Wednesday, July 30, 2008

All Your Database Are Belong To Us

The Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN) just published a massive list of online databases related to non-native/invasive species. The list, covering all parts of the globe, currently contains over 250 entries, from the Marine Alien Species of Estonia to the Delaware Invasive Species Tracking System. If you feel like going meta and exploring the list of lists, you can also grab it in Word doc and plain text flavors.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


The Marine Invasions Research Lab is reporting that the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) has now been found in New Jersey, in two locations during the past month. They're also reporting additional new sightings of the crab along the Hudson River in New York. The press release is tucked away on the sidebar of their website as a pdf file, so I'm just going to paste the whole thing in here:

CHINESE MITTEN CRAB ALERT U.S. Atlantic Coast Bays & Rivers

New 2008 Reports: New Jersey & New York

Please Report Any Sightings of This Crab

Mitten Crabs in the Eastern U.S. Live Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) have been found in Chesapeake Bay (2005-2007), Delaware Bay (2007), Hudson River (2007-2008), and most recently in New Jersey (2008). To date, there have been 19 crabs documented and confirmed in the eastern United States, including four states, all in the past four years.

In New Jersey, mitten crabs were found in Toms River (June 1, 2008) and Raritan Bay (June 17, 2008). The Toms River crab is the first confirmed record in the state of New Jersey. The male crab, measuring 50mm, was found crawling on a crab holding pen (peeler pot). The second crab caught in New Jersey was collected by a commercial waterman in the Raritan Bay near Keyport, NJ on June 17, 2008; it has been identified through pictures as an adult mitten crab, sex still unconfirmed. This crab apparently was not the waterman’s first catch, as the species was reportedly observed in the same area at least weekly for the three weeks prior to this catch.

Also in 2008, four other mitten crabs were captured in the Hudson River, New York, including one female (20mm on June 3) and three males (16-26mm from June 9 to July 18). All crabs were caught in freshwater near Tivoli, NY, approximately 100 miles inland along the Hudson River by a research scientist, who was studying eel movement on local tributaries. A total of seven mitten crabs have been confirmed for Hudson River to date.

The Chinese Mitten Crab is native to East Asia, and could have negative ecological and economic impacts. Mitten Crabs are already established invaders in Europe and on the West Coast of the United States. We don’t yet know whether the crab has established reproductive populations in the eastern U.S. The crab is listed as Injurious Wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act, which makes it illegal in the United States to import, export, or conduct interstate commerce of Mitten Crabs without a permit.

Life History. The Chinese Mitten Crab occurs in both freshwater and saltwater. Young crabs spend two-five years in freshwater tributaries and can extend many miles upstream of bays and estuaries. Mature male and female crabs migrate downstream to mate and spawn in saltwater estuaries. Chinese Mitten Crabs burrow into banks and levees along estuaries and are able to leave the water to walk around obstacles while migrating.

Please Report Any New Sightings. To determine the status, abundance, and distribution of this species along the eastern U.S., we have established a Mitten Crab Network. The Network began as a partnership among several state, federal, and research organizations, with an initial focus on Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. We have now expanded the Network to include resource managers, commercial fishermen, research organizations, and citizens along the eastern U.S. Please help by reporting any mitten crabs directly to the Network or to your state resource manager.


  • Commonly found in fresh waters of North America, but can occur in saltwater bays and estuaries
  • Claws equal in size with white tips and appear furry (with thick mats of hair-like covering on claws)
  • If you find a crab, with a carapace length over one inch and no hair on the claws, it is NOT likely to be a Mitten Crab. NOTE: Juveniles under one inch may not have hair on the claws.
  • Carapace up to 4 inches wide; light brown to olive green in color
  • No swimming legs. This crab has eight sharp-tipped walking legs
If you catch a mitten crab
  • Do not throw it back alive!
  • Freeze the animal, keep it on ice, or preserve it in rubbing alcohol as a last resort
  • Note the precise location and date where the animal was found
  • Please take a close-up photo of the animal. Photos can be emailed to SERCMittenCrab AT for preliminary identification. Include your contact information with the photo
  • If you cannot take a photo, contact the Mitten Crab Hotline (443-482-2222)

REMEMBER THE LAW! Never transport a live Mitten Crab across state boundaries

For additional information please visit for updated Mitten Crab reports, downloadable pamphlets on the Chinese Mitten Crab Survey Program, and how to distinguish a Mitten Crab from other crabs

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guinea Pig Revolution

As a nice followup to Sunday's post about feral guinea pigs (Cavia spp.) in Hawaii, Andrew B. sends in this article about feral guinea pigs in New Zealand. This time, a Kiwi couple has claimed responsibility for intentionally releasing the cavies into an island park, calling themselves "Freedom Lovers." Luckily, there were only four guinea pigs released, and they have all been recaptured.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pet Project

The Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that feral guinea pigs (Cavia spp.) are on the run on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu. Yes, that's right, guinea pigs, not hogs! Over the past two months more than 40 of the portly little pets have been caught roaming residential neighborhoods in Nu'uanu. Agriculture officials suspect the feral rodents, also known as "cavies," are the result of an accidental or intentional release by an errant pet owner, and are advising anyone with thoughts of releasing guinea pigs (or any other pets) into the wild to contact their local Humane Society instead.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Not Us?

Back in January 2007, an article in the Denver Post asked an interesting question: Why did the quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis), found in several states in the Northeast USA, seem to skip over Colorado in its spread to the west, and end up in Nevada (in Lake Mead)? Well, ask no more, Denver Post. and others are reporting that the quagga mussel has been discovered for the first time in Colorado, in Lake Granby. The lake is actually a storage reservoir located on the Colorado River, which has already seen quagga mussel incursions via its southern tip...Lake Mead. The quaggas are thought to have arrived in the reservoir via ballast discharge.

Pair this with the discovery of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in Lake Pueblo in late 2007, and Colorado has no need to feel left out any more!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Are You Down With EAB? Yeah, You Know Me...

Looks like the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis, "EAB") is back and making its presence known in Virginia. According to this report at the Fairfax Times, an infestation has been found in Herndon, the first in Fairfax County since an accidental planting of EAB-filled ash trees imported from Maryland back in 2003. There had been no new sightings since then, so it is thought that the eradication that began the year those trees were planted was successful. That points to some other pathway as the source for this latest EAB find. A note from an invasive species listserver indicates there will likely be at least one other confirmed sighting in Fairfax County as well.

Fairfax County officials are asking anyone that sees dying ash trees or signs of the emerald ash borer to contact them at 703-324-5304, TTY 711.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Indy Algy

Back in 2003, the ISW posted about the controversy surrounding PepsiCo's attempts to promote farming of the red marine alga Kappaphycus alvarezii in India. Now, as posted over at Indiannotion, Science Magazine is reporting that the alga has spread from where it is being cultivated, invading Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park in the Bay of Bengal. At this point it remains unclear as to how the alga got there, since both PepsiCo and the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (which had been testing cultivation of the alga) are denying responsibility. While PepsiCo is volunteering funds to monitor and remove the algae from the marine reserve, scientists are concerned it may already be too late.

Interested readers will want to download the original research article from the May 2008 issue of the journal Current Science.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Seaway Of Controversy

There's an editorial in last Tuesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calling for the closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway in order to prevent ocean-bound ships from transporting new invasive species into the Great Lakes. The reasoning behind the idea is that freighters should be banned from the Seaway until the shipping industry can prove that appropriate measures are being taken to avoid introducing ballast invaders to the region. The Journal Sentinel also published an in-depth two part article on the subject last week.

Got an opinion on this? The MJS is looking for letters to the editor on the subject - details are at the end of the editorial.

(Thanks to Tracy C. for psychically pointing me towards this story ;-))