Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems – Summit County Citizens Voice

GR:  Invasive species are weakening and eliminating ecosystems around the world. In many instances, people introduced the invasives to increase food production for domestic livestock. In other instances, people introduce the invasives to control other invasives. The search for magic bullets such as pesticides, diseases from the original homeland of an invasive, and introduction of more competitive aliens from the homeland continues, but without much success. Many times, the only effective means to eliminate an invasive species is to apply manual labor: catching, pulling, or mowing.

“The Great Lakes have seen successive invasions by non-native species that alter the ecosystem, including quagga mussels that filter the water and remove nutrients. At least partly as a result of the invasive mussels, Lake Michigan is becoming less hospitable to Chinook salmon, according to a new study led by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Michigan State University.

“The scientists concluded that stocking could help sustain a population of Chinook salmon, but that the lake’s ecosystem is now more conducive to stocking lake trout and steelhead salmon. These two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels.

“Findings from our study can help managers determine the most viable ways to enhance valuable recreational fisheries in Lake Michigan, especially when the open waters of the lake are declining in productivity,” said Yu-Chun Kao, an MSU post-doctoral scientist and the lead author of the report.” –Summit County Citizens Voice (Continue: Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems – Summit County Citizens Voice).

Plastic-eating bugs? It’s a great story – but there’s a sting in the tail

GR: People have often tried to import species to solve problems or increase productivity. Many times, unintended consequences have proven disastrous as the imported species spread beyond the objective and replaced local plants and animals. [Here’s an example from my research.] The story below gives another example for a current problem.

You’d need an awful lot of Wax Moth caterpillars to make a significant dent on the plastic waste problem. The UK alone discards almost 2m tonnes of the stuff every year.’ Photograph: Federica Bertocchini/Paolo Bombe/PA

“Caterpillars that can munch up plastic bags have just been identified, fuelling excited speculation that this could one day eliminate global pollution from plastic waste. The chance discovery, initially made by a scientist and amateur beekeeper whose plastic bag had been eaten through by the moth caterpillars, was reported this week by researchers at Cambridge University and the Spanish National Research Council.

“How thoughtful of nature to provide bugs that eat our rubbish. Is this the end of landfill, turtles with plastic-congested stomachs, and trees adorned with tattered ribbons of shopping bags?

“Well, it’s never that simple, is it? Attempts to commandeer nature to do our dirty work never seem to turn out as hoped, whether these take the form of planting trees to soak up carbon dioxide, or introducing invasive species for pest control, or using microorganisms to clean up oil spills. Remember the Australian cane toad debacle? The toads were introduced in the 1930s to control crop pests but instead gorged themselves on other local wildlife and spread across the country.

“These creatures, the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella), can devour polyethylene, which along with the closely related polypropylene is the main type of plastic found in waste. But you’d need an awful lot of them to make a significant dent on the plastic waste problem. The UK alone discards almost 2m tonnes of this stuff every year. At the rate of consumption reported by the researchers – one worm gets through about two milligrams of plastic a day – you’d need billions of caterpillars eating constantly all year round to deal with that.

“Quite aside from how and where you’d farm all these bugs, there’s something about them that news reports have failed to mention. Wax moths, which are found throughout the world, are so-called because they eat wax. Specifically, they love to eat the wax from which bees make their honeycombs – and so they can devastate bee colonies. The two common species of wax moth, of which Galleria mellonella is one, are thought to cause more than £4m worth of damage annually in the United States alone.” –Philip Ball (Continue: Plastic-eating bugs? It’s a great story – but there’s a sting in the tail | Philip Ball | Opinion | The Guardian)

With bee populations already under severe stress, we might want to think twice about breeding one of their common airborne enemies in huge numbers. Photograph: Peter Komka/EPA

 

 

 

Species Introductions Are Accelerating

GR:  Invasive plants and animals are destroying native ecosystems. Some species that we take from their homes and release in other regions explode across the new habitat. Free from their natural competitors and diseases, the species are like Superman freed from Krypton’s light. Local species cannot compete and are replaced.  I’ve studied some of the plant species that do this. You can read what I’ve learned here.

My work focuses on invasive plants, but animals can be equally destructive. The Eurasian Wild Boar is a good example of the hundreds of species impacting North American ecosystems. Here’s a brief review of the history of its introduction and spread in the U. S.

Feral Eurasian Wild Boar

Feral Eurasian Wild Boar

Invasive species are second only to complete habitat destruction by roads and buildings as destroyers of nature. Global warming will take their place over the next few decades, but that doesn’t mean that we can ignore invasives. Protecting nature requires that we tend to all our destructive behaviors. My articles include suggestions and references to other resources for invasive plant control.

The article below from the National Geographic Society Blog reports that the invasive species problem is growing. Humans really began spreading species 500 years ago when they began crossing the oceans. It surprises me that we’ve left anything behind, but apparently we left enough invasive species behind to continue and even accelerate this form of the human impact.

“A study released this month has illustrated that the rate of species introductions to locations outside their native range is increasing faster than ever. Hanno Seebens and many others used the date of first records of introductions to plot the total number of new non-native species records every year since 1500. They show that this is not only increasing, but accelerating, with no signs of saturation. The increase was particularly marked since the 1800s. This global exchange of species is not good news, as although it increases species richness at the regional scale, globally the species richness of our planet declines as species go extinct.

Global temporal trends in first record rates (dots) for all species (a) and taxonomic groups (b–q) (Source: Nature Communications)

“New Zealand was singled out as one country whose trend was negative compared to the rest of the world. As any traveller to New Zealand will have encountered, the biosecurity importation laws and policing are rigorous and every passenger is screened. In tandem with a ‘white-list’, where only certain non-native species are automatically permitted entry, and all others must be assessed, has clearly assisted in protecting New Zealand’s biodiversity and primary industries from the global trend in accelerating species introductions.” –James Russell (Continue reading:  Species Introductions Accelerating – National Geographic Society (blogs).)

Behind New Zealand’s wild plan to purge all pests

Invasive Species

GR:  After 1500 AD, sailing ships and then later on, motor-powered ships began transporting and introducing plant and animal species all over the globe. Freed from the predators and diseases of their homes, some of the introduced species became invasive–that is, they began spreading, replacing native species, and decreasing ecosystem stability and productive. This is not news, of course, biologists have long been aware of the devastation caused by invasive species.

Eradicating invasive species is very expensive and very difficult. National resolve and full public support are required. Eradication is something that we humans, who are responsible for spreading the invasive species, should be about everywhere.

However, it is essential to place greater focus preventing the initial introduction of non-native species. Prevention is cheaper and kinder than eradication. And again, prevention is not a new idea. Natural resource managers have known how to prevent invasions for the past century. In many instances, they just don’t take the necessary steps. Here are some articles on invasive plants.

New Zealand has one of the worst invasive plant and animal problems in the world. The article below describes an ambitious and necessary plan to do something about it.

New Zealand Eradication Plan

New Zealand has three invasive species of rat. The Pacific rat, or kiore (Rattus exulans), was introduced from Polynesia in about the twelfth century; the ship rat (Rattus rattus) arrived in the late 1700s; and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) became established in the 1860s. All three prey on native birds, insects and lizards, and have been blamed for the decline or extinction of a variety of species.

“Razza the rat nearly ended James Russell’s scientific career. Twelve years ago, as an ecology graduate student, Russell was releasing radio-collared rats on to small islands off the coast of New Zealand to study how the creatures take hold and become invasive. Despite his sworn assurances that released animals would be well monitored and quickly removed, one rat, Razza, evaded capture and swam to a nearby island.

“For 18 weeks, Russell hunted the animal. Frustrated and embarrassed, he fretted about how the disaster would affect his PhD. “I felt rather morose about the prospects for my dissertation,” he says.

“Although there was a lot of literature on controlling large rat populations, little had been written about tracking and killing a single rodent, which turns out to be rather important in efforts to completely eradicate a species. “It demonstrated how hard it is to catch that very first rat as it arrives on an island — or, conversely, the very last rat that you’re trying to get off,” says Russell, now at the University of Auckland.

Brushtail possums are among the numerous invasive pests regularly culled in New Zealand.

“Razza’s escape became the subject of a paper in Nature1 as well as a popular children’s book. And now, with more than a decade of successful pest-eradication projects behind him, Russell is taking on a much bigger challenge. He is coordinating research and development for a programme that the government announced last July to eliminate all invasive vertebrate predators — rats, brushtail possums, stoats and more — from New Zealand by 2050 to protect the country’s rare endemic species.” –Brian Owens (Continue reading:  Behind New Zealand’s wild plan to purge all pests : Nature News & Comment)

At the nexus of climate change and invasive species – Summit County Citizens Voice

GR:  Until recently, naturalists said that invasive species introduced intentionally and accidentally by humans were the second most deadly force destroying nature. Construction of roads and towns was first. Most scientists are now saying that global warming will soon be number two. This article explains part of the reason.

“U.S. Geological Survey scientists have completed one of the first experimental studies to explore links between climate change and invasive species, specifically how brook trout and brown trout interact with rising stream temperatures. They found that non-native browns limit the ability of brook trout to use warmer water temperatures, By contrast, removing browns allowed brook trouts’ reach into warmer waters.

“Brookies are freshwater fish native to eastern North America and threatened by climate change because of their requirement for cold stream temperatures. Brown trout are native to Europe and have been introduced all around North America.

“We know streams are warming due to climate change and non-native species are becoming increasingly abundant in many places,” said Nathaniel Hitt, U. S. Geological Survey research fish biologist. “Our research indicates that reducing Brown Trout numbers can benefit native Brook Trout where the species co-occur,” Hitt said. Brown trout management could help brookies be more resilient to anticipated effects of climate change, he added.

Source: At the nexus of climate change and invasive species – Summit County Citizens Voice

The harlequin ladybird is a clever little devil

GR:  This is a good example of the unintended harm caused by human efforts to improve nature for human benefit.  Accidental and intentional introductions of plants and animals from one continent to another releases the plants and animals from their native predators and diseases. If they multiply, they can replace whole ecosystems and cause drastic reductions in biodiversity and productivity. After the immediate effects of habitat loss to construction, human-introduced invasive species are the most significant contemporary destructor of nature. As global warming effects grow, surviving humans will probably share the Earth with these species.

“Tricked out in Halloween orange and black, a harlequin moves awkwardly through a micro woodland of moss on the concrete as if it were wandering through an alien world, which in some respects it is. This is Harmonia axyridis succinea, a beetle that began its global travels somewhere in eastern Asia between Kazakhstan and Japan.

“Because its larva has an insatiable appetite for aphids and other small insects it was taken to America in the 1980s for the biological control of crop pests. It was so successful that it has been transported into European agriculture, too. To show its appreciation the beetle, called the Halloween ladybug in the US and the harlequin ladybird in Europe, has had a population explosion.

“This is such a common story of what happens when commerce controls nature for its own ends that it comes as no surprise that a creature pressed into servitude causes fear on liberation. It arrived here in 2004 and in 10 years spread throughout an area that took grey squirrels a century to colonise.

Harlequin ladybirds declared UK’s fastest invading species

“Described as a “voracious invader” with a frightening appetite for other ladybirds and the eggs of butterflies and moths, the harlequin causes understandable alarm, given the threat it poses to Britain’s beleaguered wildlife. By the time the harlequin arrived here it was far too late to do anything about it.” –Paul Evans (The harlequin ladybird is a clever little devil).

Colorado Parks and Wildlife targets illegally stocked pike in Green Mountain Reservoir with a bounty for anglers | Summit County Citizens Voice

Non-native predators could threaten endangered species in Colorado River.

Colorado wildlife managers will try to curb expansion of non-native northern pike in Summit County’s Green Mountain Reservoir by paying anglers a $20 bounty for each fish they deliver to the Heeney Marina.

The illegally introduced fish are taking a toll on trout in the reservoir north of Silverthorne and could escape to the Blue River and make their way to the Colorado River. That could add to the challenges of trying to recover four endangered native Colorado River fish species, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife targets illegally stocked pike in Green Mountain Reservoir with a bounty for anglers | Summit County Citizens Voice

Feds outline plan to curb invasive species

“Early detection and response, partnerships across jurisdictions seen as critical measures

“The spread of invasive species has been identified as the second-leading cause of extinctions among all plants and animals worldwide — and the problem is getting worse in the era of global trade. Just a few months ago, scientists warned that North American amphibians are at risk from an invasive fungus. White-nose syndrome, which has wiped out millions of bats, may have also spread to the U.S. from Europe.

“Federal officials now say they have a plan to try and curb the proliferation of invasive species by focusing on early detection and swift response. The measures are outlined in a report released by the Interior Department: Safeguarding America’s Lands and Waters from Invasive Species: A National Framework for Early Detection and Rapid Response.

“Invasive species pose one of the most significant ecological threats to America’s lands and waters,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristen J. Sarri. “Early detection and rapid response actions can reduce the long-term costs, economic burden, and ecological harm that they have on communities. Strong partnerships and a shared commitment to preventing the spread of invasive species can lay the foundation for more effective and cost-efficient strategies to stop their spread.”  From: summitcountyvoice.com

GR:  Though the invasive-species threat is real and much damage has already been done, the U. S. land management agencies do very little to control the problem.  Every few years, the agencies repeat the ideas covered in this post and then don’t act.  In fact, the USDI already has policy guidance on the books that include Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR), and it has plans drawn up for weed control in specific areas.  However, it never implements the plans.  The problem is that true invasive-species management would require changes in the way the land is used.

Land-use changes required for effective invasive species control would be expensive, but more importantly, they would lower the profits of the mining, logging, and grazing industries using the land.  Because the U. S. government is more concerned with corporate profits than with sustaining the land, executive, legislative, or judicial action blocks attempts by agencies to perform effective invasive species control.  The same shameful behavior occurs in every government on Earth.  Thus, we are not surprised to learn that the spread of invasive species and many other destructive human practices are eliminating forests, wild animals, and the crucial top layer of soil.

These are not new problems, people have commented on them for thousands of years.  As the human impact has grown, the comments have grown more detailed.  Alexander Humboldt, for instance, after touring South America in the first years of the 18th Century, wrote extensively about the abuse of the land for the sake of profit.

Casualties of the Vanishing West

GR:  Wild horses compete with deer, antelope, and other wildlife. They also compete with cattle, the principal occupant of the western ranges. It is sometimes difficult to manage the invasive species that we’ve introduced over the past 600 years. It is especially difficult when we eliminate potential predators. As things stand, it is impossible to say whether wild horses might merge with native animals/ecosystems if we removed the cattle and allowed wolves and lions to return. I for one would really like to try it.

Exposing the Big Game

Sunday, 27 December 2015
Written by
Sonia Luokkala

By Sonia Luokkala, Earth Island Journal

Chief, a Kiger mustang born in the remote wilderness of Utah, lives with 400 other rescued wild horses and burros in a 1,500 acre sanctuary, hundreds of miles from his original home. Years ago the stallion was captured in a round up led by the Bureau of Land Management. After a long helicopter chase, he ended up in a government-run holding facility for years before being adopted by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. Not all horses rounded up by the BLM are as lucky.

Over the past four decades the BLM has eradicated or moved to holding facilities more than 70 percent of the country’s wild horse population.Over the past four decades the BLM has eradicated or moved to holding facilities more than 70 percent of the country’s wild horse population. (Photo: Bureau of Land Management – Utah)

The majority of captured equines remain stuck for years, if not for the rest of their lives, in cramped holding facilities…

View original post 140 more words

Introduced species and biodiversity

https://www.youtube.com/v/wRgJ-IexHKk?fs=1&hl=fr_FR

Great animation from the California Academy of Sciences about Introduced or exotic species, how and when they become also invasive, and the problems … Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com

GR:  This is one of three excellent presentations.  I highly recommend them to anyone who wishes to learn more or teach more about these critical subjects. I once believed that invasive species would wreck Earth’s ecosystems before global warming became a serious force.  The effects of global warming are coming faster than expected, however, and I now believe that stopping our CO2 emissions is our number one priority, a little ahead of reducing our population, preventing invasive species introductions, and so forth.