mud and chew their way through, breaking up the substrate and causing chunks of the estuary substrate to fall apart. Tim has been studying the distribution and habitat preferences of the crustaceans and has found evidence that they are continuing their spread along the coast of the U.S. For more on his research, check out this poster (.pdf).

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Weekend Photoblogging

    Originally uploaded by urtica.

    A common buckthorn leaf (Rhamnus cathartica), one of the few things to still have any green in it so late in the fall.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Muddy Bunnies is reporting that feral rabbits are responsible for a large landslide on Macquarie Island, killing several royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) and destroying a part of their roosting and nesting habitat. The introduced rabbits, which now number over 100,000, are devouring plant life and stripping the soil bare, leaving no buffer when heavy rains come, and causing massive soil erosion. This is just one of several landslides that have occurred on the island this year. Macquarie Island, a Tasmanian State Reserve located halfway between Antarctica and Australia, is the only place in the entire world where royal penguins breed. More information and good photos over at BBC News.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Great Scots!

    The Scotsman is reporting that Scotland is preparing to make it illegal to release 150 different non-native plant and animal species into the wild. The government is seeking to amend the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to add these species to a short list that is already there, and would also list 21 of them as illegal to sell, own or trade. The Scottish government has produced a consultation report on the subject which is now open for comments. If you want to check out the actual lists of proposed species, you'll have to download the Word doc here. Looks like the lists were compiled by "expert opinions" - more than 400 of them - rather than any type of species risk assessment. It will be interesting to see if every single species makes it to the final version of the list.

    Be sure to scroll down to the end of the Scotsman article, there is a great comment thread going on down there!

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    When did the USDA hire MacGyver?

    The headline of the National Geographic News article says it all: "Alien Beetles Tracked with "Ray Guns," Dental Floss." Hoping to better understand the ways that invasive Asian longhorn beetles (Anoplophora glabripennis) spread, U.S. researchers traveled to China and studied them on their home turf. To track dispersal patterns, the scientists tied tracking tags (transponders) onto the beetles using dental floss, then used a harmonic radar (.pdf, the "ray gun" part) to follow the tags. Turns out the average beetle only moved about 10 feet per day, though the researchers note that this likely increases during breeding season. I wonder whether the dispersal patterns differ in the places where the beetles have been introduced?

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Doctored Fill

    With all the talk about ballast water regulation, why is no one talking about banning contaminated fill? This article in The Post-Star points out one of the big oversights of public works departments across the U.S. (or maybe the world? I'm not sure) - transport of soil contaminated with invasive plants propagules (seeds, rhizomes, bulbs, etc.). In many cases those responsible for the transport just aren't aware of the dangers of doing this, in other cases they may even be unaware of what is in their dirt piles. Luckily for Warren County, New York, their highway departments are getting educated about which invasive plants to look for and how to deal with them when they're discovered. Now what about all those private construction and earth-moving companies? This one website will set you up with a partner whether you want to get rid of fill or receive some, and there are lots of classified ads out there too - is anyone in the U.S. regulating this?

    If you own a conscientious company that deals with soil transport, feel free to chime in here and let us know what it takes to do it right.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    New in the Literature

    It has been way too long since I did one of these...

    Also, be sure to check out the November 2006 issue (v. 94 no. 6) of the Journal of Ecology, featuring an invasive species section with five articles.

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Rapa Movie

    Don't despair if you missed your chance to see Laura Boyd's award-winning film "Caballo Loco on Easter Island" at the 2006 American Conservation Film Festival. The 20-minute short, about Jonathan Arzt's investigation of the poisoning of horses on Easter Island, is available for internet viewing over at the TERRA blog.

    If you want to know the ending, watch the film or read the spoiler below. If you'd like to learn more about the problem on your own, you should check out this interactive educational site from UC Davis that walks you through the investigative process.






    ***Spoiler Space***





    The culprit, as if you couldn't guess by the fact that I am posting this story, was Crotalaria, a plant that was introduced in a failed effort to control soil erosion on the island.

    Thanks to John R. from Don Watcher for suggesting this story.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006


    Arkangel is reporting that animal rights activists have released more than 1500 American mink (Mustela vison) from a fur farm in Spain. This is just one in a series of recent "liberation" projects designed to bring attention to the evils of the fur industry...this Olive Press article describes an incident involving three mink farms where over 15,000 minks were released.

    American mink are now introduced and considered invasive in several parts of Europe, including the areas of Spain where the most recent releases occured. Does the need to have a captive mink "enjoy freedom" really outweigh the threat to native wildlife?

    The article notes that few of the mink left the boundaries of the ranch they were being kept on once they were freed. Maybe somebody already told them - there is nowhere to run, you're on a different island!

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Cycadian Rhythms

    Cycads in Guam are dying, and it may be that Florida is partly to blame. According to this report from the Miami Herald, an insect known as Asian cycad scale (Aulacaspis yasumatsui) that was accidentally introduced to Florida along with non-native cycads has spread to other parts of the world, and now threatens native cycad species in Guam as well as India. Florida recognizes that it will be next to impossible to eradicate the scale insects, and is instead concentrating on managing the problem and preventing their spread via exports. Something to think about next time you're wondering about why the importation of "harmless" non-native species is not necessarily risk-free.

    Triple bonus points to whoever registered for the Miami Herald's bugmenot account using "" ;-D

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Come to Barbados!! No no, not you! published a "Snail Alert" this week, warning the citizens of Barbados that they need to be more vigilant about ridding the island of the giant African land snail (Achatina fulica). A government scientist has spoken out about the snail, noting that if Barbadians leave it up to the Ministry of Agriculture, they could be in for a future of abandoned farmland and rat lung worms (Angiostrongylus cantonensis). While the snails in Barbados have so far been free of the parasitic lung worms, which can attack humans, worm infested giant African land snails are already known on several Caribbean islands, meaning the arrival of this secondary hitchhiker is likely unavoidable.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Weekend Photoblogging

    a surprised orange toad
    Originally uploaded by fuzzy blue.

    Excellent nighttime shot of a cane toad (Bufo marinus) on the island of Maui, one of many in the grass that evening.

    Shared very generously by fuzzy blue under a Creative Commons license.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    More Fishy Musings

    Did anyone catch the "black market fish" subplot on this week's 30 Rock? Tracy Morgan's character has Kenneth the Page go get him an illegal fish from a seedy location in New York City (graffiti-covered alleyway, back entrance, unseen seller with chatter sounding vaguely Asian in the background). Pretty sure that was a lionfish (Pterois volitans) or a related species, not banned to my knowledge but of certain newfound notoriety due to its escape into the wild. Kenneth hands the bag over to Tracy who promptly dumps his prized possession into a tank of freshwater goldfish. Hee.

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Koi Blog Wondering

    Back in July the ISW posted about a restaurant owner who was in trouble for keeping koi (Cyprinus carpio) in a tank in his place of business (Maine banned the possession of koi several years ago). Cuong Ly appealed the confiscation of his koi, and now this story in the Morning Sentinel says that he can keep the fish, but only if he 1) keeps them at home or hides them from public view 2) implants microchips in them so that Maine Wardens can always verify that he is not secretly buying new fish to replace the old ones and 3) notifies the state within 24 hours after any one of the koi dies.

    The fact that the state will let Ly keep the fish but not put them on public display makes it seem like the issue is about more than just keeping koi out of Maine's waterways. I can't see how that part of the decision makes any sense, since one of the reasons Ly had the fish in his restaurant was for public viewing. I agree with one commenter who suggests that Ly be allowed to keep the koi in their old home but with a sign or the permit clearly displayed (how about some free public outreach pamphlets?).

    Ly can file another appeal but hasn't decided yet if he will pursue the issue further.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Last Chance To Carp

    If you care about whether silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and largescale silver carp (H. harmandi) are banned in the United States, you've got until this Monday, Nov. 6th, to tell someone about it. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently sent out an email alert saying that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has once again proposed adding new carp species to the list of injurious species banned from interstate transport under the Lacey Act. The UCS notes that silver carp have twice before come up for consideration for this ban, and they are hoping that hearing from scientists well-educated on the subject will help sway the FWS this time around (uh, well...).

    Update: Thanks to robyn for pointing to the U.S. Draft Asian Carp Management and Control Plan. Comments are welcome on the plant through December 26th.

    I've pasted the UCS email below:

    Tell US Fish and Wildlife Service to Ban Two Asian Carp Species

    ISSUE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposes to ban further imports and interstate shipments of silver carp and largescale silver carp by adding them to the list of "injurious animals" whose movement is restricted by the Lacey Act. It is collecting comments and information now.

    ACTION: Submit comments, adding at least a brief section that customizes it to your own expertise and experience.

    MAIN MESSAGE: Silver carp and largescale silver carp pose an unacceptable risk to native fish, mussels, and other wildlife; to critical habitat; and to the structure of aquatic communities. The FWS should immediately ban further import and interstate movement of all live forms of these fish.

    DEADLINE: Comments must be submitted on or before November 6, 2006. Email, fax, and mail directions are below.

    *** THE ISSUE ***

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to ban the import and interstate transport of all forms of silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and largescale silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys harmandi), plus each of their various hybrids. By listing these species as "injurious" under the Lacey Act, no live animal, gamete, viable egg, or hybrid could be imported or moved between states, except in limited circumstances and with a permit. (States regulate intra-state movements of fish so silver carp already within state boundaries would not be affected.)

    This listing has been considered for several years. In 2002, twenty-five members of Congress' Great Lakes Task Force petitioned the FWS to list three species of Asian carp, including silver carp. A larger group repeated this request in 2004, asking for a decision "soon." The proposed rule is FWS' response.

    Silver and largescale silver carp are relatives of several other invasive Asian carp: the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), which escaped from holding ponds in 1963 and has since become established in 46 US states; bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), which was first found in the wild in the 1980's, continued to escape from aquaculture facilities in the 1990's, and is now the most common large fish in the lower Missouri River; and black carp, which has been captured in the wild since 2003 and, with its specialized diet of freshwater mussels, is a significant threat to this group, which is among the most imperiled of US species.

    Silver carp, native to eastern Asia, were imported into the United States in the early 1970s, probably to control algae in sewage lagoons or commercial aquaculture ponds. Soon thereafter, fish had escaped and also been moved to new locations. Now silver carp have been collected throughout the Mississippi River Basin, in 16 states, and Puerto Rico. They continue to spread. Also, a number of means exist to move these fish to river systems and lakes where they do not now exist, e.g., as baitfish and via live food markets. Biologists are concerned that these carp will compete with native species for food and habitat; carry serious diseases to native species; affect water quality; damage boats and equipment; hurt boaters; and have other negative impacts. Silver carp are large (up to 1.2 m. and 50 kg), long-lived, with high fecundity.

    Largescale silver carp are similar, and also native to eastern Asia. This species is not known to be in the United States yet and, because of its narrower biological tolerance, it may not become established except in subtropical and tropical areas of Florida, Hawaii, and Texas. In these places, its impacts could be like those of silver carp. However, largescale silver carp hybridize with silver and bighead carp and hybrids tolerate temperate regions.

    FWS' slowness in responding to the 2002 congressional petition prompted a bipartisan group of Great Lakes' lawmakers to introduce legislation in 2005. The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (S. 1402 and H.R.3049) would bypass FWS' administrative procedures and add these and other carp species to the Lacey Act immediately. These bills are unlikely to pass in the little time remaining in the current Congress; we do not know if they will be reintroduced in 2007.

    Generally, UCS prefers that federal agencies promptly make the scientifically-based regulatory decisions for which they have authority. However, FWS has added only several new groups to the Lacey Act in the past decade. We would like Congress to play its own role: passing broad, comprehensive, and more stringent invasive species law. However, UCS will work with Congress to ban Asian carp if FWS fails to act. Before we do that, though, we want to see whether FWS can be swayed by a strong set of scientists' comments. Failure to act quickly in the face of strong scientist support would provide more evidence that "dirty lists" of banned species are no basis for sound federal invasive species policy.

    *** THE ACTION ***

    -- With minimal time, you can send the main message and a couple sentences about your interest and expertise.

    -- With somewhat more time, you also can describe your experience with invasive species and add the supplemental messages, in your own words.

    -- With a larger investment of time, you can address one of more or the questions below, too.

    The FWS has asked for answers to the following questions. (For more detail, see Federal Register, below.) The connection between the proposed regulations and these questions is not self-evident and FWS has not responded to UCS' request for clarification. The agency has already received a risk assessment from federal scientists (Kolar, et al. 2005) and completed its own environmental assessments (USFWS 2006a,b). Each documents that these species are "injurious" and high risk. Nevertheless, if you have access to state information, including an answer to one or more questions will ensure that your comments are among those most seriously weighed.

    1) What regulations does your state have on these two species? [see Table 10 and pages 117-121 in Kolar, et al., 2005] 2) How many silver carp are present? 3) What would eradication cost? [see pages 14-117 in Kolar, et al., 2005, re lack of options] 4) What are recovery costs for native fish? What state-listed species could by harmed? 5) What is the economic value of commercial fisheries that could be harmed? 6) How many fishermen sell live silver carp? 7) What are annuals sales and landings of silver carp? 8) What is the consumer surplus or revenue from native or higher-value fish? [See US Census Bureau, 2002, for your state.] 9) What is the value of the baitfish industry?

    -- MAIN MESSAGE: Silver carp and largescale silver carp pose an unacceptable risk to native fish, mussels, and other wildlife; to critical habitat; and to the structure of aquatic communities. The FWS should immediately ban further imports and interstate movement of all live forms of these fish.

    -- TIMING: Comments must be submitted on or before November 6, 2006


    How to submit comments:

    E-mail: Include "RIN number 1018-AT29" in the subject line of the message.

    Web: Federal eRulemaking Portal:

    Fax: (703) 358-1800.

    Mail: Chief, Branch of Invasive Species U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 322 Arlington, VA 22203

    -- LET US KNOW: Please send us an email message that tells us what action you took. Send to:


    -- The detailed information solicited in this FWS proposal is important and useful. However, the materials already available to FWS have found that these species are "injurious." Lacey Act listing should not be delayed to collect additional information.

    -- According to the FWS' Draft Environmental Assessment, as many as 65 of the 184 fishes and mussels on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife "would likely be impacted by the introduction and establishment of silver carp." The FWS is responsible for protecting these species, especially ones that inhabit waters where silver carp are not yet present. This responsibility makes Lacey Act listings essential.

    -- Generally, FWS should act more quickly and more often in adding species to the list of injurious fish and wildlife. The Lacey Act is not an effective tool for preventing new invasions when FWS requires more than four years to act. If FWS' listing process cannot be streamlined, the agency should lay out a plan to overhaul its regulations completely, with stronger prevention in mind.


    -- Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 171, Sept. 6, 2006.. Online at: (pdf) USFWS Proposed Rule.

    -- Kolar, C.S., D.C. Chapman, W.R. Courtenay, Jr., C.M. Housel, J.D. Williams, D.P. Jennings. 2005. "Asian Carps of the Genus Hypophthalmichthys (Pisces, Cyprinidae) - A Biological Synopsis and Environmental Risk Assessment," Interagency report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 175 pages. Online at: (pdf) A detailed survey, based on peer-reviewed literature.

    -- Nico, L. 2006. "USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL." Online at: A factsheet on silver carp.

    -- US Census Bureau. 2002. 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Online at: National summary and 50 state reports.

    -- US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006a. "Draft Environmental Assessment for Listing Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) as Injurious Wildlife under the Lacey Act." USFWS/DEQ/BIS. Arlington, VA. USFWS/DEQ/BIS. Arlington, VA. Online at: (pdf)

    -- US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006b. "Draft Environmental Assessment for Listing Largescale Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys harmandi) as Injurious Wildlife under the Lacey Act." USFWS/DEQ/BIS. Arlington, VA. Online at: (pdf)

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006


    Can't believe I missed this Halloween posting opportunity...The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently released a Public Service Announcement warning citizens about the Mexican red rump tarantulas (Brachypelma vagans) that have established in that state. The tarantula, native to Central America and Mexico, was first discovered (.pdf) in St. Lucie County over a decade ago, and is thought to have been introduced via the pet trade.

    You can view the PSA via this page (wmv format). I couldn't get the link to work but the transcript (.pdf) sounds pretty amusing. Interested readers will also want to check out this response to a proposed tarantula ban in Florida, posted on the American Tarantula Society's website.