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DocWatch
invasive species
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News stories about "invasive species," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?invasive+species
Related Scary Tags:
ecosystem interrelationships  ~ climate impacts  ~ koyaanisqatsi  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ forests  ~ global warming  ~ unintended consequences  ~ water issues  ~ massive die-off  ~ overfishing  ~ ocean warming  



Fri, Jul 31, 2015
from Los Angeles Times:
As a killer fungus looms, scientists call for a ban on salamander imports
If it makes its way to our shores, a newly discovered fungus from Asia could wipe out large numbers of salamander species and spark a major North American biodiversity crisis, scientists are warning.... "This is an imminent threat, and a place where policy could have a very positive effect," Vance Vredenburg, a biologist at San Francisco State University and a coauthor of the piece in Science, said in a statement. "We actually have a decent chance of preventing a major catastrophe."... "This fungus is much worse," UC Berkeley biology professor David Wake, another of the report's coauthors, said in a statement. "Bsal is an acute infection that just turns them into little masses of slime in three to four days." ...


Eww! Amphebola!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 28, 2014
from Bloomberg:
Kudzu That Ate U.S. South Heads North as Climate Changes
As the climate warms, the vine that ate the U.S. South is starting to gnaw at parts of the North, too. Kudzu, a three-leafed weed first planted in the U.S. more than 100 years ago for the beauty of its purple blossoms, has been spotted in every county in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. It chokes young trees, brings down power lines and infests abandoned homes. Now the plant, which can grow as fast as a foot (30 cm) per day, is creeping northward, wrapping itself around smokestacks in Ohio, overwhelming Illinois backyards and even jumping Lake Erie to establish a beachhead in Ontario, Canada. ...


Sounds like a biofuel source to me.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 14, 2014
from U of VT, via EurekAlert:
Surprising global species shake-up discovered
... But the researchers did discover something changing rapidly: which species were living in the places being studied. Almost 80 percent of the communities the team examined showed substantial changes in species composition, averaging about 10 percent change per decade -- significantly higher than the rate of change predicted by models. In other words, this new report shows that a huge turnover of species in habitats around the globe is under way, resulting in the creation of novel biological communities. "Right under our noses, in the same place that a team might have looked a decade earlier, or even just a year earlier, a new assemblage of plants and animals may be taking hold," Gotelli says. ...


Maybe this proves that Nature will evolve itself out of the crisis humans have created!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 25, 2014
from NPR:
Carp(e) Diem: Kentucky Sends Invasive Fish To China
The invasive Asian carp has now been found in 12 states and in the Great Lakes watershed, gobbling up native fish, jumping aggressively into boats and reproducing like crazy. Researchers have tried various ways to slow the spread of the fish as it prowls other waterways. And, so far, efforts to introduce the big, bony fish to American diners haven't caught on. So now a processing plant in Kentucky is trying the latest method of Asian carp disposal: sending them to China. ...


One man's trash is another man's pleasure.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 12, 2014
from Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Asian carp eggs found in Mississippi just south of Minnesota
More ominous news on the Asian carp invasion front: Asian carp eggs were recently found in the Upper Mississippi River near Lynxville, Wis., about 20 miles south of the Minnesota border. The finding included late-stage embryos nearly ready to hatch. The U.S. Geological Survey collected the samples last year and reported the findings Monday. ...


Our foreign exchange program is flourishing!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 31, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
As people live longer, threats to wildlife increase, study finds
As countries' human life expectancy grows, so do their numbers of invasive and endangered species, according to a new study by University of California, Davis researchers. The researchers examined social, economic and ecological information for 100 countries to determine which factors are most strongly linked to endangered and invasive birds and mammals. Human life expectancy is rarely included in such studies but turned out to be the best predictor of invasions and endangerment in these countries, according to the study published in Ecology and Society. "Increased life expectancy means that people live longer and affect the planet longer; each year is another year of carbon footprint, ecological footprint, use of natural resources, etc. The magnitude of this impact is increased as more people live longer," the authors wrote. ...


Who ya calling an old fart?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Wave of jellyfish shuts down Swedish nuke reactor
It wasn't a tsunami but it had the same effect: A huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world's largest nuclear reactors to shut down -- a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common. Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden had to scramble reactor number three on Sunday after tons of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant's turbines. By Tuesday, the pipes had been cleaned of the jellyfish and engineers were preparing to restart the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, said Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator. ...


If only they could clog coal fired plant smokestacks.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 16, 2013
from Washington Post:
Bats and snakes are the latest victims of mass killers in the wild
...The mass killer of bats under Coleman's microscope, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has a lot in common with Chytridiomycosis, a mass killer of frogs and other amphibians. The culprits resemble a third killer, Ophidiomyces, which kills and disfigures snakes. They are fungi, and they arrived in the United States from overseas with an assist from humans -- through travel and trade. They prefer cold conditions and kill with precision, so efficiently that they're creating a crisis in the wild. The death toll among amphibians, bats and snakes from fungi represents "potential extinction events," said Coleman, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife research biologist... ...


Just because we didn't plan this invasion doesn't mean we're innocent.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 13, 2013
from Salon:
Study shows that 60 percent of plantlife can be saved
In partnership with Duke University and North Carolina State University, Microsoft researchers used computer algorithms to identify the smallest set of regions worldwide that could contain the largest numbers of plant species. The result, they say, is a model showing how putting just 17 percent of the planet's land surface off limits to human contamination could save a huge number of important plant species. ...


Microsoft-Funded Study Shows 60 percent of Operating System Might Be Saved

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 12, 2013
from University of Waterloo:
Tiny Number of Asian Carp Could Be Big Problem for Great Lakes
A tiny number of Asian carp could establish a population of the invasive fish in the Great Lakes, according to new research from the University of Waterloo. Published this week in the Biological Invasions journal, research from Professor Kim Cuddington of the Faculty of Science at Waterloo indicates that the probability of Asian carp establishment soars with the introduction of 20 fish into the Great Lakes, under some conditions....["]... A female can lay well over a million eggs a year, and with no known predators present in the Great Lakes, the Asian carp could dominate the waters and impact fisheries." ...


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 21, 2013
from Durban Mercury:
Alien plant to blame for rhino "pink lips"
The surprise discovery of rhinos with bright pink lips and swollen eyes in northern KwaZulu-Natal has raised alarm bells over the potentially devastating spread of an alien invader plant which can kill cattle and decimate the fields of peasant farmers.... the lips and nostrils of both animals had turned bright pink, while their eyes and eye sockets were "puffed up like Popeye" -- apparently from eating an invader plant known in Ethiopia as "famine weed". ...


Sounds like they might need rhinoplasty.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 21, 2013
from AP, via HuffingtonPost:
Asian Carp Spawning Areas Are More Varied Than Previously Thought: Study
Asian carp are reproducing in more places and under more varied conditions than experts had believed they could, yet another reason to worry about the greedy invader's potential to infest waterways and crowd out native species, scientists said Tuesday. Several varieties of carp imported from Asia have migrated steadily northward in the Mississippi River and its tributaries since escaping from Southern fish farms and sewage treatment ponds in the 1970s. They've been spotted in more than two dozen states. Bighead and silver carp gobble enormous volumes of plankton, a crucial link in the aquatic food chain, while silver carp sometimes collide with boaters by hurtling from the water when startled. ...


Carp diem!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 25, 2013
from RT.com:
Fukushima debris hits Hawaii
Debris set adrift by the 2011 Japanese tsunami has made its way to Hawaii, triggering concerns over the unknown effects of the radiation it may carry from the meltdown of the Fukushima reactor. Debris has washed ashore the islands of Oahu and Kauai and the state's Department of Health has been asked to test some of the incoming material for radiation levels. Refrigerator parts, oyster buoys, housing insulation, storage bins, soda bottles, toys, fishing nets, plastic trash cans and even Japanese net boats have all washed up on Hawaiian sands in the past few weeks, triggering serious environmental concerns over both water pollution and radiation exposure.... Aside from the unknown radiation risks, some of the debris is bringing invasive species to Hawaii, thereby threatening the island chain's ecosystem and introducing the possibility of consuming contaminated seafood. The 24-foot boat found by the fisherman was covered in blue mussels, which are native to Japan and harmful to Hawaii's marine life - especially the corals. ...


It's cool when you can dumpster-dive right into the ocean! In Hawai'i!!

ApocaDoc
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Try reading our book FREE online:
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More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from University of Wisconsin-Madison:
As Climate Warms, Bark Beetles March On High-Elevation Forests
Trees and the insects that eat them wage constant war. Insects burrow and munch; trees deploy lethal and disruptive defenses in the form of chemicals. But in a warming world, where temperatures and seasonal change are in flux, the tide of battle may be shifting in some insects' favor, according to a new study. ...


Can we all get along?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 4, 2012
from Associated Press:
Judge tosses Asian carp suit; states can amend it
A federal judge Monday threw out a lawsuit filed by five states that want barriers placed in Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, but said he would consider new arguments if the case were filed again ... U.S. District Judge John Tharp ... said he was "mindful of, and alarmed by, the potentially devastating ecological, environmental, and economic consequences that may result from the establishment of an Asian carp population in the Great Lakes." But he said the proper way for the states to win approval of separating the waterways is through Congress. ...


The Asian carp are about to file a filibuster on the Great Lakes.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 27, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
Bitsy beetle warms Canada: study
An army of rice-grain-sized beetles, attracted by warming weather, has moved into Canada's western forests, where its tree massacre is causing the mercury to rise yet further, a study said Sunday. The voracious horde of mountain pine beetles has invaded about 170,000 square kilometres (65,000 square miles) -- a fifth of the forest area of British Columbia, Canada's western-most province, a research team wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience. The beetles lay their eggs under the bark of pine trees, at the same time injecting a fungus that protects their offspring but kills the trees with the help of the larvae eating their insides. As trees are felled, the cooling effect of their transpiration, similar to human sweating, is also lost. ...


A perfect, self-perpetuating loop of total annihilation!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Sep 29, 2012
from GoErie:
Asian carp DNA found in Lake Erie, raising concerns
Tom Fuhrman calls the threat of Asian carp possibly invading the Great Lakes and Lake Erie "the scariest invasive thing we've faced.'' "This is the big one,'' said Fuhrman, president of the Lake Erie Region Conservancy. "If we don't control this, we're in trouble. This will change the whole game.''... Flooding allowed Asian carp to escape into the Mississippi River and move upriver. The invasive species has migrated north into tributaries, like the Illinois River, and toward the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Fuhrman said.... "It's hard to imagine how the native fish species would compete with the carp,'' Fuhrman said. "They're going to be the 800-pound gorilla.'' ...


The answer is easy: genetically engineered freshwater sharks!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 4, 2012
from Discover:
The Pheromone That Could Save Pine Forests From Oblivion
...Until recently there was virtually nothing landowners could do to protect even small parcels of forest from bark beetles. But after a half century of detective work, a small group of scientists has come up with a novel and surprisingly effective means of defense: hijacking the beetles' sense of smell. Like ants and honeybees, beetles communicate via scented chemicals called pheromones, one of which warns the insects to stay away from particular trees. Now researchers are dispersing this pheromone, called verbenone, placing a molecular shield over thousands of acres of hardy green pines in western ski resorts, nature reserves, and campgrounds... ...


The beetles may consider this ... unfair.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from AFP:
The spiralling cost of invasive species
"Invasive species have a huge impact worldwide. In some countries, the cost is astronomical," says Dave Richardson, director of the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at South Africa's University of Stellenbosch.... Invasive species inflict more than $1.4 trillion (1.12 trillion euros) in damage each year, or five percent of global GDP, according to an estimate made 11 years ago.... "It's the globalisation of nature, and we're going to have a hard time stopping it," he said. ...


I was led to believe globalization was a good thing.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
from Planet 3.0:
Top Ten Things Aunt Sally Doesn't Know About Climate and Greenhouse Gases
1) Carbon is forever... 2) The next ice age has already been cancelled.... 3) Bugs, weeds, jellyfish, rats.... 4) CO2 disrupts directly.... 5) Rapid increases of atmospheric CO2 poison the ocean.... 9) Until the moment we get this problem under control and for a few decades to follow climate will get not just hotter but more peculiar and fraught with extraordinary events, some of them disruptive.... 10) Uncertainty cuts both ways.... ...


0.1) The Arctic is warming much faster than everywhere else. 0.2) Methane hydrates are released as arctic waters warm.... 0.3) OMG

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 14, 2012
from University of Florida:
Florida State Record 87 Eggs in Largest Python from Everglades
University of Florida researchers curating a 17-foot-7-inch Burmese python, the largest found in Florida, discovered 87 eggs in the snake, also a state record. Scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus examined the internal anatomy of the 164.5-pound snake on August 10. The animal was brought to the Florida Museum from Everglades National Park as part of a long-term project with the U.S. Department of the Interior to research methods for managing the state's invasive Burmese python problem. Following scientific investigation, the snake will be mounted for exhibition at the museum for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at Everglades National Park. ...


Methinks this python has already been mounted far too many times!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from Texas A&M University:
Antarctica at Risk from Human Activities
The continent of Antarctica is at risk from human activities and other forces, and environmental management is needed to protect the planet's last great wilderness area, says an international team of researchers, including a Texas A&M University oceanographer, in a paper published in the current issue of Science magazine.... Antarctica faces growing threats from global warming, loss of sea ice and landed ice, increased tourism, over-fishing in the region, pollution and invasive species creeping into the area. One of the longer-term concerns that may present the greatest threat overall is the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploitation on the continent and in the surrounding ocean... ...


Why should anywhere on the planet be immune from this virus called humanity?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 2, 2012
from University of Georgia:
Native Species Fight Back: First Evidence of Coevolution Between Invasive, Native Species
Invasive species such as kudzu, privet and garlic mustard can devastate ecosystems, and, until now, scientists had little reason to believe that native plants could mount a successful defense. A new University of Georgia study shows that some native clearweed plants have evolved resistance to invasive garlic mustard plants -- and that the invasive plants appear to be waging a counterattack. The study, published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is thought to provide the first evidence of coevolution between native and invasive plant species. ...


This would make a great, action movie blockbuster.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 1, 2012
from Associated Press:
Flooding disperses invasive plant, fish species
Last year's hurricanes and flooding not only engulfed homes and carried away roads and bridges in hard-hit areas of the country, it dispersed aggressive invasive species as well. In Vermont, the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene and work afterward to dredge rivers and remove debris spread fragments of Japanese knotweed, a plant that threatens to take over flood plains wiped clean by the August storm. The overflowing Missouri and Mississippi rivers last year launched Asian carp into lakes and oxbows where the fish had not been seen before, from Louisiana to the Iowa Great Lakes. Flooding also increased the population along the Missouri River of purple loosestrife, a plant that suppresses native plants and alters wetlands. ...


Hurricanes: the Great Mother of Abundance.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 9, 2012
from New York Times:
New Rules Seek to Prevent Invasive Ballastwater Stowaways
Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.... "They didn't just spread -- they completely colonized the Great Lakes," said Andrew Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office. Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit on the concentration of organisms in the ballast water. ...


Can we make this regulation retroactive?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
from The Sideshow:
Giant, 9-pound Gambian rats invading Florida Keys
When it comes to giant rat infestations, New York gets all the attention. But a breed of giant Gambian rats have been rapidly reproducing in the Florida Keys despite a decade-long effort to wipe them out. KeysNet reports the invasive African native species first began showing up between 1999-2001 after a local exotic animal breeder released eight of the rats into the wild. "We thought we had them whipped as of 2009," said Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced," he said. The rodents, officially known as the Gambian pouched rat, are the largest known breed of rats in the world. They can grow up to three feet in length and weigh as much as nine pounds. Wildlife officials fear that if the rodents make it to the Florida mainland, they could devastate local crops. ...


Some invasive species are more invasive than others.

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012
from Bergen County Record:
Exotic grass could help clean lead from soild
A subtropical grass might one day be grown in yards across North Jersey as an affordable way to deal with a lingering childhood health concern -- lead contamination. Dibs Sarkar, a local scientist, is studying how the long roots of the grass can absorb lead from the soil and store it. Tests in a greenhouse have so far been successful; the lead contamination was consumed by the plant so fast that the soil met federal standards in about two years. "We're confident this will work fantastically," said Sarkar, a researcher at Montclair State University. ...


Exotic, invasive grass: What could go wrong??

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 7, 2012
from Colorado Independent:
Forestry budgets sapped by scourges of warming climate
The warming climate is breeding more beetle-ravaged forest and prolonged fire seasons, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday, as he fielded questions about the White House's proposed agency budget for fiscal year 2013.... The wildfire risk is heightened as beetles make their way through the forests, sucking the life from trees and leaving dead, dried wood in their wake. The expansion of bark beetles "has started to slow a little bit," [Tidwell] said, but "we're still seeing about an additional 600,000 acres infested each year, so we're going to have to continue to maintain this focus for the next few years." ...


Bark beetles sound sooooo vampiric!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 29, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Global warming feeds bark beetles: Are they unstoppable?
Hear the sound of chewing out in our vast forests of lodgepole pine, spruce and fir, the chewing that's already destroyed half the commercial timber in important regions like British Columbia? That's the sound of climate change, says biologist Reese Halter. Global warming in the form of a bark beetle... As winters grow warmer and summers drier, the West's evergreen forests are being eaten alive. And the infestation is not showing any signs of slowing. The most disturbing part? Halter puts the blame squarely on climate change, of which the infestations are not only a symptom but a cause -- a feedback loop. ...


"Feedback loop" has multiple meanings here.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
from CBC News:
U.S. Supreme Court rejects Asian carp measures
The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to order emergency measures that might prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes, despite a warning that the exotic fish pose a "dire threat" to the region's environment and economy. Michigan and four neighboring states wanted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to install nets in two Chicago-area rivers and to expedite a study of permanent steps to head off an invasion by bighead and silver carp, which have advanced up the Mississippi River and its tributaries to within 88.5 kilometres of Lake Michigan. Scientists say if the large, prolific carp spread widely in the lakes, they could starve out native species and devastate the $7 billion US fishing industry. ...


Sometimes justice is shortsighted.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 31, 2012
from Associated Press:
Study: Pythons, other big snakes apparently killing off huge numbers of mammals in Everglades
A burgeoning population of huge pythons - many of them pets that were turned loose by their owners when they got too big - appears to be wiping out large numbers of raccoons, opossums, bobcats and other mammals in the Everglades, a study says. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that sightings of medium-size mammals are down dramatically - as much as 99 percent, in some cases - in areas where pythons and other large, non-native constrictor snakes are known to be lurking. Scientists fear the pythons could disrupt the food chain and upset the Everglades' environmental balance in ways difficult to predict. ...


Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf&*king snakes in this motherf&*king Everglades!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 23, 2012
from University of Hawaii at Manoa via ScienceDaily:
Native Forest Birds in Hawaii in Unprecedented Trouble
Native birds at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge are in unprecedented trouble, according to a paper recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.... birds are now so food-deprived that they take up to twice as long replace their feathers, an annual process known as molt. The authors confirmed the hypothesis that Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) birds are effectively competing with most species of native birds. Their research found that both young and adult birds took longer to complete their molt. ...


Aloha, in this context, does mean good-bye.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 3, 2012
from Washington Post:
Spaceship Earth: A new view of environmentalism
Spaceship Earth enters 2012 belching smoke, overheating and burning through fuel at a frightening rate. It's feeling pretty crowded, and the crew is mutinous. No one's at the helm. Sure, it's an antiquated metaphor. It's also an increasingly apt way to discuss a planet with 7 billion people, a global economy, a World Wide Web, climate change, exotic organisms running amok and all sorts of resource shortages and ecological challenges. More and more environmentalists and scientists talk about the planet as a complex system, one that human beings must aggressively monitor, manage and sometimes reengineer. Kind of like a spaceship. ...


Sounds like we are lost in space.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Dec 11, 2011
from CBS News:
Minn. gets new setback in fight against Asian carp
Tests have found signs of Asian carp in the Mississippi River north of a key physical barrier keeping the invasive species of fish from spreading into many of the state's most popular lakes, officials said Thursday. The sensitive tests detected DNA from silver carp in the water above the Coon Rapids Dam, which is upstream from Minneapolis, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Nineteen out of 48 water samples taken near the dam in September tested positive for silver carp DNA, and three of the positive results were from above the dam. No live Asian carp have been caught there yet, and experts aren't ruling out the possibility of false positives. But DNR officials said they were surprised and disappointed in the results because they thought the dam would be a good barrier. ...


Dam you, carp! Oh, wait, that doesn't work....

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 30, 2011
from New Scientist:
New Zealand's invasive ants mysteriously vanish
If only all ecological pests were so easily dispatched. The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), one of the world's worst invasive species, is disappearing from New Zealand - without any human intervention. The alien ant arrived in New Zealand in 1990 and has since marched across the nation's two main islands.... Perhaps no longer. Phil Lester and colleagues at the Victoria University of Wellington say that alien ant colonies in 60 locations are collapsing on their own. Lester thinks low genetic diversity, which is associated with reduced disease resistance, is the most likely reason for the ant's demise. ... [O]ther alien species won't be so easily dealt with. "For thousands of other invasive species around the world we've seen no such collapse," she says. ...


This invasive army may have just declared victory, and gone home.

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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Princeton University via ScienceDaily:
Do Not Harm Invasive Species That Pollinate, Study Warns
In an irony of nature, invasive species can become essential to the very ecosystems threatened by their presence, according to a recent discovery that could change how scientists and governments approach the restoration of natural spaces...destructive, non-native animals that have been deservedly maligned by conservationists the world over can take on important biological roles -- such as flower pollination -- once held by the species the interlopers helped eliminate. As a result, campaigns to curb invasive animal populations should include efforts to understand the role of the invasive species in question... ...


Human beings dodge another bullet.

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Thu, Oct 27, 2011
from Palm Beach Post News:
Wetlands restoration panel worries over loss of money for monitoring
The monitoring programs that reveal how Everglades restoration plans are working -- or not -- have been slashed by 60 percent overall -- leaving gaping holes in programs that predict algal blooms, monitor pollution, provide real-time water level data and assess the survival rates of endangered species. Gone altogether are programs that monitor the well-being of alligators, crocodiles and pink shrimp, indicator species that reveal the health of the entire ecosystem. Cuts to wading bird monitoring in Lake Okeechobee will leave scientists unable to accurately predict the start, peak and end of the nesting season -- benchmarks needed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between restoration efforts and wildlife. "Basically, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee are like patients in an emergency room," said Paul Gray, science coordinator for Lake Okeechobee watershed programs at Audubon of Florida. "If you have a patient in the emergency room, the last thing you want to do is shut off all the monitoring equipment." ...


Can't they, like, divine the answers?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from Associated Press:
Foreign insects, diseases got into US
Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply. At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department -- a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves. The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests. ...


The terrorists won, after all.

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Fri, Oct 7, 2011
from KSAX:
DNR Chemically Treats Zebra Mussel Infested Water in Otter Tail County
FRAZEE, Minn. (KSAX) - The Department of Natural Resources took an aggressive step to stop the spread of zebra mussels in Rose Lake in Otter Tail County Thursday. For the first time in the state the DNR attempted to control a small population of zebra mussels by chemically treating the infested body of water with copper sulfate. The pesticide commonly used to kill algae, has not been effective in killing large, established mussel populations, but DNR Invasive Species Specialist, Nathan Olson said the population in Rose Lake is juvenile and contained and has a much better chance or working.... The 10 acre area costs the DNR approximately $14,000 to treat. Although the price is high, Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations Vice President, Terry Kalil said it will cost the community much more if the spread isn't controlled. "We're not going to have a tourism industry left; it's that simple," Kalil said, "Our property value is going to plummet. There's not going to be people coming to the lakes." ...


What's black and white and copper sulfated all over?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 5, 2011
from Reuters:
Great Lakes face stresses from run-off, invaders
Great Lakes shorelines are becoming clogged by algae blooms fed by agricultural run-off, while invasive mussels decimate the food chain in deeper waters, an environmental group said on Tuesday. The five lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water and supply tens of millions of people, may be "veering close to ecosystem collapse," the report by the National Wildlife Federation said. "Too much food is causing massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and other coastal systems, while too little food is making fish starve in Lake Huron's offshore waters," said the group's Great Lakes director, Andy Buchsbaum. ...


Those poor Great Lakes are ate up lakes now.

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Wed, Oct 5, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Giant Alien Snails Attack Miami, Though They're Not in Much of a Rush
Floridians have grown accustomed to invasions of exotic creatures, like the Burmese pythons slithering throughout the Everglades. But residents here are especially grossed out by the latest arrivals: giant African land snails that grow as long as eight inches, chew through plants, plaster and stucco, and sometimes carry a parasite that can infect humans with a nonlethal strain of meningitis. The gastropods are among the most dangerous in the world, agriculture officials say. They each have male and female reproductive organs and can lay 1,200 eggs a year, allowing them to proliferate rapidly. Thousands of them have infested at least five separate neighborhoods in the Miami area. ...


Cue REALLY slow theme from 'Jaws' as interpreted by Barry White.

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Tue, Oct 4, 2011
from University of Hull via ScienceDaily:
Weeds Are Vital to the Existence of Farmland Species, Study Finds
Weeds, which are widely deemed as a nuisance plant, are vital to the existence of many farmland species according to a new University of Hull study published in the journal Biological Conservation. Since many weeds produce flowers and seed, they are an integral part of our ecosystem and together with other crop and non-crop seeds found on farms, they provide food for over 330 species of insects, birds and animals. ...


Weed has always been vital to me.

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from University of Florida via ScienceDaily:
Invasive Amphibians, Reptiles in Florida Outnumber World, Study Finds
Florida has the world's worst invasive amphibian and reptile problem, and a new 20-year study led by a University of Florida researcher verifies the pet trade as the No. 1 cause of the species' introductions... Florida law prohibits the release of non-native species without a state permit, but offenders cannot be prosecuted unless they are caught in the act. To date, no one in Florida has been prosecuted for the establishment of a non-indigenous animal. Researchers urge lawmakers to create enforceable policies before more species reproduce and become established. The study names 56 established species: 43 lizards, five snakes, four turtles, three frogs and a caiman, a close relative of the American alligator. ...


Where I come from we call these invasives Snowbirds.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 8, 2011
from BBC:
Giant crabs make Antarctic leap
King crabs have been found on the edge of Antarctica, probably as a result of warming in the region, scientists say. Writing in the journal Proceedings B, scientists report a large, reproductive population of crabs in the Palmer Deep, a basin cut in the continental shelf. They suggest the crabs were washed in during an upsurge of warmer water. The crabs are voracious crushers of sea floor animals and will probably change the ecosystem profoundly if and when they spread further, researchers warn. Related species have been found around islands off the Antarctic Peninsula and on the outer edge of the continental shelf. But here the crabs (Neolithodes yaldwyni) are living and reproducing in abundance right on the edge of the continent itself. ...


Let's send scads of giant jellyfish to do battle!

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Thu, Aug 25, 2011
from Christian Science Monitor:
Feared Khapra beetle pest intercepted at airport
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol investigators said Tuesday that they intercepted a feared nonnative beetle in bags of rice that arrived at O'Hare International Airport from India, the latest in a surge of discoveries of the hard-to-kill pest that could damage this country's grain industry if it became established. The beetle, about 2 to 3 mm long, can damage up to 70 percent of grain, and can cause intestinal problems if eaten, officials said. Infestations are difficult to control because the beetle can survive for long periods of time without food or moisture -- including in spices, packaged food and stored grain -- is resistant to chemicals and can hide in tiny cracks and crevices. If it were to become established in this country, "it's going to disrupt our economy" because of the volume of grain and wheat exported by farmers, Bell said. "Countries know they're getting a clean product (from the U.S.)." Experts say the number of interceptions of the khapra beetle have increased dramatically in recent years. As of July 26, the bug has been intercepted 100 times nationwide, compared to an average 15 times in 2007-2009 and an average 6 times per year in 2005 and 2006, Bell said. Those shipments mostly have come from northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, he said. ...


Globalization, at the species level.

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Fri, Aug 19, 2011
from Washington Post:
Plants and animals fleeing climate changes
Across the globe, plants and animals are creeping, crawling, slithering and winging to higher altitudes and latitudes as temperatures climb. Moreover, the greater the warming in any given region, the farther its plants and animals have migrated, according to the largest analysis to date of the rapidly shifting ranges of species in Europe, North America, Chile and Malaysia.... "This more or less puts to bed the issue of whether these shifts are related to climate change. There isn't any obvious alternative explanation for why species should be moving poleward in studies around the world."... On average, species migrated uphill 36 feet per decade and moved away from the equator -- to cooler, higher latitudes -- at 10 miles per decade. The rates are two to three times those estimated by the last major migration analysis, published in 2003.... As species shift ranges, they're coming into contact with other species in new patterns, Chen said, a phenomenon called reshuffling. But ecologists are just beginning to study how species reshuffling may affect ecosystems. ...


Wait a minute -- there's a card game? And we're "all in" already?

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Wed, Aug 17, 2011
from PNAS, via IdahoStatesman.com:
Idaho trout face climate trouble, study finds
"Fundamentally, skepticism is a good thing in science," said Wenger, a fisheries researcher with Trout Unlimited in Boise. Both Wenger and Isaak, a fisheries biologist at the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, were a part of a team of 11 scientists who said trout habitat could drop by 50 percent over the next 70 years because of a warming world. The paper, published Monday in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat habitat could decline by 58 percent. The two men, who have devoted their lives to scientific research, say they depend on the scientific method and peer review to judge the quality of the research that underscores their findings. The climate predictions are based on 10 of the 20 climate models developed independently worldwide that all show the world is getting warmer. "The climate models have been right for 30 years and they are getting better all the time," Isaak said. The data these men have collected in the watersheds of the West shows the same trends, they said. And warmer water isn't the only problem. The research also shows that warmer winters are causing more winter floods that wash away the gravel that holds brook and brown trout eggs. The changing spring and summer flows give rainbow trout an advantage over native cutthroat trout in the rivers they share, allowing the invaders to crowd out the natives. And the forecast for the future is more unnerving to these researchers and anglers than even they want to believe. The most dire climate models show temperatures in Idaho rising an average of 9 degrees in 70 years, Wenger said. "That would make Boise pretty unpleasant," he said. "None of us want to believe that." But Wenger is a scientist. He may hope the models that predict only a 4- to 5-degree rise over 70 years are more accurate, but he has to use the science that is available. "I have to set aside my feelings and use the best data," he said. ...


If, of course, you believe in so-called "evidence."

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 5, 2011
from AP, via Chicago Tribune:
Invasive bug found at Michigan border crossings
An invasive bug with a taste for grains such as wheat, barley, corn and rice and the potential to severely harm Michigan's agriculture industry has been discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at crossings in Detroit and Port Huron. Two Khapra beetles were found in a shipment of chickpeas from India this spring at the Fort Street Cargo Facility, and two Khapra larvae and a live beetle were found in a family's luggage last month at the Blue Water Bridge. The bug may only be as big as a nickel is thick, but "if not interdicted, (it) could wipe out soybean, wheat and corn crops," Kenneth Hammond, chief of cargo operations at the Fort Street center, told The Detroit News for a story Monday.... "They typically are very tough insects," Zablotny said. "The pest, if it gets loose in the U.S., will be a major problem." ...


To be Frank, the Khapra beetle is simply looking for a Wonderful Life.

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from National Post:
Pacific species migrating through warmer Northwest Passage
Set loose by an ice-free Northwest Passage, an invasion force of Pacific sea creatures are moving east to Atlantic waters. Researchers at the U.K.-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science have called the discovery of a microscopic west coast plant on the east coast a "harbinger of an inundation of the North Atlantic with foreign organisms."... "The Arctic is getting easier to navigate ... organisms that don't even swim are getting through," says Eric Solomon, director of conservation strategy at the Vancouver Aquarium.... "There's going to be some reshuffling of the ecosystems," says Mr. O'Dor. "Whether that's good for humans or bad for humans is yet to be determined." The invasion is already bad news for Newfoundland's ravaged Atlantic cod. While the decimated cod stock may no longer be threatened by fishing nets, they are "facing a potentially mutating ecosystem with the arrival of these different species," says Julian Dodson, a marine biologist at the University of Laval. He notes Arctic char are already facing tough competition for food by schools of east-moving capelin, a small forage fish.... Pacific salmon have begun cropping up off the Arctic coast of Alaska, and Atlantic salmon are appearing near Iqaluit. It is "inevitable" the two species will eventually collide, says Mr. O'Dor. ...


We've run out of immigration forms!!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from The Telegraph:
RSPB to destroy rats on Henderson Island
The RSPB will be destroying rodents introduced by humans on to Henderson Island, an uninhabited part of the UK's Pitcairn overseas territory, in a bid to save the endangered Henderson petrel which nests only on the island. Rats are eating 25,000 newly hatched Henderson petrel chicks each year on the World Heritage-listed island, driving the species towards extinction. The Henderson petrel is the most threatened of the four petrel species which nest on the island, as it is found nowhere else in the world, but all four have seen populations plummet as a result of the rats. The rodents, which were introduced by Polynesian settlers, eat 95 percent of chicks alive within the first week of hatching and the number of petrels has dropped from millions of pairs 800 years ago to an estimated 40,000 now, the RSPB said.... "People introduced the rats which are threatening the survival of the Henderson petrel and now we're trying to make amends before it's too late." ...


If we make all the amends that are due, who knows what may happen?

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from Guardian:
British ladybug species struggling to compete with aliens
More than one-fifth of native ladybird species are in decline across the British Isles as environmental changes and competition from voracious alien invaders take their toll on the insects' numbers. The grim outlook for 10 of the 47 ladybird species found in the UK and Ireland is revealed in the first comprehensive census compiled with help from tens of thousands of volunteer spotters.... Some native ladybirds are struggling to survive alongside species that have recently become established in Britain. A decline in the two-spot ladybird has been blamed on the arrival and spectacular rise of the Asian harlequin ladybird, which was introduced into Europe to control pests.... Helen Roy, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Oxfordshire, and one of the authors of the Ladybird Atlas of Britain and Ireland, said: "What's quite striking is that in the same way as butterflies and moths have seen very common species going into decline, we're seeing the same happen with ladybirds. "What is particularly worrying about the declines is that many of these are common species, the ones people will be most familiar with in their gardens. We have not unravelled all the causes behind the declines, but a warming climate and changes in land use are expected to have an impact. "They are telling us there are changes going up through the food chain. Ladybirds can be used as indicators of wider changes in our environment," Roy said. ...


We should bring in some cane toads -- they're great on pests.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jun 11, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Flooding Mississippi May Have Spread Invasive Asian Carp
While scientists have been battling to keep a ravenous, invasive fish species out of the Great Lakes, some worry that spring floods along the Mississippi River may be spreading the Asian carp downstream.... They can weigh up to 100 pounds, grow 4 feet long and live for 25 years. They could be crowding out food sources of native species for decades.... "We may now be finding them in lakes, ponds, bayous, anywhere the river water went. Those things will be full of carp now."... Most freshwater species cannot survive in a salty environment. But the carp can. "Asian carp unfortunately are the exception that can do fairly well in high-salinity water," Chapman said. How far the fish may spread because of the flood won't be known for some time, he said. ...


Isn't "carp" just the letters of "crap" trasnposed?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 25, 2011
from via ScienceDaily:
Mediterranean Sea Invaded by Hundreds of Alien Species
More than 900 new alien species have been encountered in the coastal environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea in recent decades, including the poisonous pufferfish. The invasion of alien species has had the consequence that the whole food chain is changing, while there is a lack of knowledge on which to base relevant risk assessments, a four-year study conducted at the University of Gothenburg shows. ...


Just so everybody's still eating everyone else.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 23, 2011
from New York Times:
Mid-Atlantic Dreads Bad Summer of Foul, Hungry Stink Bugs
The brown marmorated stink bug is believed to have arrived here from Asia in the 1990s. It has made its way from Pennsylvania to at least 33 states, and has been spotted as far west as California and Washington. A continuing advance is inexorable, scientists say, because the bugs have no natural predators and can travel long distances -- not by flying, but via a more convenient method: covertly hitching rides in vehicles. The insect has caused tens of millions of dollars in damage, munching apples, peppers, corn and soybeans, and has proved to be a general irritant -- in no small part because of its foul odor, which the bug secretes as a defense mechanism. "The feeling in the bug world is this is the worst bug we've seen in 40 years," said Michael J. Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland. "It eats peaches and grapes and soybeans. It's annihilated organic growers who can't use pesticides. And guess what? After it eats your crops, it comes inside your home. I've never seen another bug do that." ...


The stinky side of globalization.

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Mon, May 2, 2011
from NRDC Staff Blog:
Asian Carp have Spawned Water Ninjas on the Illinois River
It has come to this. The Asian carp infestation in Peoria has some intrepid water skiers taking to the Illinois River in spiked body armor with wolverine claws and samurai swords to take the fight to the invasive species. This is not the most intense video of carp problems; it is the most intense video in response to the fish that I have seen...by a lot! Remember folks, these are...ummm...professionals, don't try this at home.... [see original for video].... Thom Cmar popped into my office and said, "... so this is what recreation on our rivers looks like after the Asian carp apocalypse? If so, then I want to hang out with these guys. ...


Invasive species -- as sport!

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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from Jakarta Globe:
Weather Blamed for Caterpillar Plague
Unpredictable weather coupled with a decline in natural predators is responsible for a recent plague of caterpillars in parts of the country. Though the phenomenon is centered largely in Probolinggo, East Java, smaller reported outbreaks in Central Java, West Java, Bali and, most recently, Jakarta have prompted fears of a widespread infestation... Since March, millions of hairy caterpillars have cropped up in at least five subdistricts in Probolinggo, invading fields and homes. They have also caused itchy rashes among residents. The caterpillars have also destroyed more than 8,800 mango trees -- the district's main agricultural produce. ...


Isn't "hairy caterpillars" one of the Seven Signs? Dear Lord...

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Invasive Mussels Causing Massive Ecological Changes in Great Lake
The ongoing spread of non-native mussels in the Great Lakes has caused "massive, ecosystem-wide changes" throughout lakes Michigan and Huron, two of the planet's largest freshwater lakes, according to a new University of Michigan-led study. The blitzkrieg advance of two closely related species of mussels -- the zebra and quagga -- is stripping the lakes of their life-supporting algae, resulting in a remarkable ecological transformation and threatening the multibillion-dollar U.S. commercial and recreational Great Lakes fisheries.... "These are astounding changes, a tremendous shifting of the very base of the food web in those lakes into a state that has not been seen in the recorded history of the lakes," said Mary Anne Evans, lead author of a paper scheduled for publication in the April 15 edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. "We're talking about massive, ecosystem-wide changes." ...


It's exciting to be at a premiere!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
from Basque Research:
In recent decades, the number of alien species in Navarre has tripled
In concrete, the experts involved are focusing on endemic freshwater species - euryhalines and diadromes - fish that can live in both fresh and salty water (such as salmon and eels).... In this sense, it is striving to increase awareness of and interest in autochthonous fish species under threat due to a number of factors. Amongst the most serious, points out Mr Miranda, is the alteration of the habitat caused by hydraulic works, water extraction, industrial waste dumping, the extraction of sand or the canalisation of riverbeds. "Moreover, particularly serious is the introduction of alien species, which causes the greatest impact", he stressed. According to the expert, invasive fish fed into our lakes and rivers put the survival of autochthonous Iberian Ichthyofauna in danger: "In fact, biological invasions are the second great cause of loss of biodiversity in the world, being especially damaging to freshwater systems". This is the case of predatory species such as black bass, pike or catfish, all of which are present in rivers in Navarre.... "This is the case of bleak (alburon) - possibly introduced as bait from France - and which in 20 years has become the dominant species over all the middle-range and lower stretches of the Ebro river basin and which, on competing with the nose fish (madrilla), has made the latter's numbers plummet throughout the zone". ...


Ironically, this English is written by a non-native speaker.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 4, 2011
from Edmonton Journal:
Mountain pine beetles could infect forests across Canada
Mountain pine beetles have successfully made the species jump from lodgepole pine to jack pine, increasing concerns that the pest could infect forests from British Columbia to the East coast, according to a University of Alberta-led research team. The group of U of A tree biologists and geneticists discovered that, as the mountain pine beetle spread eastward from central B.C., it successfully jumped species from its main host, the lodgepole pine, to the jack pine. Jack pine is the dominant pine species in Canada's boreal forest, which stretches east from Alberta all the way to the Maritime provinces.... "Mountain pine beetle is not (native) to the boreal forest and therefore should be considered an invasive species and managed as such. Forest ecosystems in North America have already been challenged with numerous pest invasions that represent a considerable threat. When we factor in climate change, the vulnerability of ecosystems such as the boreal forest to disturbance is further increased putting an extremely important ecosystem in jeopardy." ...


Some days I feel like I'm being borealed alive.

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Sat, Mar 26, 2011
from National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily:
Kudzu Vines Spreading North from US Southeast With Warming Climate
Kudzu, the plant scourge of the U.S. Southeast. The long tendrils of this woody vine, or liana, are on the move north with a warming climate. But kudzu may be no match for the lianas of the tropics, scientists have found. Data from sites in eight studies show that lianas are overgrowing trees in every instance. If the trend continues, these "stranglers-of-the-tropics" may suffocate equatorial forest ecosystems. ...


Sounds like someday we will all live in the Land of Kudzuliana.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 24, 2011
from London Daily Mail:
The European invader that's after your blood: Ticks from continent discovered in UK
A breed of blood-sucking tick normally found on the continent has been discovered in Britain for the first time. Scientists say that climate change has brought the parasite to the UK - and warned that it may have brought with it new strains of disease from Europe. The researchers, from the University of Bristol, also found that the number of pet dogs infested with ticks was far higher than previously thought. This increases the risk thatdiseases carried by the foreign tick - Dermacentor reticulatus - will spread quickly to people and animals in this country, they cautioned. ...


Foreign ticks... work harder than domestic ones!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 22, 2011
from The Washington Post:
King crabs invade Antarctica
Sven Thatje has been predicting an invasion of deep-water crabs into shallow Antarctic waters for the past several years. But the biologist and his colleagues got their first look at the march of the seafloor predators while riding on an icebreaker across frozen Antarctic seas this winter. The ship towed a robot sub carrying a small digital camera that filmed the seafloor below. It caught images of bright red king crabs up to 10 inches long, moving into an undersea habitat of creatures that haven't seen sharp teeth or claws for the past 40 million years. ...


Cue theme from "Claws."

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Thu, Mar 17, 2011
from University of York, via EurekAlert:
Intervention offers 'best chance' to save species endangered by climate change
A University of York scientist is proposing a radical programme of 'assisted colonisation' to save species endangered by climate change. Chris Thomas, Professor of Conservation Biology, says the strategy is applicable across the world, and he suggests Britain as a potential haven for species such as the Iberian lynx, the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Pyrenean Desman and the Provence Chalkhill Blue butterfly. In an opinion paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Professor Thomas, of the University's Department of Biology, says that moving endangered species is the only viable option to maintain some climate-endangered species in the wild.... Professor Thomas says a more radical policy is now required if humanity wishes to minimise the number of species that become extinct from all causes, including from climate change and species invasions. He says increased local and regional species richness that would result is positive, provided that this does not result in higher global extinction rates. "Translocation represents one of the principal means of saving species from extinction from climate change; in conjunction with maintaining large areas of high quality (low human impact) habitats," he says. ...


I didn't know Noah had a doctorate.

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Fri, Feb 25, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Global Red Fire Ant Invasions Traced to Southern US
Red imported fire ant invasions around the globe in recent years can now be traced to the southern U.S., where the nuisance insect gained a foothold in the 1930s, new University of Florida research has found. Native to South America, the ant had been contained there and in the southeastern U.S. before turning up in faraway places in the last 20 years -- including California, China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.... The research team used several types of molecular genetic markers to trace the origins of ants in nine locations where recent invasions occurred. They traced all but one of the invasions to the southern U.S. The exception was an instance where the ants moved from the southeastern U.S. to California, then to Taiwan. Ascunce said the scientists were surprised by the findings. "I thought that at least one of the populations in the newly invaded areas would have come from South America, but all of the genetic data suggest the most likely source in virtually every case was the southern U.S.," she said. The study results show the problematic side of a robust global trade and travel network. ...


If we pass an invasive species on elsewhere, are we half as much at fault, or doubly?

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Wed, Feb 23, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Campaign to stop 'killer shrimp'
Fishermen are being warned to look out for a 'killer shrimp' amid fears the invasive species is spreading across Britain, endangering native fish stocks. The aggressive shrimp, that often kills its prey and leaves it uneaten, is originally from Eastern Europe but is now being found in lakes and rivers across the country. The spread is being blamed on a new craze for fishing on open water using inflatable tyres as the larvae attach to the bottom of the tubes and are transported to new waters. The Environment Agency are so concerned about the spread of the invasive species it is launching a campaign to warn the nation's 4 million fishermen to clean equipment between fishing trips. And a water company in the north west has even banned floating tyres. The shrimp, officially called Dikerogammarus villous, will attack insect larvae, baby fish and native shrimp, upsetting the food chain and threatening stocks of trout and salmon or coarse fish such as roach and rudd further up the food chain. ...


Apocaiku: The invasive thing / wills to kill because it can, / emptying the lake.

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Wed, Feb 9, 2011
from Discovery, via DesdemonaDespair:
King Crabs Invade Antarctic Waters: 'quite frightening' pace
Warming waters along the Antarctic peninsula have opened the door to shell-crushing king crabs that threaten a unique ecosystem on the seafloor, according to new research by a U.S.-Sweden team of marine researchers.... marine biologists collected digital images of hundreds of crabs moving closer to the shallow coastal waters that have been protected from predators with pincers for more than 40 million years. They are the same kind of deep-water crabs with big red claws that you might find at the seafood counter.... Bottom-dwelling creatures like mussels, brittle stars and sea urchins have not developed any defenses. They have thinner shells, for example. For the same reason, filter feeders, like clams and worms, burrow underground in most regions. The lack of predators has led to a thick canopy of sorts, much like a submarine jungle comprised of flowery feather stars, tube worms and squirming sea spiders.... "The pace of changes that we are observing here in the Antarctic, which is the remotest continent on this planet, is quite frightening," he said. What's happened is that the waters around the Antarctic peninsula have begun to get warmer. The air temperature has jumped 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1950s, while the average ocean temperature has increased by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the same time. ...


Get Long John Silver's and Red Lobster to work on it. Problem solved!

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Sat, Feb 5, 2011
from BBC:
New Zealand scientists record 'biodiversity breakdown'
Scientists in New Zealand say they have linked the modern-day decline of a common forest shrub with the local extinction of two pollinating birds over a century ago. They say the disappearance of two birds - the bellbird and stitchbird - from the upper North Island of the country has lead to a slow decline in common plants, including the forest shrub New Zealand gloxinia. Ship rats and stoats imported into the country around the year 1870 are blamed for the birds' demise.... The researchers wanted to observe the impact on New Zealand gloxinia of these disappearing bird populations and so compared the situation on the mainland with that of three nearby island bird sanctuaries where the birds remain abundant. What they found was that pollination rates were vastly reduced on the mainland with seed production per flower 84 percent lower compared with the islands. While this has yet to fully manifest itself in the density of adult gloxinia populations on the mainland, the researchers found 55 percent fewer juvenile plants per adult plant on the mainland vis-a-vis the islands.... An estimated 49 percent of all land birds have been lost in New Zealand, say the researchers, and the consequences of that are far greater than those outlined in this study. ...


I suppose that implies something I should infer.

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from AIBS, via EurekAlert:
Oysters at risk: Gastronomes' delight disappearing globally
A new, wide-ranging survey that compares the past and present condition of oyster reefs around the globe finds that more than 90 percent of former reefs have been lost in most of the "bays" and ecoregions where the prized molluscs were formerly abundant. In many places, such as the Wadden Sea in Europe and Narragansett Bay, oysters are rated "functionally extinct," with fewer than 1 percent of former reefs persisting. The declines are in most cases a result of over-harvesting of wild populations and disease, often exacerbated by the introduction of non-native species.... Beck's team examined oyster reefs across 144 bays and 44 ecoregions. It also studied historical records as well as national catch statistics.... The survey team argues for improved mapping efforts and the removal of incentives to over-exploitation. It also recommends that harvesting and further reef destruction should not be allowed wherever oysters are at less than 10 percent of their former abundance, unless it can be shown that these activities do not substantially affect reef recovery. ...


"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,/ "You've had a pleasant run!/ Shall we be trotting home again?'/ But answer came there none--/ And this was scarcely odd, because/ They'd eaten every one.

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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minnesota:
Not enough being done to prevent zebra mussels spread in local lakes; potential to be 'biggest bombshell' ever for county
If anything is going to be done to prevent invasive species like zebra mussels from entering county lakes, it may have to be done locally. Kandiyohi County Commissioner Dennis Peterson said legislators do not understand how serious the problem is and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is procrastinating and not taking necessary action. The end result will most surely be a disastrous infestation of zebra mussels that could cause property values around high-priced lakes like Green Lake to plummet, he said. A 30 percent drop in property values is already happening on lakes near Alexandria where zebra mussels have been found, Peterson said. If that happens here it will be the "biggest bombshell this county has ever seen," said Peterson, who's afraid that it may already be too late to prevent zebra mussels from entering Green Lake. During a report Tuesday at the County Board of Commissioners' meeting, Peterson said it's time for local lake associations and residents to "really raise heck." ...


A little heck-raising may indeed be required.

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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Why Bedbugs Won't Die
The first comprehensive genetic study of bedbugs, the irritating pests that have enjoyed a world-wide resurgence in recent years, indicates they are quickly evolving to withstand the pesticides used to combat them. The new findings from entomologists at Ohio State University, reported Wednesday online in PLoS One, show that bedbugs may have boosted their natural defenses by generating higher levels of enzymes that can cleanse them of poisons. In New York City, bedbugs now are 250 times more resistant to the standard pesticide than bedbugs in Florida... Bedbugs today appear to have nerve cells better able to withstand the chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes that detoxify the lethal substances, and thicker shells that can block insecticides. ...


If only humans were so advanced.

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Tue, Jan 18, 2011
from Detroit News:
Invasive species rules stall
A year after the Asian carp's threat to the Great Lakes threw a national spotlight on invasive species, critics say no definitive action on the issue's two key focal points has been made. Ballast water from oceangoing ships, considered the largest source of invasive species in the Great Lakes, remains largely unregulated. And the Mississippi River system, where the Asian carp is firmly entrenched, remains connected to the Great Lakes. While there has been progress on both issues behind the scenes, conservationists say the pace is unacceptable and leaves the Great Lakes playing a game of Russian roulette year after year. ...


From now on the Great Lakes shall be called the Wait Lakes.

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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from Reuters:
"Dangerous" beetle found at Los Angeles airport
U.S. customs officials said on Wednesday they had found a beetle considered one of the world's most dangerous agricultural pests in a shipment of rice arriving at Los Angeles International Airport. Agricultural specialists with U.S. Customs and Border Protection found an adult khapra beetle, eight larvae and a shed skin in a shipment of Indian rice from Saudi Arabia last week, spokesman Jaime Ruiz said. The khapra beetle, which is native to India and not currently established in the United States, is considered one of the most destructive pests of grain products and seeds. ...


I suppose the beetle will invoke the DREAM Act.

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Wed, Dec 29, 2010
from Washington Post:
U.S., D.C. schedule bedbug summits
In keeping with the best of government traditions, the Federal Bed Bug Work Group is hosting its second national summit Feb. 1-2 in Washington to brainstorm about solutions to the resurgence of the tiny bloodsuckers that have made such an itch-inducing comeback in recent years. The summit will be open to the public, officials said, and will focus on ways the federal government and others can work together to manage and control the pests, which have been showing up in apartment buildings, college dorms, luxury hotels, movie theaters, Manhattan retail stores and increasingly, in office buildings, according to officials and pest management companies. ...


A bedbug summit? That sounds positively scandalous!

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Mon, Dec 27, 2010
from NPR:
Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies' Whitebark Pines
The Whitebark pine trees in the high-elevation areas of America's Northern Rockies have stood for centuries. But these formerly lush evergreen forests are disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate; what remains are eerie stands of red and gray snags. Warmer climates have sparked an outbreak of a voracious mountain pine beetle that is having devastating consequences for whitebarks and the wildlife that depend on them... As entomologist Jesse Logan looks up at snow-covered slopes speckled with skeletons of dead trees, he says the massacre is happening faster than even he expected. More than a decade ago, Logan predicted that with global warming, these tiny, ravenous beetles would start to thrive here. At the time, other insect experts were skeptical. But in recent years, winter cold snaps haven't been nearly as brutal as usual. ...


This, my friends, is the Age of Skeptics Are Usually Wrong.

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Wed, Dec 22, 2010
from Reuters:
Invasive species lie in wait, strike after decades
Species that are moved away from their natural predators back home can displace native species in their new habitats, and scientists say the problem already costs Europe 12 billion euros ($16 billion) a year. The study, which is likely to hold true for other continents too, means that the seeds of future, perhaps bigger, problems have literally already been sown. The study compared the effects of "alien species" such as American ragweed, Canada geese or Japanese deer in 28 European countries. The study's findings indicated that it can take decades to figure out which alien species will be disruptive, and looking at those that arrived in 1900 was a better indicator of current problems than looking at those from 2000. ...


They're invasive... their alien ... and they're sneaky, too!

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from Reuters:
Blue Tongue, Blight, Beetles Pester A Warmer World
Beetles killing trees in North America, blue tongue disease ravaging livestock in Europe, and borers destroying African coffee crops are examples of migrating invasive species not getting enough attention at global climate talks, scientists said on Wednesday. Invasive pests have plagued agriculture and nature for thousands of years as mankind's migrations brought them to places without natural enemies. But the price tag to battle them, now estimated at $1.4 trillion annually, may go up as rising temperatures and more storms and floods unleash species to new areas. "The problem of invasive species has been all but omitted from the U.N. talks here in Mexico," A.G. Kawamura, the secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture, told Reuters. He said scientists want to reintroduce the issue of invasive insects, germs and plants so at next year's talks in Durban, South Africa, pests will be a top subject. ...


A.G. Kawamura sounds like a big pest to me.

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from Chicago Tribune, via Portland Press-Herald:
Great Lakes bird die-off still a mystery
The hunt is on in the upper reaches of Lake Michigan to count what's believed to be thousands of bird carcasses that have washed ashore this fall -- a staggering toll blamed on the disruptive powers of invasive species that have taken root in the Great Lakes. All invasive species bring consequences that few can predict, leading scientists to ponder the thousands of gulls, loons, mergansers and other migratory birds whose remains wash ashore along the beaches in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's upper peninsula each fall. There is a somewhat controversial theory for this annual die-off, which by some estimates has claimed more than 100,000 birds in the past 15 years, involving a type of naturally occurring but deadly botulism linked to the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which entered the Great Lakes decades ago aboard ocean vessels. "There's still a lot about this we don't know," said Joe Kaplan, of the Michigan-based nonprofit Common Coast Research & Conservation. "The one thing we do know is that it's killing a lot of birds that are important to us."... The first sizable bird die-off count came in 1999, when researchers recorded 311 birds off the shores of Lake Erie. The following year, they found 8,000 around the Great Lakes and the death counts have remained in the thousands every year since. ...


Those are naturally occurring invasive species, y'know.

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Sat, Nov 6, 2010
from BBC:
River Lagan under attack from invading alien plants
The River Lagan, one of Northern Ireland's major waterways, has been attacked by a highly invasive aquatic plant. Floating pennywort has been discovered along its banks. So far over five tonnes of the weed has been removed. The plant is native to North America. It was first brought into Ireland as a plant for tropical aquariums and ponds, but it has since escaped into the wild at a limited number of locations in Northern Ireland. It is capable of growing at a rate of 20cm a day and once established it can quickly form thick floating mats across the water's surface.... Ecologists in Northern Ireland are watching alien species encroaching on a number of fronts. Slipper limpets, muntjac deer and Japanese ironweed all have the potential to devastate local habitats. And the so-called Sudden Oak Death disease, a fungus attacking Japanese larch trees, has been found in at least five woodlands in Northern Ireland. Ironically it almost certainly came in on non-native or alien plants imported for ornamental gardens. ...


Accidents happen. And then they grow roots.

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Wed, Nov 3, 2010
from USA Today:
Global warming may bring giant, voracious crabs to Antarctica
Changing ocean temperatures may allow giant, voracious, predatory crabs to enter the unique continental-shelf ecosystems of Antarctica. Research by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton in the United Kingdom found that even small increases in water temperature due to global warming could bring king crabs into new areas. King crabs are a popular food source. But historically they haven't been able to live in the high-Antarctic continental shelves, so the species that currently live there have not evolved to cope with them. ...


I suppose we had this coming.

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Sat, Oct 23, 2010
from Associated Press:
Horror disease hits Uganda
A disease whose progression and symptoms seem straight out of a horror movie but which can be treated has killed at least 20 Ugandans and sickened more than 20,000 in just two months. Jiggers, small insects which look like fleas, are the culprits in the epidemic which causes parts of the body to rot. They often enter through the feet. Once inside a person's body, they suck the blood, grow and breed, multiplying by the hundreds. Affected body parts -- buttocks, lips, even eyelids -- rot away...The insects breed in dirty, dusty places. The medical name for the parasitic disease is tungiasis, which is caused by the female sand fly burrowing into the skin. It exists in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, besides sub-Saharan Africa...health workers are telling residents of the 12 affected districts in Uganda that jiggers thrive amid poor hygienic conditions. ...


Praise the Lord and pass the hand sanitizer.

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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
from CBC:
New invasive tunicate hits New Brunswick waters
An aquatic invasive species never seen before in New Brunswick has been spotted on the Acadian Peninsula. Michel Poitras, an oyster harvester who teaches aquaculture at the Caraquet campus of the New Brunswick Community College, says the golden star tunicate he discovered off Caraquet earlier this month is worrisome. Tunicates enrobe mollusks and suffocate them, leading to high mortality rates among shellfish, he said. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating the situation to determine how the species got here, and how extensive the problem is. A DFO spokesman says a meeting will be held later this week to come up with a battle plan for fighting off the small, damaging invaders.... Invasive tunicates, sometimes called sea squirts, have been a problem in Atlantic Canada for at least 40 years. A new invading tunicate species has been reported in local waters at least once every five years since 1970, according to the DFO website. The species can arrive through ballast water, attached to hulls or on fishing gear. ...


I call invasive species "man-made biodiversity"!

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Sun, Oct 10, 2010
from Associated Press:
Great Lakes are invasive species playground
For thousands of years, the Great Lakes were protected by Niagara Falls on the east and a subcontinental divide on the west, but those barriers to the country's grandest freshwater system were obliterated over the past century so that oceanic freighters could float in and Chicago sewage could float out. Unwanted species have been invading with tick-tock regularity ever since. It is a problem that lacks the graphic horror of the gulf oil spill, but is more environmentally catastrophic in that it unleashes a pollution that does not decay or disperse -- it breeds. Native fish populations have crashed, freshwater beaches have suffocated under mounds of rotting algae, bird-killing botulism outbreaks have soared and the lakes' invasive species problems have spread down Chicago's canals, into the vast Mississippi basin and across the continent. ...


It's a playground where everyone and everything is a bully.

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from New York Times:
Move Over, Bedbugs: Stink Bugs Have Landed
...Damage to fruit and vegetable crops from stink bugs in Middle Atlantic states has reached critical levels, according to a government report. That is in addition to the headaches the bugs are giving homeowners who cannot keep them out of their living rooms -- especially the people who unwittingly step on them. When stink bugs are crushed or become irritated, they emit a pungent odor that is sometimes described as skunklike. Suddenly, the bedbug has competition for pest of the year. Farmers in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states are battling a pest whose appetite has left dry boreholes in everything from apples and grapes to tomatoes and soybeans. Stink bugs have made their mark on 20 percent of the apple crop at Mr. Masser's Scenic View Orchards here. Other farmers report far worse damage. ...


We can only hope the stink bugs won't get into bed with the bedbugs.

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Sun, Sep 19, 2010
from New York Post:
Rat-eating opossums now run amok in Brooklyn
The city played possum -- and Brooklyn residents lost. In a bizarre attempt to outwit Mother Nature, city officials introduced beady-eyed opossums in Brooklyn years ago to scarf down rats running amok in the borough, according to local officials. Surprise: Operation opossum didn't work. Not only do wily rats continue to thrive, but the opossums have become their own epidemic, with bands of the conniving creatures sauntering through yards, plundering garbage cans and noshing on fruit trees.... "Didn't any of those brain surgeons realize that the opossums were going to multiply?"... The opossums were set free in local parks and underneath the Coney Island boardwalk, with the theory being they would die off once the rats were gobbled up, said Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn). ...


They tell me 'possum tastes a lot like chicken.

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Tue, Sep 14, 2010
from BBC:
Alien 'killer' shrimp found in UK
An invasive species of predatory shrimp has been found in the UK for the first time. The animal was spotted by anglers at the Grafham Water reservoir in Cambridgeshire and sent to the Environment Agency for identification. The shrimp preys on a range of native species, such as freshwater invertebrates - particularly native shrimp - and even young fish. This alters the ecology of habitats it invades, and could cause extinctions. According to the Environment Agency, the animal, known as Dikerogammarus villosus, often kills its prey and leaves it uneaten. Insects such as damselflies and water boatmen could be at risk, with knock-on effects on the species which feed on them. ...


These killer shrimp sound remarkably human-like.

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Sun, Sep 12, 2010
from Contra Costa Times:
Delta: A lake in the making
The toxic blue-green algae floating in the scientist's jar is a symptom of a disturbing shift in the West Coast's biggest estuary. Common in lakes and reservoirs around the world, this kind of algae is less likely to be found in estuaries where rivers and ocean tides tangle in a restless ebb and flow. But the slime has spread in an increasingly stagnant Delta. After five years of studies, scientists are coalescing around the idea that diverting fresh water to farms and cities has led to a fundamental change in the Delta by slowing flows for most of the year. Other factors are also at play, especially the dramatic conversion of a once vast tidal marsh into a network of deep channels and "islands" first built for farming. In short, the Delta is becoming more like a lake or a lagoon, researchers say. ...


Revelations chapter 2, verse 17: "And the deltas shall become like lakes or lagoons."

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Wed, Sep 8, 2010
from Scientific American:
Report: 21 percent of Africa's freshwater species threatened with extinction
More than a fifth of Africa's freshwater species are threatened with extinction, and their disappearance could threaten livelihoods across the continent, according to a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study, conducted for the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, assessed 5,167 African freshwater species over a five-year period. Two hundred scientists contributed to the report, which covers fish, mollusks, crabs, aquatic plants and aquatic insects such as dragonflies and damselflies.... [A]n introduced species (the Nile perch, Lates niloticus) have caused a reduction in the lake's native species over the last 30 years and as a result threatened traditional fisheries that any in the region depend upon for their livelihoods and food supplies. According to the study, 45 percent of the 191 fish species in Lake Victoria are threatened or even thought to already be extinct. Lake Victoria is located between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Sometimes overfishing is the problem, thanks to Africa's growing population. In Lake Malawi (located between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania), the population of one important fish species, Oreochromis karongae, has declined 70 percent in just the past 10 years. The IUCN has listed the species as endangered since 2004. ...


Why, that glass is three-quarters full!

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Tue, Aug 24, 2010
from AP, via Washington Post:
Experts: Gators in northern waters probably pets
Two gators in the Chicago River. One strolling down a Massachusetts street. Another in bustling New York City. And that's just in the past few weeks. From North Dakota to Indiana, alligators are showing up far from their traditional southern habitats - including a 3-footer captured Tuesday in the Chicago River. But experts say it's not the latest sign of global warming. Instead the creatures almost certainly were pets that escaped or were dumped by their owners. "People buy them as pets and then they get too big and at some point they decide they just can't deal with it," said Kent Vliet, an alligator expert from the University of Florida who tracks media reports about the reptiles.... Vliet said such small alligators don't pose much of a threat to humans - preferring to dine on fish, snails, crayfish, frogs and small snakes - though they probably would bite if handled. "It's not like it's going to hunt you down," he said. The greater risk is to the reptiles, which probably wouldn't survive long in northern climates, experts said. ...


That's presuming there aren't, y'know, sewers.

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Wed, Aug 18, 2010
from YouTube, Mark Kirby:
Asian Carp leaping in the Wabash, near Montezuma, Indiana
...


Something about this isn't quite... natural.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
What Lies Beneath The Sea: Census of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life also points to the effect of so-called "alien species" being found in many of the world's marine ecosystems. The Mediterranean has the largest number of invasive species - most of them having migrated through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. So far, more than 600 invasive species have been counted, almost 5 per cent of the total marine creatures in the Mediterranean. Those annoying jellyfish on the Spanish holiday beaches may be sending us a message, or at least a warning. In recent years there have been other jellyfish "invasions". In 2007, 100,000 fish at Northern Ireland's only salmon farm were killed by the same "mauve stingers" that are affecting the Spanish beaches. The swarming jellies covered 10 square miles of water. In 2005, and again last year, Japanese fishermen battled swarms of giant Nomura jellyfish, each measuring six feet across and weighing 200kg. Once seen infrequently, they now regularly swarm across the Yellow Sea, making it impossible for Japanese boats to deploy their nets. One fishing boat capsized after the jellyfish became entangled in its nets. There is evidence that the global jellyfish invasion is gathering pace. As Mediterranean turtles lose their nesting sites to beach developments, or die in fishing nets, and the vanishing population of other large predators such as bluefin tuna are fished out, their prey is doing what nature does best: filling a void. Smaller, more numerous species like the jellyfish are flourishing and plugging the gap left by animals higher up the food chain. According to the Spanish environment ministry: "Jellyfish blooms have been increasing in recent years, and one of the suggested causes is the decline in natural predators - as well as climate change and pollution from land-based sources." ...


I'm so happy that I can choose to believe that our actions don't have consequences.

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Tue, Aug 3, 2010
from McClatchy, via PhysOrg:
As one non-native fish bears down on Great Lakes, notorious mussels spread across the West
Despite all the attention they've gotten recently, Asian carp are not the most dangerous invasive species to threaten the Great Lakes. Their impact pales in comparison to that of the quagga mussel, which first showed up in the lakes in the late 1990s and has become ensconced there. The mussels reproduce rapidly and devour plankton, disrupting the lower levels of a food chain that native species rely upon. "We're probably looking at one of the biggest invasions in the Great Lakes right now with the quagga mussels," says Gary Fahnenstiel, a senior ecologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Notwithstanding the dire warnings from politicians, Fahnenstiel says, should Asian carp make it to Lake Michigan they probably would have a difficult time competing with the quagga mussels for food. "They beat them to the buffet table, you might say," Fahnenstiel says. Also, while state officials argue about sealing the lakes from the Mississippi, the biggest threat is likely to come from the north, where the Saint Lawrence Seaway connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the 185 invasive species in the lakes hitched rides in the cargo holds of ships sailing through the seaway. ...


It's just hard to work up a fear-sweat about something called a quagga.

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Sun, Jul 11, 2010
from Associated Press:
Scientists roll out mats to kill Lake Tahoe clams
Scuba-diving scientists are unrolling long rubber mats across the bottom of Lake Tahoe coves in an attempt to quell a clam invasion that could cloud the world-reknown cobalt waters. The half-acre mats are designed to smother dime-sized nonnative Asian clams that can reach populations of 5,000 per square yard. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center run by the University of California, Davis, said the clams promote so much algae growth that they can turn some coves from blue to green. "They suck in the water and they filter out the algae. Their excretions are highly concentrated packages of nutrients," he said. ...


Unwelcome mats make clams sad.

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Fri, Jul 9, 2010
from CBC:
Toxic, invasive weed hits southern Ontario
Biologists and health officials in southern Ontario are scrambling to contain an invasive plant that can cause blindness and severe burns. Heracleum mantegazzianum, or giant hogweed, is a poisonous plant most recently found growing in Renfrew County, west of Ottawa. "The concern is it's a very poisonous plant, in the sense that if you get any of the sap from this plant on your skin, it can cause severe blistering and very bad burns," said Jeff Muzzi, manager of forestry services for Renfrew County. "If you should happen to get the sap in your eyes, it can blind you either temporarily or permanently." "You might not even know it's here, [just] walk into it and happen to break a leaf. The next thing you know, you've got these nasty burns." He said it can take up to 48 hours after exposure for symptoms to appear. ...


I bet Polynesian Hogweed Toads love this stuff! Let's bring 'em in!

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Mon, Jul 5, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Invasive "polluting plant" contributes to ozone levels
Kudzu - an invasive plant common in the southeastern United States - contributes to the production of ozone, and at its worst, may add as much as a week to the number of days when ozone levels exceed pollution limits in the region. Kudzu releases two key ingredients - nitric oxide and isoprene - that are important to making ozone, which is an air pollutant with known health effects. When researchers looked, kudzu-invaded areas had higher levels of nitric oxide compared to uninvaded areas... In areas of the country most vulnerable to changes in nitric oxide levels - Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee - the kudzu-related increase in ozone could add as many as seven additional high ozone episodes during the summer when ozone levels are highest. ...


Before long... we'll all be living in the kudzone!

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from Times of Malta:
Ships' ballast water adds a new alien species to the Mediterranean every nine days
Mediterranean states have started discussing measures to control the discharging of ship's ballast after scientists found that one alien species enters the Med every nine days, mostly with the water which the ships discharge after arriving from other regions. "The Mediterranean Sea is a world's major shipping area with more than 300,000 port calls per annum and more than 10,000 ships transiting this busy highway every year. Ballast water discharges by ships can have a negative impact on the marine environment," said Fréderic Hébert, Director of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC). "Large tankers and bulk cargo carriers, commonly operating in the Mediterranean, use a large amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded". There are hundreds of organisms carried in ballast water, including plants, animals, viruses and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to the aquatic ecosystem - generally referred to as alien or invasive species. ...


It's a small world, after all.

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Fri, Jul 2, 2010
from Joplin Globe:
Increasing numbers of Japanese beetles seen in Southwest Missouri fields, gardens
Hobbs' foe, Popillia japonica, commonly called the Japanese beetle, is on the march, devouring row crops, garden vegetables, ornamental shrubs and fruit trees along the way. "We've had the Japanese beetle in McDonald County for five or six years," said Hobbs, an agriculture and rural development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. "There are Japanese beetles in Newton County and as far north as Barton County. We are seeing them in Jasper County, too."... In Barton County, Jay Chism, an agronomy specialist with MU Extension, said the pesky plant eaters are appearing for the first time there in "significant numbers." "I always trap for insects, and this is really the first year that I've ever caught significant numbers in my Japanese beetle traps," Chism said. "Last year, I didn't catch a handful of them for the whole season. Last week, I caught 600 beetles in two days. Then four days later, I caught 1,100 more." ...


What's a couple orders of magnitude?

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Thu, Jun 24, 2010
from New York Times:
Asian Carp gets to threshold of Great Lakes
After months of worrying over hints and signs and DNA traces suggesting that Asian carp, a voracious, nonnative fish, might be moving perilously close to the Great Lakes, the authorities here have uncovered the proof they did not want. They caught a fish. One bighead carp -- a 19.6-pound, 34.6-inch male -- became entangled Tuesday in a fishing net about six miles from Lake Michigan, in part of a waterway that connects the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes. The authorities have searched for nearly a half-year with nets, chemicals and electrofishing equipment, but the fish was the first actual Asian carp to be found beyond an elaborate electric fence system officials spent years devising to avoid this very outcome.... Around the Great Lakes, where scientists fear that the arrival of Asian carp could upend the ecosystem, the discovery reopened a simmering fight. ...


But I had heard that carp-pooling was a good thing.

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Mon, Jun 21, 2010
from GISD:
The Global Invasive Species Database: 100 worst invasive species
Invasive species have been recognised globally as a major threat to biodiversity (the collected wealth of the worldís species of plants, animals and other organisms) as well as to agriculture and other human interests. It is very difficult to identify 100 invasive species from around the world that really are "worse" than any others. Species and their interactions with ecosystems are very complex. Some species may have invaded only a restricted region, but have a high probability of expanding and causing further great damage (e.g. see Boiga irregularis: the brown tree snake). Other species may already be globally widespread, and causing cumulative but less visible damage. Many biological families or genera contain large numbers of invasive species, often with similar impacts. Species were selected for the list according to two criteria: their serious impact on biological diversity and/or human activities, and their illustration of important issues surrounding biological invasion. To ensure the inclusion of a wide variety of examples, only one species from each genus was selected. Absence from the list does not imply that a species poses a lesser threat. ...


Invasive species are just friends we would never have otherwise met.

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Fri, Jun 11, 2010
from BBC:
Sudden oak death spreads across channel to south Wales
A deadly tree and plant disease first found in the UK in 2002 has spread to Wales, the Forestry Commission says. Spores of the fungus-like organism referred to as "sudden oak death" have spread across the Bristol Channel to south Wales, said the commission. In 2009 Japanese larch trees in south west England were found to be infected.... The organism, Phytophthora ramorum, gets its common name because it kills many of the trees and plants that it infects, the commission explained. It was first identified eight years ago on a viburnum plant at a garden centre and has since infected shrubs including rhododendrons, viburnums and bilberries. Last year's outbreak made south west England the only place in the world where it has attacked large numbers of commercially grown conifer species. ...


Those terrorists are hitting the Brits where it hurts -- their shrubbery!

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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from New York Times:
Going to War Against Grasshoppers
LUSK, Wyo. -- The duel began just after sunrise on Wednesday, at 150 miles per hour, 50 feet above the ground. Below: billions of voracious, recently hatched migratory grasshoppers, Melanoplus sanguinipes, shock troops of the worst insect infestation here in at least 25 years....Bug wars have long punctuated life in the nation's grassy midsection, but this year is an exclamation point. At least $25 million in hay, wheat and alfalfa alone in this corner of Wyoming is up for grabs, state officials say, to be eaten by insects, or saved. Huge areas of Montana and South Dakota are also at risk, especially from sanguinipes, the migrator, one of the most feared of 100 grasshopper species on the plains because of its startling mobility. In Wyoming alone, about 7,800 square miles -- an area the size of New Jersey -- is infested and scheduled for aerial treatment. ...


Thank goodness the chytrid fungus is preventing the follow-on "plague of frogs."

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Wed, Jun 9, 2010
from BBC:
Cane toad threat spreads beyond Australia to Caribbean
Cane toads, one of the world's most destructive invasive species, have started killing native wildlife outside of Australia. Cane toads are poisonous, secreting a toxin that kills predators not adapted to eat them, and as a result the toads have caused a decline in native Australian reptiles and marsupials. Now scientists have discovered that the toads are also killing boa snakes in the West Indies, suggesting that other predators in the Caribbean and elsewhere may also be at risk.... In the early to mid 19th Century, the toad was intentionally introduced to islands in the Caribbean, including Jamaica in 1844, and then through the South Pacific. The toad was introduced to eat and control pests of sugar cane, including rats and beetles. However, the toad has had a destructive impact in many places where it has spread, out-competing native species.... Now scientists have documented the cane toad killing rare native fauna in the Caribbean. ...


We cane, we saw, we canequored.

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Sat, May 29, 2010
from Charlottesville Daily Progress:
Creeping kudzu poses new threat
Researchers have found a new reason to hate kudzu, the much maligned and rapidly spreading invasive plant that is often referred to as the "vine that ate the South." Kudzu, a green leafy vine native to Japan and southeastern China, emits the chemicals isoprene and nitric oxide, which combine with nitrogen in the air to form ozone -- a pollutant that can be harmful to human health and crops, trees and other vegetation. A new study has found that kudzu is a significant contributor to surface ozone pollution and the problem is projected to grow as the vine continues to spread. ...


Soon, we shall call it the "vine that ate the planet."

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Thu, May 27, 2010
from Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
Scientists believe a European fungus is killing bats
The fungus can be found on the bat's nose, ears and wings. Hicks said one of the major problems it causes is that it eats away at the tissue in the bat's wings. Attempts to help the bats with anti-fungal agents have so far been unsuccessful, Hicks said.... Over the past few winters, some Adirondack bat caves and mines that have been affected include those near Lyon Mountain, Chapel Pond near Keene Valley and the Graphite Mine in Hague. The Graphite Mine was especially hard hit. This mine was the site of the largest-ever bat count in the Northeast in March 2000, when 185,019 bats were found there. However, this February, a survey found only 2,545 bats in the mine. That means the populations declined by 99 percent. Scientists believe the fungus geomyces destructans, which has existed in Europe since at last 1980, is what's killing the bats.... [T]his almost is certainly (the case of another) invasive exotic species.... "It spread as far this winter as it spread in the previous four years combined," Hicks said. "So it's not looking good." ...


Chiroptera unite! Geomyces destructans must go!

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Thu, May 27, 2010
from Scientific American:
Madagascar bird driven to extinction by invasive fish
A bird from the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar called the Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) has been declared extinct by conservation group BirdLife International. BirdLife contributed to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with a major update on the world's bird species, which was released on Wednesday. The grebe, previously found only on Lake Alaotra in eastern Madagascar, was driven to extinction in part by the introduction of snakehead murrel, a carnivorous fish, to the area. Fishermen's modern nylon gillnets, which caught and drowned the birds, also contributed to their demise. The bird was incapable of long flights, so it had a limited range and was vulnerable to attack. ...


Those snakeheads are good eatin'!

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Fri, May 21, 2010
from ABC News:
Dengue Fever Hits Key West
More than two dozen cases of locally-acquired dengue fever have hit the resort town of Key West, Fla., in the past nine months, officials from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Although not the first cases of home-grown dengue in the U.S., or even in Florida, the outbreak highlights the need for physician vigilance regarding this and other formerly exotic tropical diseases, the CDC said in the May 21 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.... Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquito bites. It can be debilitating, but is not usually fatal in otherwise healthy people. ...


Is there some region of Africa named "Key West"?

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Wed, Apr 28, 2010
from American Chemical Society:
Gypsy Moths Keep Fluttering
Nature gets a little out of control sometimes, and despite our best chemical efforts to level the playing field, we simply can't win. That's the case with the gypsy moth. This destructive insect pest has been plaguing the Northeast U.S. and parts of Canada for more than a century. A bevy of innovative chemical solutions has been devised over the years, but the moth continues to annually defoliate substantial tracts of forest and blemish suburban landscapes.... "The story of gypsy moth battles is an interesting one," Lance told C&EN. "It runs from spraying trees with heavy doses of lead arsenate a century ago to currently using relatively small amounts of a nontoxic sex pheromone to disrupt mating."... Another development in the gypsy moth war is the nucleopolyhedrosis virus (NPV), which infects only gypsy moth larvae, Lance told C&EN. NPV causes a "wilt" disease that is spread by larvae living in close quarters. The disease can reach epidemic proportions, killing up to 90 percent of the larvae in gypsy moth populations.... "That is why we had the symposium--to raise awareness for the need for better pheromones, pesticides, and pest-management tools. History shows us that the very act of discussing the problems, describing the needs, and visualizing the next level sets us on the path to developing it." ...


I bet nobody's tried high-volume Gypsy music, to make them dance themselves to death.

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Sat, Apr 24, 2010
from Living on Earth:
Carp Cuisine
Roughly 600 million invasive Asian Carp have made themselves at home in Midwestern Rivers. As officials struggle to keep them out of the Great Lakes, one local company has a solution. It's started to ship the carp back to China as food, where they're considered a delicacy... HARONO: Absolutely. Asian carp is viewed as a delicacy in Asia. The bones don't create a problem because we're used to eating with chopsticks and we spit the bones out. It's just sort of an educated mouth and tongue in how to eat these fish. And they're very tasty, so that there is a tremendous demand for this fish in Asia.... part of the marketing strategy is that we're marketing it as a natural fish grown wild in the Mississippi River and Illinois River that jumps out it has so much energy, so when you eat it you'll get some of that energy also. ...


Perhaps they could take our zebra and quagga mussels as well!

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Tue, Apr 20, 2010
from Greenwire:
Iconic Status Can't Spare Grand Canyon From Myriad Threats
From the rim, the Grand Canyon, 15 miles wide at its most expansive and a mile deep, looks like one of the wildest, most timeless places on earth... But a closer look reveals a canyon ecosystem that has been deeply altered by human forces. And today, the park is facing an unprecedented convergence of threats, the long-term effects of which are largely unknown... But as more and more people have followed Roosevelt's advice -- about 4.5 million tourists visit the Grand Canyon each year, compared to about 44,000 in 1918, the year Congress elevated the monument to national park status -- pressures on the unique environment have increased in ways Roosevelt likely could not have foreseen. A major upstream dam now regulates the Colorado River's flow through the park and has rendered the river unnaturally clear and cool. And invasive species like salt cedar and trout are crowding out native species such as willow and the endangered humpback chub. ...


Tourists: the most invasive species of all.

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Sun, Apr 18, 2010
from TrueSlant:
A Dying African Lake, Polluted, Overfished; Bad And Getting Worse
It was shortly after daybreak and a long, wooden fishing skiff crunched up on the stony beach here along Lake Victoria. Women who sell fish in the market in nearby Kisumu swarmed the boat. They grabbed slippery Nile perch and tilapia and tossed them into their plastic baskets. Then they began haggling. The catch that day was meager, and one woman came away with nothing. "The fishermen don't get enough fish," said Salin Atieno, 37. She has been buying fish at the Dunga landing for seven years. "There are not that many fish now." Lake Victoria, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, is suffering. It is polluted with raw sewage and it is muddy from the erosion of soil from nearby hills that have lost trees and shrubs to people in search of firewood. Like Lake Chad in West Africa and a few other lakes around the world, it has also been shrinking. Parts of Lake Victoria are clogged with hyacinths and algae. All of this has been thinning out the fish. "The lake is dying," said Dr. Raphael Kapiyo, the head of environmental studies at Maseno University in Kisumu, an East African trading post of a city with about 400,000 people. ...


Can we introduce some more invasive species? Ones that eat raw sewage, water hyacinth, and algae?

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Thu, Apr 15, 2010
from USDA/Agricultural Research Service via ScienceDaily:
Geraniums Could Help Control Devastating Japanese Beetle
Geraniums may hold the key to controlling the devastating Japanese beetle, which feeds on nearly 300 plant species and costs the ornamental plant industry $450 million in damage each year, according to scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The beetle, Popillia japonica Newman, can feast on a wide variety of plants, including ornamentals, soybean, maize, fruits and vegetables. But within 30 minutes of consuming geranium petals, the beetle rolls over on its back, its legs and antennae slowly twitch, and it remains paralyzed for several hours. The beetles typically recover within 24 hours when paralyzed under laboratory conditions, but they often succumb to death under field conditions after predators spot and devour the beetles while they are helpless. ...


Those must be Geronimo geraniums!

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Wed, Apr 14, 2010
from University of Washington via ScienceDaily:
Traumatized Trees: Bug Them Enough, They Get Fired Up
Whether forests are dying back, or just drying out, projections for warming show the Pacific Northwest is becoming primed for more wildfires. The area burned by fire each year is expected to double -- or even triple -- if temperatures increase by about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2 C) in our region, according to University of Washington and USDA Forest Service research... "The difference between now and our prior history is the magnitude of the impact," said Elaine Oneil, UW research associate in forest resources. "We basically have massive bark beetle outbreaks in the western U.S. and Canada over the entire extent of pines that are susceptible. We're seeing these massive mortality events of millions and millions of acres." ...


The trees' trauma may include grief for fallen comrades.

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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
from Michigan Public Radio:
Invasive Species and PCBs
New University of Michigan research finds invasive species are accelerating PCBs up the food chain. Recent dredging of the Saginaw River was intended to remove PCB contaminated soil. U of M fishery biologist David Jude says tests indicate the dredging worked. But he says walleyes are showing signs of increased PCB contamination. Jude traces the problem to two invasive species, zebra mussels and round gobies. "Zebra mussels filter a liter of water a day. They are removing a large amount of the algae out of that water," says Jude, "and as a result of that they are picking up a lot higher concentration of PCBs. There are some really outrageous high concentrations of PCBs in zebra mussels in the Saginaw River." Jude says as other aquatic life eats the invasive mussels, the PCBs move up the food chain. ...


Can we just call it unintended bioremediation?

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Sun, Apr 4, 2010
from BBC:
Non-native animals cause rural problems, charity warns
A number of non-native mammal species are damaging the UK countryside by eating crops and threatening wildlife, a conservation charity has warned. A report by the People's Trust for Endangered Species identified 14 problem species including rats, American mink and muntjac deer.... According to the report, two of the UK's fastest declining native species - the red squirrel and the water vole - which has declined by 90 percent - are under threat by mammals introduced by humans in the last two centuries. American minks prey on water voles while grey squirrels, which were introduced to the UK in the 19th century carry the deadly squirrelpox virus and outcompete the native red squirrel when it comes to hunting for food and habitats.... The report also warned that global trade and a changing climate could lead to the invasion of more alien species. ...


I'm confused: if the climate is shifting, what's invasive, and what's new-natural-environment?

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Sun, Mar 28, 2010
from London Guardian:
The trillion-dollar question is: who will now lead the climate battle?
Some of the planet's most powerful paymasters will gather in London on Wednesday to discuss a nagging financial problem: how to raise a trillion dollars for the developing world. Those charged with achieving this daunting goal will include Gordon Brown, directors of several central banks, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the economist Lord (Nicholas) Stern and Larry Summers, President Obama's chief economics adviser. As an array of expertise, it is formidable: but then so is the task they have been set by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. In effect, the world's top financiers have been told to work out how to raise at least $100bn a year for the rest of this decade, cash that will be used to help the world's poorest countries adapt to climate change. ...


Since nothing else has worked, I'd say let's give the antichrist a shot!

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Sun, Feb 28, 2010
from Living on Earth:
Here Comes the Sound
...Across the American West, millions of acres of forests are dead because of beetles about the size of a grain of rice -- the pine bark beetles. The beetles' range is expanding due, in part, to climate change. Warmer winters mean the beetles survive farther north and higher up. And drought weakens a tree's resistance. Forestry experts call it the largest insect infestation in North American history and warn some 20 million acres could be lost in the next decade or so. Now an unusual trio of researchers -- a sound artist, a scientist, and a student -- might have a powerful new way to control the beetles... why not use military control technology where they use acoustics to control crowds or Somali pirates to push them off. ...


Barry Manilow vs. the beetles.

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from Associated Press:
Feds outline plan to nurse Great Lakes to health
The Obama administration has developed a five-year blueprint for rescuing the Great Lakes, a sprawling ecosystem plagued by toxic contamination, shrinking wildlife habitat and invasive species. The plan envisions spending more than $2.2 billion for long-awaited repairs after a century of damage to the lakes, which hold 20 percent of the world's fresh water... Among the goals it hopes to achieve by 2014: finishing work at five toxic hot spots that have languished on cleanup lists for two decades; a 40 percent reduction in the rate at which invasive species are discovered in the lakes; measurable decreases in phosphorus runoff; and protection of nearly 100,000 wetland acres. ...


I know how to push that 40 percent to 100: just ignore 'em!

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Thu, Feb 18, 2010
from PhysOrg.com:
Australia's cane toads face death by cat food
Australia is beset by millions of [cane toads] after they were introduced from Hawaii in 1935 to control scarab beetles. After years spent trying to batter, gas, run over and even freeze the toxic toads out of existence, scientists say just a dollop of Whiskas could stop the warty horde. The cat food attracts Australia's carnivorous meat ants, which swarm over and munch on baby toads killing 70 percent of them. "It's not exactly rocket science. We went out and put out a little bit of cat food right beside the area where the baby toads were coming out of the ponds," University of Sydney professor Rick Shine told public broadcaster ABC.... "The worker ants then leave trails back to the nest encouraging other ants to come out there and forage in that area, and within a very short period of time we got lots of ants in the same area as the toads are."... "Even the ones that don't die immediately, die within a day or so of being attacked," Shine said, adding that native frogs were able to dodge the hungry ants. ...


What a purr-fect solution!

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Wed, Feb 17, 2010
from Chicago Tribune, via DesdemonaDespair:
Carp invasion 'catastrophic' for Illinois river towns
While Midwest lawmakers and the White House ratchet up efforts to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan, boating and fishing communities up and down the Illinois River are under siege. In Peoria and farther downstate, invasive bighead and silver carp are so abundant that they're out-competing native fish for food, disrupting spawning habits and injuring boaters and water skiers. In Spring Valley, an old coal-mining town 100 miles southwest of Chicago, signs proclaim the city the sauger fishing capital of the world. The Illinois River is so critical to the local economy and tourism that area residents say the town might cease to exist without it. "Losing the river would be catastrophic, at least," said Bill Guerrini, a longtime Spring Valley resident and founder of the town's Walleye Fishing Club. "That's what we're talking about here, the loss of the river. And, unfortunately, there are a lot of people who won't realize it until it's gone." ...


Old man river, he's tired of dying.

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Wed, Feb 10, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
On Easter Island and Asian carp
The story of the devastation of Easter Island is a compelling narrative, so next time the conversation wanes at a dinner party or in a bar, you can tell your friends all about it. This comes from author Jared Diamond (Collapse), whose recounting of the story first appeared in Discover Magazine in 1995. This tale gets more metaphoric every day... There's something delicious (so to speak) about a society that would destroy itself through -- in part -- the transportation of these statues. Food and warmth is one thing, but transporting statues seems superfluous, a symptom of a diseased magical thinking, and thus, well, just plain stupid. You'd think we've gotten smarter over the centuries, but this whole saga reminds me of the controversy surrounding the Asian carp and their inexorable march to the Great Lakes. ...


The gods aren't crazy; we are!

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Sun, Feb 7, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Asian carp discussion moves to Washington
A critical week in the battle against Asian carp kicks off Monday when Gov. Pat Quinn plans to meet with governors from Michigan and Wisconsin at the White House to hash out a plan to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes. Some think the Obama administration will use the occasion to introduce its own Asian carp attack plan, using the resources of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies. On Tuesday, lawmakers will debate proposed Asian carp legislation at a congressional hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. On Wednesday, attorneys general from Illinois and other Great Lakes states are invited to talk carp strategy with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will discuss carp control efforts and take recommendations from the public and stakeholders at a meeting in Chicago. ...


Ya gotta think the carp are having their own, high-level meetings, as well.

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Sun, Jan 31, 2010
from Washington Post:
Tough choices follow in wake of invasive species
Which is worse? Closing two locks on a waterway that's used to ship millions of dollars' worth of goods from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi basin? Or allowing a voracious Asian carp to deplete the food supply of native fish sustaining a Midwestern fishing industry that nets $7 billion a year? And how do you put a price tag on the damage caused by the Burmese python and other constrictor snakes that are strangling the precious ecology of the Everglades? Invasive species, long the cause of environmental hand-wringing, have been raising more unwelcome questions recently, as the expense of eliminating them is weighed against the mounting liability of leaving them be. ...


Why don't we just sit back, relax, and let these deck chairs on the Titanic re-arrange themselves?

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010
from Detroit Free Press:
Court won't close shipping locks to stop Asian carp
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-sentence denial today of Michigan's request for a preliminary injunction to close Chicago-area locks to keep out Asian carp.... The court hasn't decided whether to take that case, which sought to reopen a 1922 case arguing against the diversion of the Chicago River to create a shipping canal linking the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. Asian carp DNA has been found within a mile of Lake Michigan at a pumping station north of Chicago. The carp are considered dangerous because of their size and voracious eating habits. Gov. Jennifer Granholm called the court ruling "extremely disappointing."... "We cannot allow carp into the Great Lakes," Granholm said. "It will destroy our Great Lakes fisheries, our fisheries, the economy. It has to be stopped and it is urgent." ...


Too bad science is independent of justice, while implementation is dependent on law.

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Fri, Jan 15, 2010
from London Independent:
Voodoo wasps that could save the world
They are so small that most people have never even seen them, yet "voodoo wasps" are about to be recruited big time in the war on agricultural pests as part of the wider effort to boost food production in the 21st century. The wasps are only 1 or 2 millimetres long fully-grown but they have an ability to paralyse and destroy other insects, including many of the most destructive crop pests, by delivering a zombie-inducing venom in their sting... The researchers have decoded the full genomes of three species of parasitic wasp, which could lead to the development of powerful new ways of deploying these tiny insects against the vast range of pests that destroy billions of tonnes of valuable crops each year. ...


Genetics is a kind of voodoo, isn't it?

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Fri, Jan 15, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
The Vexing Bugs in the Global Trading System
... As global trade has mounted, more goods are coming in from overseas, sometimes bringing with them the accidental cargo of destructive bugs and plants. An estimated 500 million plants are imported to the U.S. each year, and shipments through one plant inspection station doubled to 52,540 between 2004 and 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Today, about 30 new invasive insects are discovered annually in the U.S., up sharply over the last decade, the USDA says. The yearly economic impact of invasive species in the U.S. is estimated at $133.6 billion, according to a study in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review in 2006. That includes the cost of control and prevention such as pesticides, inspection programs at ports and damage to crops. ...


We sure like to mix it up here in America!

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Fri, Jan 15, 2010
from London Independent:
42 tons of poison to purge island of rats
Lord Howe, an idyllic island off the Australian mainland, carefully conserves its natural treasures. The World Heritage-listed chunk of rock has strict quarantine laws, and limits the number of tourists who may visit. But its unique birds, insects and plants are under threat from an implacable foe: the black rat. Accidentally introduced in 1918 when a ship ran aground, rats are blamed for the extinction of five endemic bird species. Wildlife experts warn that 13 other native birds, two reptiles, five plants and numerous invertebrates are at risk. Rats are also a threat to the vital tourism industry, which relies on the island's pristine image.... Stephen Wills, chief executive of the Lord Howe Board, which administers the island as part of New South Wales, agrees that the plan -- which involves dropping nearly 42 tons of poison-laced bait from helicopters -- is radical. But there is no other option, he believes. ...


What could possibly go wrong with this?

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Thu, Jan 14, 2010
from EcoGeek:
Shipping Map Tracks Invasive Species Stowaways
Researchers at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany set out to crack the case of marine invasive species. Where are they coming from and how did they get there? They knew that many small species hitch a ride in the ballast water of cargo ships, so they plotted the course of 16,363 ships during 2007 to look for connections. Before now, it was assumed that invasive species were more likely coming from nearby ports, but researchers discovered that wasn't the case. They found that container ships follow regular routes, but oil tankers and dry bulk carriers often change routes. Container ships tend to travel quickly and don't spend long at port. On the other hand, oil tankers and dry bulk carriers travel more slowly, spend more time at port and exchange ballast water more often due to the fact that they spend a lot of time traveling without cargo, making them important to watch. From their analysis they were able to find the world's most connected ports which would be the most prone to the introduction of invasive species. They compiled a list of 20 with the top five being the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, Shanghai, Singapore and Antwerp. ...


With this map, we now know where to put the "no hitchhiking" signs.

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Wed, Jan 13, 2010
from Wildlife Conservation Society, via EurekAlert:
Tilapia feed on Fiji's native fish
The poster child for sustainable fish farming -- the tilapia -- is actually a problematic invasive species for the native fish of the islands of Fiji, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups. Scientists suspect that tilapia introduced to the waterways of the Fiji Islands may be gobbling up the larvae and juvenile fish of several native species of goby, fish that live in both fresh and salt water and begin their lives in island streams.... The team found that streams with tilapia contained 11 fewer species of native fishes than those without; species most sensitive to introduced tilapia included the throat-spine gudgeon, the olive flathead-gudgeon, and other gobies. In general, sites where tilapia were absent had more species of native fish. ...


Right! Non-native = invasive!

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Tue, Jan 5, 2010
from Inter Press Service:
Biodiversity: Invasive Species Multiply in U.S. Waterways
The U.N. says some experts put the rate at which species are disappearing at 1,000 times the natural rate, and invasive species -- which consume the food or habitat of native species, or the native species themselves -- are one factor contributing to this acceleration. Climate change is another major factor. "Often it will be the combination of climate change and [invasive] pests operating together that will wipe species out," says Tim Low of the Australia-based Invasive Species Council. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that 38 percent of the 44,838 species catalogued on its Red List are "threatened with extinction" -- and at least 40 percent of all animal extinctions for which the cause is known are the result of invasive species. ...


Why can't native species fight back? Are they wussies???

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Sun, Jan 3, 2010
from New York Times:
Fight Against Asian Carp Threatens Fragile Great Lakes Unity
Asian carp, the voracious, nonnative fish whose arrival near Lake Michigan is threatening to cause havoc in the Great Lakes, are now setting off strife on land as well. In an urgent effort to close down Chicago-area passages that could allow the unwanted fish to reach Lake Michigan, the State of Michigan is suing the State of Illinois and other entities that govern the waterways here. Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin have filed documents in recent days supporting Michigan’s move, and Indiana says it will soon do the same. The new rift between these Midwestern states, which would reopen a nearly century-old legal case in the United States Supreme Court over Great Lakes waters, comes at a particularly sensitive moment — just as the numerous entities with interests in the Great Lakes had united in what lakes advocates consider some of their most significant progress in decades. ...


It's the carp's intention to divide us. We can't let that happen!

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Tue, Dec 22, 2009
from Associated Press:
Mich. files suit in US high court over Asian carp
Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to sever a century-old connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system to prevent Asian carp from invading the lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery. State Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit with the nation's highest court against Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan... The lawsuit asks for the locks and waterways to be closed immediately as a stopgap measure, echoing a call by 50 members of Congress and environmental groups last week. But the suit goes further, also requesting a permanent separation between the carp-infested waters and the lakes. ...


Those Asian carp better have a really good lawyer!

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Sun, Dec 13, 2009
from New York Times:
Be Careful What You Fish For
Alarms are sounding near the edge of the Great Lakes. Genetic evidence of Asian carp -- a mammoth, voracious, non-native conqueror among fish, long established in the Mississippi River -- has turned up just a few miles from Lake Michigan in the waterway that links the river system to the lake. If such creatures were to swim on into Lake Michigan, some scientists say they fear the fish would ultimately upend the entire ecosystem in the lakes that make up a fifth of the earth's fresh surface water....The carp can weigh as much as 100 pounds, and the silver carp has a habit of jumping, seeming to challenge boaters as much as it does other fish. They eat pretty much all the time, vacuuming up the plankton that other fish depend on and crowding the others out. ...


C'mon, jump... Let's see who's the conqueror here!

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Sun, Dec 6, 2009
from Washington Post:
Fish kill called necessary to save the Great Lakes
The poisoned fish began floating to the surface in the cold Illinois dawn, but as scientists and ecologists began hauling their lifeless catch to shore, they found only one carcass of the predator they targeted -- the ravenous Asian carp. Never before have Illinois agencies tried to kill so many fish at one time. By the time the poison dissipates in a few days, state officials estimate that 200,000 pounds of fish will be bound for landfills. But they say the stakes -- the Great Lakes ecosystem and its healthy fish population -- could hardly be higher. ...


it's like cutting off our noses to spite our fish.

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Fri, Dec 4, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Galapagos Islands are transformed
The Galapagos archipelago has already been transformed by global climate changes and human activity, a report has concluded. A series of events, including the 1982 El Nino, overfishing and the appearance of urchins that destroy coral, has altered the islands' marine ecosystems. At least 45 Galapagos species have now disappeared or are facing extinction. That suggests future climate change driven by human activity will have an major impact on the islands' wildlife.... All live on the Galapagos, and most are found nowhere else. These 45 species include five mammals, six birds, five reptiles, six fishes, one echinoderm, seven corals, six brown algae and nine red algae. Among those is the coastal-living Mangrove finch, a species once studied by Charles Darwin. ...


Humans: the only evolutionary pressure that matters.

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Tue, Dec 1, 2009
from USA Today:
Invasive carp threatens Great Lakes
Fish and wildlife officials will poison a 6-mile stretch of water near Chicago on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to keep one of the most dangerous invasive species of fish, the Asian carp, out of the Great Lakes. The Asian carp, a voracious eater that has no predators and negligible worth as a commercial or sport fish, now dominates the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and their tributaries. The fish has entered the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal -- a man-made link between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes -- and is knocking on the door of Lake Michigan. Once inside a Great Lake, the carp would have free rein in the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, imperiling the native fish of the lakes and a $7 billion fishing and recreation industry....Asian carp now dominate many parts of major rivers, including the Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Columbia and Platte rivers. A survey in an offshoot of the Mississippi River near St. Louis found 97 percent of the fish were Asian carp. ...


They sound awesome! I'd pay just to see them!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Nov 29, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Carp battle not over yet
Biologist Duane Chapman knows as much about Asian carp as anyone in the United States, and he says that even though some of the giant fish apparently have breached an electric barrier protecting the Great Lakes, all is not lost... Chapman said the leaping, plankton-hogging fish that can grow to the size of an Olympic gymnast do indeed pose a dire threat to fishing and recreational boating on the world's largest freshwater system. But he said that at this point it is all a question about numbers. Will enough fish get into Lake Michigan to establish a breeding population? First, he said, the fish have to find each other. Then they have to find a place to spawn. ...


Maybe we'll luck out and they won't be attracted to each other.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Nov 21, 2009
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
Feared Asian carp may be near U.S. Great Lakes
There are signs Asian carp may have breached barriers designed to keep the prolific fish out of the Great Lakes, which could spell ecological disaster for the vital source of fresh water, authorities said on Friday.... Environmentalists say that if the fish reach the Great Lakes, about 20 miles from the barriers, they would quickly destroy the lakes' $4.5 billion fishery by consuming other fish and their food sources. Only Lake Superior among the five lakes may be too cold for the carp, which can reproduce rapidly and reach 100 pounds (45 kg). ...


Hey! Let's train 'em to eat quagga mussels!

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from Associated Press:
Jellyfish swarm northward in warming world
...This year's jellyfish swarm is one of the worst... Once considered a rarity occurring every 40 years, they are now an almost annual occurrence along several thousand kilometers (miles) of Japanese coast, and far beyond Japan. Scientists believe climate change, the warming of oceans, has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes. The gelatinous seaborne creatures are blamed for decimating fishing industries in the Bering and Black seas, forcing the shutdown of seaside power and desalination plants in Japan, the Middle East and Africa, and terrorizing beachgoers worldwide, the U.S. National Science Foundation says. ...


Quick! Flee from their gelatinous jaws!

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Mon, Nov 9, 2009
from Las Vegas Sun:
Quagga mussels a toxic threat to Lake Mead
...Years before they showed up in Southern Nevada, the little mollusks colonized the Great Lakes, and researchers there have found that the rise in their quagga populations correlates with increases in dangerous toxins. There are two reasons for this: poop and algae. Quaggas can poop poison pellets and can turn swaths of open lake into algae-filled dead zones. The scoop on the poop is this: Each mussel works like a tiny liver, absorbing toxins and heavy metals such as mercury, selenium, polychlorinated biphenyls (known as PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs) from the lake water in a process called bioaccumulation. But quaggas are not content to do a good deed. They later expel those chemicals and metals -- in the form of a highly concentrated pellet. Those toxic pellets sink to the lake floor. ...


Can we introduce some little portajohns for them?

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Mon, Nov 9, 2009
from PhysOrg.com:
15,000 reasons to worry about invasive species
Candy Dailey spent a Fourth of July holiday splashing with grandkids on the sandy shore of Lake Metonga when she felt a nasty sting on her foot.... the culprit was a zebra mussel -- cuts from the razor-sharp shells have become as unremarkable as bee stings since the mussels invaded Dailey's lake eight years ago.... The natives of the Caspian Sea region first turned up in North America in the summer of 1988, thanks to overseas freighters' long-standing -- and ongoing -- practice of dumping their contaminated ballast water in the Great Lakes, which are now home to more than 185 non-native species.... Now, this ecological mess is spreading inland. ...


Those critters will mussel in, one way or another.

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Thu, Nov 5, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
15,000 reasons to worry about state's lakes
...The natives of the Caspian Sea region first turned up in North America in the summer of 1988, thanks to overseas freighters' longstanding - and ongoing - practice of dumping their contaminated ballast water in the Great Lakes, which are now home to more than 185 non-native species. None has wreaked more damage than the [zebra] mussels, which feast on Great Lakes plankton and have cost the region billions of dollars in starved fish populations, beach-trashing algae blooms and plugged industrial and municipal water intake pipes. Now, this ecological mess is spreading inland.... Wisconsin has more than 15,000 inland lakes. ...


The United States of Zebra Mussels.

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Wed, Oct 21, 2009
from Daily Climate:
Forest's death brings higher temps, researchers suspect
Forests of dead beetle-kill could be speeding regional climate change, increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfalls across the American West.... [Tony] Tezak has watched in horror the past three years as mountain pine beetles have infested an estimated 900,000 acres of lodgepole pines in the forest. "The threat shows no signs of abating," he said. The infestation turns the pine needles brittle and leaves the dead trees pockmarked with hundreds of tiny boreholes where the beetles tunneled in to lay eggs and eat the moist inner bark. Tezak estimates more than a third of the national forest's 3 million trees could be dead by the time the current outbreak subsides. But there might be a more consequential impact to the carnage: The beetle kill could be accelerating regional climate change by increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfalls in Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico. ...


Yesterday... all our troubles seemed so far away...

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Mon, Oct 19, 2009
from International Rice Research Institute via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change Threatens Rice Production
...by using advanced modeling techniques, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has mapped rice-growing regions in the Philippines that are most likely to experience the negative effects of climate change, showing the extent to which climate change threatens rice production. Solutions to help farmers adapt are nevertheless available. Cyclone Nargis wreaked havoc on the rice crops and communities of Myanmar in 2008. Since then, IRRI has sent submergence-tolerant and salt-tolerant rice varieties for testing there as more resilient options for farmers. Massive rat infestations in Myanmar followed cyclone Nargis. Horrific rat infestations also occurred recently in Laos and Bangladesh, where the rodents ate up to 100 percent of rice crops, invaded house stores of food, bit sleeping people, and likely propagated disease. IRRI is hosting an international conference on rodents in rice to help find solutions. ...


And the RATS shall inherit the earth.

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Wed, Oct 14, 2009
from USGS, via EurekAlert:
Report documents the risks of giant invasive snakes in the US
Five giant non-native snake species would pose high risks to the health of ecosystems in the United States should they become established here, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report released today. The USGS report details the risks of nine non-native boa, anaconda and python species that are invasive or potentially invasive in the United States. Because all nine species share characteristics associated with greater risks, none was found to be a low ecological risk. Two of these species are documented as reproducing in the wild in South Florida, with population estimates for Burmese pythons in the tens of thousands.... In addition, he said, most of these snakes can inhabit a variety of habitats and are quite tolerant of urban or suburban areas. Boa constrictors and northern African pythons, for example, already live wild in the Miami metropolitan area. ...


Those snakes should have stayed on the plane.

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Thu, Oct 1, 2009
from Riverhead News-Review:
When dead trees attack
The woods along Flanders Road are filled with dead trees, and transportation and environmental officials worry that motorists may not be as fortunate in the future when trees collapse. The Pine Barrens Commission estimates that 14,000 acres of the 100,000-acre Central Pine Barrens region, which covers parts of Southampton, Riverhead and Brookhaven, are covered with dead trees. "There's something wrong with the trees and it's extensive," said Eileen Peters, a spokeswoman for the Sate Department of Transportation.... Cornell believes multiple factors have contributed to the oak die-off.... ...


Looks like we're not at fault! Just a natural phenomenon. Whew!

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Sat, Sep 26, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
UK warned as plague of bee-eating hornets spreads north in France
For five years they have wreaked havoc in the fields of south-western France, scaring locals with their venomous stings and ravaging the bee population to feed their rapacious appetites. Now, according to French beekeepers, Asian predatory hornets have been sighted in Paris for the first time, raising the prospect of a nationwide invasion which entomologists fear could eventually reach Britain.... If confirmed by further testing, the find will raise fears that the spread of the bee-eating Vespa velutina is no longer limited to the Aquitaine region near Bordeaux, where it is believed to have arrived on board container ships from China in 2004, and the surrounding south-west.... Neither pesticides nor traps have proved particularly effective, largely because the creatures nest high off the ground in trees. The Vespa velutina has no natural predator on European soil. ...


Not to worry -- their food supply will eventually just run out.

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Wed, Sep 23, 2009
from Greenwire:
Biodiversity a Bitter Pill in 'Tropical' Mediterranean Sea
Two weeks ago, a group of marine biologists from Israel's National Institute of Oceanography set sail from the country's central coast... They had a rich catch that night... pucker-faced dragonet fish, sprawling octopuses and brown crabs, snapping their claws. On the examination table, it seemed a display of the sea's bounty. Unfortunately, it was another sea's bounty. Almost all of the species Galil found that night were natives of the Indian or Pacific oceans. Lured by warming waters and a newly improved route through the Suez Canal, tropical marine species have enacted a slow march into the Mediterranean, displacing native species and disrupting ecosystems. ...


It's so much more ominous when they march.

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Tue, Sep 22, 2009
from Wyoming Tribune Eagle, from Desdemona Despair:
Beetle attack to change our [forests and] world
The tree looks alive, but it probably won't be for long. The brown cadavers of lodgepoles past stand among smaller, greener pines, testifying to the unavoidable truth: Change -- big change -- is coming. "The general feeling is this will end when the food supply runs out," Frost says. Looking out on the variegated landscape of greens, reds and browns, two things become clear. One: This is one of the biggest ecological changes we have ever seen. It's daunting and scary and -- for the experts -- exciting all at the same time. A plague of beetles, including one that just now is taking its turn, is cutting a swath through the national forests in north-central Colorado and into Wyoming. At the low end, it's possible that just 10 percent of large lodgepole pines will be left. It's also possible that they all will be gone. But other and smaller trees suddenly are being chewed up as well. Where that leads remains to be seen. The implications of all this are impossible to pin down, but they could affect each and every one of us. They possibly include an increase in global warming, large-scale wildfires and big changes in water supply. And then there is this fact: These forests will never look the same again. Two: This change is inevitable. Try as we might, there's no stopping it. ...


What a lot of carbon-offsets waiting to be planted!

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Mon, Aug 24, 2009
from via ScienceDaily:
Asian Clam Invasion Is Growing Fast, Lake Tahoe Report Finds
UC Davis' annual Lake Tahoe health report describes a spreading Asian clam population that could put sharp shells and rotting algae on the spectacular mountain lake's popular beaches, possibly aid an invasion of quagga and zebra mussels, and even affect lake clarity and ecology. The dime-sized Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea) that is the researchers' top concern this year probably has been in the lake for only 10 years, but it is already replacing native pea clams in lake sediments. In the areas where they are most numerous, Asian clams comprise almost half of the benthic, or sediment-dwelling, organisms, the report says. ...


I'll bet only the clams are pleased with this news.

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Wed, Aug 12, 2009
from New Scientist:
Stowaway insects imperil Darwin's finches
The famous Galapagos finches could be among the first casualties of mosquitoes that are stowing away on aircraft, potentially bringing fatal viruses to the islands. Live mosquitoes captured in the holds of aircraft arriving on the Galapagos from mainland Ecuador were found to survive and breed on the islands. Although none of the captured mosquitoes carried lethal viruses such as the West Nile virus (WNV) -- which decimated bird populations in the US after arriving in New York in 1999 -- they have the potential to do so.... Goodman and his colleagues found 74 live insects after searching the holds of 93 aircraft landing on Baltra Island in the Galapagos. Of these, six were Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, which transmit WNV and the parasite that causes bird malaria. Two more were caught in aircraft that landed on nearby San Cristobal. "The consequences for wildlife could be severe," says Marm Kilpatrick of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The findings are probably an underestimate of the true numbers of mosquitoes arriving, he says. ...


Maybe those mosquitoes will evolve different beaks!

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Mon, Aug 10, 2009
from Appleton Post-Crescent:
Relentless Japanese beetle invades Fox Cities
The Japanese beetle, an invasive bug that has caused gardeners grief for years in parts of Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country, is emerging in pockets of the Valley and spreading across Green Bay. About two years ago, the beetle was discovered near Riverview Country Club in Appleton, said David Bayer, a horticulture agent with the Outagamie County University of Wisconsin-Extension office. It's also been spotted in other areas of the Fox Valley. The invasive beetles attack more than 300 species of plants, killing grass, eating roses and turning tree leaves to lace. Vijai Pandian, a horticulture educator with the Brown County UW-Extension office, said the beetles are especially common on the city's west side. He said 25 traps placed last year netted 76,000 beetles. ...


76,000! Methinks we could use them as a bio-fuel.

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Mon, Aug 10, 2009
from Living on Earth:
Rock Snot
Algae blooms are usually problems for warm waters laden with excess nutrients. But they're now popping up in waters considered icons of environmental health — cold, clear, trout and salmon streams. The alga didymo is spreading quickly, -- it's better known by its nickname -- rock snot.... If the name rock snot is not bad enough, consider its appearance. It's often described as looking like a sewage spill with wet toilet paper streaming in the water... Amy Smagula, a biologist with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, walks to the river to pick up samples of the invader. ...


Excuse me, but doesn't "Smagula" sorta sound like a Latin term for "rock snot"?

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Fri, Aug 7, 2009
from Science, via Science Daily:
Scientists Find Universal Rules For Food-web Stability
New findings, published in the journal Science, conclude that food-web stability is enhanced when many diverse predator-prey links connect high and intermediate trophic levels.... Natural ecosystems consist of interwoven food chains, in which individual animal or plant species function as predator or prey. Potential food webs not only differ by their species composition, but also vary in their stability. Observable food webs are stable food webs, with the relationships between their species remaining constant over relatively long periods of time.... Applying this innovative modeling approach ... the scientists have succeeded in discovering not just one, but several universal rules in the dynamics of ecosystems. "Food-web stability is enhanced when species at high trophic levels feed on multiple prey species and species at intermediate trophic levels are fed upon by multiple predator species," says Ulf Dieckmann of IIASA. ...


OK: biodiversity, interdependence, and varied predator-prey relationships yield ecosystem stability. Good work! Now: what happens when we screw it up?

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Sun, Aug 2, 2009
from New York Times:
An Underwater Fight Is Waged for the Health of San Francisco Bay
...Every year the damage wrought by aquatic invaders in the United States and the cost of controlling them is estimated at $9 billion, according to a 2003 study by a Cornell University professor, David Pimentel, whose research is considered the most comprehensive. The bill for controlling two closely-related invasive mussels — the zebra and the quagga — in the Great Lakes alone is $30 million annually, says the United States Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force. Many scientists say that San Francisco Bay has more than 250 nonnative species, like European green crab, Asian zooplankton and other creatures and plants that outcompete native species for food, space and sunlight. ...


Then there are the darn scientists themselves poking around!

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Sat, Jul 25, 2009
from National Geographic News:
Alien-Wasp Swarms Devouring Birds, Bugs in Hawaii
Attacking from nests as big as pickup-truck beds, invasive western yellowjacket wasps in Hawaii are munching their way through an "astonishing diversity" of creatures, from caterpillars to pheasants, a new study says. Adult yellowjackets consume only nectar. But they kill or scavenge prey to deliver needed protein to their growing broods.... "They basically just carry it in their mandibles -- you see them flying with their balls of meat," said lead study author Erin Wilson, who just finished her Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego. In their native habitat in the western U.S., the wasps die off in winter. But in Hawaii the wasps survive the winter, possibly due to mild year-round temperatures or subtle genetic changes. ...


Wait a minute -- I'm meat!

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Mon, Jul 20, 2009
from USDA/Agricultural Research Service via ScienceDaily:
Controlling Kudzu With Naturally Occurring Fungus
Kudzu, "The Vine that Ate the South," could meet its match in a naturally occurring fungus that Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have formulated as a biologically based herbicide.... ARS plant pathologist Doug Boyette and colleagues are testing a fungus named Myrothecium verrucaria, which infects kudzu with an astonishing speed of its own. In fact, the fungus works so quickly that kudzu plants sprayed with it in the morning start showing signs of damage by mid-afternoon... ...


And by evening, the kudzu has mutated again!

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Fri, Jul 17, 2009
from Mongabay:
Florida announces python hunt following snake invasion
The population of Burmese pythons has exploded following its introduction into Florida's ecosystems by irresponsible pet owners in the early 1990s. Tens of thousands continue to be imported into the United States for the pet trade, including 144,000 between 2000 and 2005. The snake, which can reach a length of 26 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds, has decimated local wildlife, even going after alligators.... "They reproduce 50 to 100 eggs when they lay the eggs," Behnke said. "They have the ability to withstand different temperatures so there's a possibility they could move north. Now is the time to get started on this and try to prevent it before it becomes even a bigger problem." ...


Will they leave if we start calling them Myanmar pythons?

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Wed, Jul 15, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
Pine beetles continue to infest Alberta trees
Last winter's cold temperatures did kill some mountain pine beetles in Alberta, but it wasn't enough to reduce the threat of additional infestations, according to recent field surveys. "These results show we need more than cold winters to be successful in our fight against pine beetles in our forests," Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton said Tuesday in a release.... The objective is to minimize the spread of beetles north and south along the eastern slopes, and to prevent beetles from spreading east in the boreal forest.... Mountain pine beetles threaten the health of six million hectares of pine forest in Alberta, the release states. ...


Ah, to be a pine beetle, with such a smorgasbord in front of me!

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Tue, Jul 14, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Invasive species 'spread around world in ships' ballast tanks'
Creatures such as the Chinese mitten crab, which is on the rise in the Thames and other English rivers, have been able to establish themselves in new habitats after being transported from their natural homes in ballast water. Around 7,000 marine and coastal species travel across the world's oceans every day, a report for conservation charity WWF said. Some of them become invasive in new sites, breeding prolifically by "escaping" the predators or diseases which would normally keep their numbers under control, competing with local species, disrupting food chains or damaging habitats. The report estimated that in the last five years, invasive species have cost marine and coastal activities including fisheries, aquaculture, industrial infrastructure and harbours some ÂŁ31 billion worldwide. ...


It's like these ships are taking a giant crap on us!

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Sun, Jul 12, 2009
from via ScienceDaily:
Potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S.
Late blight, which caused the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s, is killing potato and tomato plants in home gardens from Maine to Ohio and threatening commercial and organic farms, U.S. plant scientists said on Friday. "Late blight has never occurred this early and this widespread in the United States," said Meg McGrath, a plant pathologist at Cornell University's extension center in Riverhead, New York. She said the fungal disease, spread by spores carried in the air, has made its way into the garden centers of large retail chains in the Northeastern United States. "Wal-mart, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart and Lowe's..." ...


Just so they don't charge extra for the spores.

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Thu, Jun 25, 2009
from Foreign Policy:
Climate change will soon be the world's greatest health crisis
... [C]limate change is also a public health issue, one whose profound effects on the lives and wellbeing of billions of people are just beginning to be understood. A major new report launched jointly by The Lancet and University College London, which I coauthored, has concluded that climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Our findings strongly suggest that health experts and advocates ought to be at the forefront of calling for action on climate change. Their help is urgently needed: plans need to be put in place immediately to manage the worst effects, requiring unprecedented levels of international cooperation.... As temperatures rise, there will be an increased risk of transmission of insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. As many as 260 to 320 million more people may be affected by malaria by 2080 as mosquitoes spread into newly warm areas. Pathogens also mutate faster at higher temperatures, making treatment more difficult. ...


Time to invest in Big Pharma?

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Tue, Jun 16, 2009
from New York Times:
An Unsightly Algae Extends Its Grip to a Crucial New York Stream
The Esopus Creek, a legendary Catskill Mountain fly fishing stream that is an integral part of New York City's vast upstate drinking water system, is one of the latest bodies of water to be infected with Didymosphenia geminata, a fast-spreading single-cell algae that is better known to fishermen and biologists around the world as rock snot.... Didymo has a natural tendency to grow upstream in fast-moving rivers and creeks, but it can spread by clinging to fishing equipment, especially the felt-bottom waders that fly fishermen use to keep from slipping on river bottoms.... Even more worrisome, when kept in a cool, damp place -- like the trunk of a car -- Didymo can survive for 90 days in a felt sole, Dr. Spaulding said. Didymo presents other mysteries. Its destructive blooms are not set off by excess nutrients in the water -- often from human byproducts -- the way other algae booms are. Didymo can bloom in waters that are nearly pristine. ...


Fishermen: boogers are not a good lure.

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Sun, Jun 7, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Nine alien insects to cause pain, illness and even death in Britain as climate warms up
Insects which harbour tropical diseases, inflict painful rashes and bites, and can even undermine the foundations of buildings, will become a growing problem due to climate change, scientists are predicting... Experts working for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have identified dozens of “nuisance insects” which will thrive. Many are native in the UK, including common species like the wasp and cockroach. However, the list also contains nine alien species which are either on the verge of invading Britain or have very recently arrived here. Among the insects the experts are most concerned about is the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).... nother insect expected to arrive in Britain soon is the Sand fly (Phlebotomus mascittii) whose bites can cause rashes and can transmit the flesh eating disease Leishmaniasis. ...


The apocalypse... is gonna be gross!

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Tue, Jun 2, 2009
from North Carolina State University, via EurekAlert:
When hosts go extinct, what happens to their parasites?
But what happens to the parasites hosted by endangered species? And although most people would side with the panda over the parasite, which group should we worry about more? ... For example, each fig species tends to be pollinated by a single fig wasp such that the loss of one should result in the loss of the other.... "The models suggest thousands of coextinctions have already occurred and that hundreds of thousands may be on the horizon. Yet we have observed few such events," Dunn says. "So we're not sure if all of these coextinctions are happening and not being tracked, or if parasites and mutualist species are better able to switch partners than we give them credit for, or something in between."... "There is a distinct possibility that declines in host species could drive parasite species to switch onto alternative hosts, which in turn could escalate the rate of emerging pathogens and parasites both for humans and our domesticated animals and plants," Dunn says. "Put simply, when a host becomes rare, its parasites and mutualists have two choices: jump ship to another host or go extinct. Either situation is a problem." ...


That's an ugly new form of "invasive species."

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Fri, May 22, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Reptiles in Europe more at risk of extinction than birds and mammals
23 per cent of amphibians and 21 per cent of reptiles are at risk of dying out. Most of the pressure the species in danger face comes from human destruction of their habitat, climate change, pollution and the presence of invasive species. The studies, released on International Biodiversity Day, also show that more than half of frog, toad, salamander and newt species (59 per cent) in Europe are suffering declines in their populations. And 42 per cent of reptiles are in decline, the IUCN said.... Dr Helen Temple, programme officer for the IUCN Red List unit, said: "Natural habitats across Europe are being squeezed by growing human populations, agricultural sprawl and pollution. "That is not good news for either amphibians or reptiles." ...


"Not good news" for humans much, either.

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Thu, May 14, 2009
from BBC:
Birds at risk reach record high
A record number of bird species are now listed as threatened with extinction, a global assessment has revealed. The IUCN Red List evaluation considered 1,227, or 12 percent, of all known bird species to be at risk, with 192 species described as Critically Endangered. The main threats affecting bird numbers continued to be agriculture, logging and invasive species, the report said. However, it added that where conservation measures had been put in place, bird populations had recovered. ...


Without birds, worms will take over the planet!

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Tue, May 12, 2009
from New Scientist:
World frog trade spreading killer diseases
Millions of frogs are shifted around the world each year for sale as pets and food. Now research shows, for the first time, that this global trade is spreading two severe diseases -- one of which is blamed for driving amphibians towards extinction.... "Considering the devastating impact Bd has had on global amphibian populations and the millions of animals being traded on an annual basis, this number is especially alarming," says Lisa Schloegel of the Wildlife Trust who led the work. "We may never completely know the extent to which trade has contributed to the global spread of amphibian diseases, but it does appear to be a major contributing factor." ...


Perhaps the thinking went: "If we spread the diseases thinly enough, over a long enough time, they'll lose their strength."

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Sat, May 2, 2009
from US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station via ScienceDaily:
New Southern California Beetle Killing Oaks
U.S. Forest Service scientists have completed a study on a beetle that was first detected in California in 2004, but has now attacked 67 percent of the oak trees in an area 30 miles east of San Diego. Their report appears in the current issue of The Pan-Pacific Entomologist and focuses on Agrilus coxalis, a wood-boring beetle so rare it does not even have an accepted common name. Scientists have proposed the Entomological Society of America common names committee call it the goldspotted oak borer. ...


That's too nice a name! Let's just call it an "ugly stupid bug" or something...

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Sat, Apr 18, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Swimmers feel sting as jellyfish thrive
Schools of creepy brownish jellyfish known for their painful stings are lurking in San Francisco Bay waving their long, poisonous tentacles like they own the place. Dozens, if not hundreds, of sea creatures known as Pacific sea nettles have been spotted in the bay feeding on small fish and plankton when they aren't stinging swimmers. One touch from a nettle's long, brown tentacles will result in a powerful, numbing jolt that can hurt for hours and sometimes days.... Biologists around the world are concerned about an apparent increase in the number and size of jellyfish blooms of all species. Studies are being conducted to determine whether the prevalence of jellyfish, which reproduce both sexually and asexually, has anything to do with global warming. ...


...and the jellyfish shall inherit the earth...

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Thu, Apr 16, 2009
from CSIRO Australia via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change May Wake Up 'Sleeper' Weeds
Weeds cost Australia more than A$4 billion a year either in control or lost production and cause serious damage to the environment. In an address given April 15 in Perth to the Greenhouse 09 conference on climate change, CSIRO researcher, Dr John Scott, said, however, that those cost estimates were only based on the damage caused by weeds known to be active in Australia. A recent CSIRO report for the Australian Government's Land and Water Australia looked at what effects climate changes anticipated for 2030 and 2070 might have on the distribution of 41 weeds that pose a threat to agriculture ("sleeper"ť species) and the natural environment ("alert" species). ...


Seems to me "sleeping" will be the only thing we'll want to do in the global warming future.

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Wed, Apr 15, 2009
from Grand Rapids Press:
Voracious goby extends its range to deeper water, threatening Great Lakes, scientists say
A half-century after alewives disrupted Great Lakes fisheries and trashed beaches, another invasive fish is engaged in a biological conquest of the world's largest freshwater ecosystem. The round goby is taking over large swaths of the Great Lakes and their connecting waters, according to scientists studying the invader. Gobies breed like rabbits and eat like pigs, causing profound changes at the base of a food chain that supports the Great Lakes $7 billion sport and commercial fisheries. New research conducted in Green Bay, Wis., found that gobies were hogging tiny aquatic organisms that other fish species need to survive. ...


Gobies hog like humans!

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Wed, Apr 8, 2009
from Charlotte Observer:
New beetle enlisted in fight to save Ky. forests
An aphid-like insect no bigger than an ink pen dot has been turning picturesque hemlock forests from Maine to Georgia into grotesque collections of barren trunks and broken branches. Despite foresters' efforts to stop them, woolly adelgids have advanced south through the Appalachians like an invading army, plundering the majestic evergreens. Having seen the carnage in other states, foresters in Kentucky are taking a new defensive tack, enlisting a species of predatory beetles native to the Pacific Northwest to devour the invaders. Can the tiny beetles, barely larger than poppy seeds, save Kentucky's hemlocks? ...


And if that doesn't work, they call always bring in the cane toads!

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Fri, Mar 20, 2009
from Associated Press:
One-third of US birds are endangered, says conservation report
Nearly one-third of US birds are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, according to a government conservation report. It says the findings are "a warning signal of the failing health of our ecosystems" and reports that birds in Hawaii, the most bird-rich state, are "in crisis". The authors say that energy production deriving from wind, ethanol and mountain-top coal mining is contributing to steep drops in bird populations. The State of the Birds report chronicles a four-decade decline in many of the country's bird populations and provides many reasons for it, from suburban sprawl to the spread of exotic species to global warming. In the last 40 years, populations of birds living on prairies, deserts and at sea have declined between 30-40 percent. ...


Canaries aren't the only birds in the coal mine.

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Fri, Mar 13, 2009
from Toronto Star:
Unstoppable beetles to kill every city ash tree
Toronto's ash trees could be gone in as little as 10 years, killed by an unstoppable beetle that is spreading rapidly across the province, the city's forestry czar says. "It's the elimination of a genus from this part of the continent, which is absolutely staggering," said Richard Ubbens, the city's director of urban forestry. "It will wipe out all ash trees." The emerald ash borer beetle, a shimmering blue-green insect native to parts of east and central Asia, has been eroding the ash population of the northeastern United States and southwestern Ontario for years. Larvae eat serpentine pathways just beneath the bark, which slowly cut off the flow of water and nutrients within the tree; death may take years...."There's no point in even trying anymore to eradicate it," Ubbens said of the beetle, noting that by the time an infestation is noticeable, the tree is beyond saving. ...


These badboys sound absolutely demonic!

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Sun, Mar 8, 2009
from Living on Earth:
Toward Healthier Waters
President Barack Obama has set aside half a billion dollars to clean up the Great Lakes. Many environmentalists - and some politicians - say the project is long overdue. The lakes are polluted with toxic waste that poison fish and endanger human health, and invasive species which disrupt the food web and the marine ecosystem... ...


Maybe we can bribe the quagga mussels into leaving.

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
States' patchwork ballast rules has a few holes
A battle to force overseas ships to stop dumping biological pollution in the Great Lakes is taking shape in the harbors of Wisconsin. The state Department of Natural Resources recently released a proposed set of ballast water discharge rules for oceangoing vessels that is far stricter than anything that has been adopted by any other Great Lakes state except New York. Ballast water is used to steady less-than-full cargo ships and is a problem for the Great Lakes because oceangoing vessels traveling from distant countries can arrive with tanks teeming with unwanted organisms. Those foreign species can wreak havoc on the environment when the ballast is flushed as cargo is loaded. Congress has been talking about a uniform national ballast law for the better part of a decade, with little to show for it. ...


Sorry... but I just crapped a pile of quagga mussels on your couch!

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Thu, Feb 26, 2009
from USFS, via EurekAlert:
Study finds hemlock trees dying rapidly, affecting forest carbon cycle
Otto, NC -- New research by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists and partners suggests the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing hemlock trees faster than expected in the southern Appalachians and rapidly altering the carbon cycle of these forests.... Eastern hemlock, a keystone species in the streamside forests of the southern Appalachian region, is already experiencing widespread decline and mortality because of hemlock woolly adelgid (a tiny nonnative insect) infestation. The pest has the potential to kill most of the region's hemlock trees within the next decade. As a native evergreen capable of maintaining year-round transpiration rates, hemlock plays an important role in the ecology and hydrology of mountain ecosystems.... The authors suggest that infrequent frigid winter temperatures in the southern Appalachians may not be enough to suppress adelgid populations. ...


But at least we'll have one fewer means of suicide!

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Wed, Feb 25, 2009
from Courier-Mail (Australia):
Human activity seen as a threat to marine echinoderms
CREATURES are falling victim to human activities, and scientists say it could interfere with the evolutionary process and lead to extinctions. Known as echinoderms, the species are essential for keeping ecosystems healthy and if their populations either crash or multiply, degraded seascapes may result.... "Each of these 28 cases was experiencing difficulties because of human activity, including over-fishing, nutrient run-off from the land, species introductions and climate change," Dr Uthicke said. "We suggest that human-induced disturbance, through its influence on changes to echinoderm population densities, may go beyond present ecosystems impacts and alter future evolutionary trends." In the Caribbean, sea urchins have died off and on the Great Barrier Reef an over-fished sea cucumber area closed six years ago has not recovered. ...


Starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, even sea cucumbers -- all the cute sea critters. Time for a save-the-echinoderms campaign?

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Sun, Feb 22, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Great Lakes scourge infects West
...Zebra and quagga mussels have been making a particular mess of the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy since they were discovered in the late 1980s. The filter-feeding machines have cost this region billions of dollars by plugging industrial water intake pipes, starving fish populations and spawning noxious algae outbreaks that have trashed some of the Midwest's most prized shoreline. For nearly two decades the western U.S. was spared this havoc. No more. The first quagga mussel west of the Continental Divide was discovered on Jan. 6, 2007. It was likely a stowaway hiding on the hull or in the bilge water of a Midwestern pleasure boat pulled across the Great Plains, over the Rockies and down a boat ramp at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, where a marina worker found some suspicious shells clinging to an anchor.... What took decades to unfold in the Great Lakes has played out in a matter of months in Lake Mead. Quaggas can lay eggs six or seven times a year in the warmer water, compared with once or twice a year in the Great Lakes. If you drained Lake Mead above Hoover Dam, says National Park Service biologist Bryan Moore, it would reveal that brown canyon walls that were mussel-free just two years ago are now black with quaggas at densities of up to 55,000 per square meter. ...


Quaggas sound like a possible renewable resource to me.

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from Mother Jones:
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us
Nowadays when species obey the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply, to fill the waters in the seas, to let the birds multiply on the Earth," all is decidedly not good. Proliferation on a biblical scale generally signals biological apocalypse, what scientists call invasion—the establishment and spread of introduced species in places they've never lived before. Species have always been on the move. But they've also been held in check by Earth's geographical barriers, like mountains and oceans. Today the rate of invasions has skyrocketed because of our barrier-hopping technology—jets, ships, trains, cars, which transport everything from mammals to microorganisms far beyond their natural ranges. The process is further accelerated by global climate change, that enormous human experiment unwittingly redistricting the natural world. The results devastate both planetary and human health—most disease organisms, from influenza to malaria, are invaders over most of their range -- and few invasions can be stopped once they're successfully established. Biological invasions are now second only to habitat loss as a cause of extinction -- the leading cause of the extinction of birds and the second-leading cause of the extinction of fish. Twenty percent of vertebrate species facing extinction are doing so because of pressures from invasive predators or competitors. In a classic example, brown tree snakes arrived in Guam (snakeless but for a worm-sized insectivore) sometime after World War II and systematically ate 15 bird species into extinction while consuming enough small reptiles and mammals to redesign the food web. They also began traveling an expanding network of power lines, electrocuting themselves and causing about 200 power failures annually. In all, invasive species are estimated to cost $1.4 trillion each year. ...


For some reason I can't hear what they're trying to tell us. What? Must be nothing.

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from New York Times:
The Unintended Consequences of Changing Nature's Balance
In 1985, Australian scientists kicked off an ambitious plan: to kill off non-native cats that had been prowling the island's slopes since the early 19th century. The program began out of apparent necessity -- the cats were preying on native burrowing birds. Twenty-four years later, a team of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Tasmania reports that the cat removal unexpectedly wreaked havoc on the island ecosystem. With the cats gone, the island's rabbits (also non-native) began to breed out of control, ravaging native plants and sending ripple effects throughout the ecosystem. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology online in January. ...


In the Battle of the Invasives, nothing wins.

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Thu, Feb 12, 2009
from Associated Press:
Africanized bees found in Utah for the first time
Africanized honey bees have been found for the first time in the Beehive State. The bees, long the subject of lore as "killer bees," were recently discovered in Utah's Washington and Kane counties, the state Department of Agriculture said Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that seven hives — three in the wild and four managed by private beekeepers — contained Africanized bees. The hives have since been destroyed. The bees in Utah do not appear to be widespread and no injuries to people or animals have been reported. State and local officials have been anticipating the bees' arrival since they showed up in Mesquite, Nev., in 1999, just a few miles from the Utah line. ...


Can't you just hear the drums building in the background?

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Sat, Jan 31, 2009
from Abu Dhabi National:
"The lake doesn't have a future"
Lake Victoria, spanning 68,800 square kilometres and three countries – Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda – is home to more than 30 million people, a population that depends on this body of water, even as they choke the life out of it. Godfrey Ogonda, an environmental scientist with the Friends of Lake Victoria, describes the assault on the lake as an "integrated" problem. It sounds innocuous enough until he explains that deforestation upstream is speeding soil erosion and washing excessive nutrients into the lake; unplanned settlements are pouring untreated human waste into the mix; overfishing is chronic; climate change is reducing rainfall and raising temperatures; and invasive species are attacking the weakened ecosystem... Named in 1858 after Queen Victoria, the largest tropical lake in the world is the reservoir of the mighty Nile river and it is close to joining the ranks of dying lakes. ...


Perhaps it's time to re-name it Lake Failuria.

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Tue, Jan 20, 2009
from BBC:
Sex smell lures 'vampire' to doom
A synthetic "chemical sex smell" could help rid North America's Great Lakes of a devastating pest, scientists say. US researchers deployed a laboratory version of a male sea lamprey pheromone to trick ovulating females into swimming upstream into traps. The sea lamprey, sometimes dubbed the "vampire fish", has parasitised native species of the Great Lakes since its accidental introduction in the 1800s.... This is thought to be the first time that pheromones have been shown to be the basis of a possible way of controlling animal pests other than insects. ...


I fail to see what is so new about this.

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Tue, Jan 13, 2009
from USDA Forest Service:
Top 5 invasive plants threatening Southern forests in 2009
U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Ecologist Jim Miller, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on nonnative plants in the South, today identified the invasive plant species he believes pose the biggest threats to southern forest ecosystems in 2009. "Cogongrass, tallowtree, and Japanese climbing fern are among the fastest moving and most destructive nonnative plant species facing many southern landowners this year," said Miller. "Rounding out the top five invasive species that I'm very concerned about would be tree-of-heaven and nonnative privets. While our forests are besieged by numerous invasive plants, these and other nonnative species present serious financial and ecological threats to the South and its forests in 2009." ...


When the Tree of Heaven is an invasive species, you know life is out of balance.

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Sat, Jan 10, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Destructive alien species being transported around the world by sea
[T]he cargo ships are unwittingly transporting larvae and tiny organisms that could cause damage to other species. This is because cargo ships take up water for ballast once they have discharged their load. When they arrive at the new destination the water is dumped -- along with any living stowaways on board. Over the years ships have transported comb jellyfish from the US to the Black Sea, where they have decimated fish stocks. The European green crab has caused problems in the US and Australia and Asian kelp has caused havoc in New Zealand, Europe and Argentina. In the UK the Chinese mitten crab and European zebra mussel are just some of the invasive maritime species transported by sea threatening native species. It is estimated that up to 10 billion tonnes of ballast water is transferred globally each year. ...


A billion tonnes here, a billion tonnes there, and pretty soon you're talking real problems.

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Fri, Jan 9, 2009
from Cheboygan News:
Biologist on the case of dipping smelt population
For years now, the spring smelt runs have been shadows of their former selves. Gone are the days when rivers and streams would run black, teaming with billions of migrating smelt. With only a few dips of the net, garbage cans could be filled with the tasty, bite-sized fish. Runs like those haven't been experienced in years.... From predatory demand to the introduction of zebra and quagga muscles to climate change, each theory has merit but needs some explaining.... "Based on my field observations, I can say this situation will not change any time soon," said Schaeffer. "We recorded very few smelt and the ones we did get were very small, too small for anglers to keep." ...


Based on our field observations, many situations will not change any time soon.

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Thu, Jan 1, 2009
from Science Daily (US):
Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction
The critically endangered Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) has suffered its worst breeding season ever, according to research by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). The number of chicks making it through to fledging has decreased rapidly, and it is now five times lower than it should be because introduced predatory mice are eating the chicks alive on Gough island -- the bird's only home and a South Atlantic territory of the United Kingdom.... "Unsustainable numbers are being killed on land and at sea. Without major conservation efforts, the Tristan Albatross will become extinct". ...


'Why look'st thou so ?' -- With my [mouse]-bow
I [killed] the ALBATROSS.

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Tue, Dec 30, 2008
from via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change Effects On Imperiled Sierra Frog Examined
Climate change can have significant impacts on high-elevation lakes and imperiled Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frogs that depend upon them, according to U.S. Forest Service and University of California, Berkeley, scientists. Their findings show how a combination of the shallow lakes drying up in summer and predation by introduced trout in larger lakes severely limits the amphibian's breeding habitat, and can cause its extinction... Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frogs need two to four years of permanent water to complete their development so repeated tadpole mortality from lakes drying up in summer leads to population decline. The scientists found the effect to be a distinct mortality mechanism that could become more important in a warmer, drier climate. ...


RIPbit

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Sun, Dec 28, 2008
from Purdue University via ScienceDaily:
Warmer Temperatures Could Lead To A Boom In Corn Pests
Climate change could provide the warmer weather pests prefer, leading to an increase in populations that feed on corn and other crops, according to a new study. Warmer growing season temperatures and milder winters could allow some of these insects to expand their territory and produce an extra generation of offspring each year, said Noah Diffenbaugh, the Purdue University associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study. ...


Pests prefer warmer weather just like people. Gee... we sure have a lot in common!

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Sat, Dec 27, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
It's 'attack of the slime' as jellyfish jeopardize the Earth's oceans
It has been dubbed the "rise of slime." Massive swarms of jellyfish are blooming from the tropics to the Arctic, from Peru to Namibia to the Black Sea to Japan, closing beaches and wiping out fish, either by devouring their eggs and larvae, or out-competing them for food. To draw attention to the spread of "jellytoriums," the National Science Foundation in the U.S. has produced a report documenting that the most severe damage is to fish: In the Sea of Japan, for example, schools of Nomurai jellyfish - 500 million strong and each more than two metres in diameter - are clogging fishing nets, killing fish and accounting for at least $20-million in losses. The Black Sea has suffered $350-million in losses. A region of the Bering Sea is so full of jellies that it was nicknamed "Slime Bank." ...


Move over you cockroaches. It's now the jellyfish who shall inherit the earth.

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Mon, Dec 22, 2008
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Beetle Epidemic Escalates
...Colorado is among the hardest hit areas in what entomologists are calling one of the largest insect infestations in North America's recorded history. Stretching from British Columbia to as far south as New Mexico, millions of acres worth of pine trees have been killed by mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) over the past few years. The trees' deaths pose ecological, social, and economic challenges. The threat of fire ranks among the biggest concerns, particularly as the rice-grain-sized beetles migrate from trees in sparsely populated higher altitudes to forests surrounding residential neighborhoods. This species of bark beetle is native to Western North America and infests trees as part of a natural cycle. Entomologists and chemical ecologists say several factors have contributed to the insect's recent population boom, including a 10-year drought that weakened the pines' natural defenses and winters warm enough that more of the beetle larvae can now survive. In areas where mountain pine beetle numbers equate to an epidemic, many trees are already dead. Simply removing the beetle-riddled arboreal carcasses is one of the only remaining options for controlling the epidemic, scientists say. Meanwhile, researchers are studying how the combination of other forestry management techniques and chemical tools may help save remaining trees from massacre by beetles. ...


Those bark beetles bite!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from Innovations Report (Germany):
Climate change: a dark future for migratory fish
In Europe, most migratory fish species completing their cycle between the sea and the river are currently in danger.... This study has shown that for most species the situation will deteriorate. For example, the smelt and the Arctic char will lose approximately 90 percent of the watersheds that are favourable for reduced or null gains. Only two species, the thinlipped mullet and the twaite shad, will be able to expand their territory towards the north, beyond their initial distribution area. Finally, in accordance with the predictions, the southern watersheds risk losing most of their species. ...


Maybe if you'd just stop moving around so much you'd have a chance to build a family.

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Sat, Dec 13, 2008
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
New online report on massive jellyfish swarms released
Massive swarms of stinging jellyfish and jellyfish-like animals are transforming many world-class fisheries and tourist destinations into veritable jellytoriums that are intermittently jammed with pulsating, gelatinous creatures. Areas that are currently particularly hard-hit by these squishy animals include Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the U.S., the Bering Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, the Black Sea and other European seas, the Sea of Japan, the North Sea and Namibia.... From large swarms of potentially deadly, peanut-sized jellyfish in Australia to swarms of hundreds of millions of refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the Sea of Japan, suspicion is growing that population explosions of jellyfish are being generated by human activities. ...


Refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the hundreds of millions? Is it possible they are now predator-free?

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Sun, Dec 7, 2008
from New York Times:
Groups Battle Exotic Species in Texas
AUSTIN, Tex. (AP)-- There was a time when horned frogs were not confined to Texas Christian University. The real-life version of the university's mascot, actually a kind of lizard, roamed Texas by the thousands until imported red fire ants marauded through the state, displacing the ants that served as the lizard's food. Today, university researchers blame the fire ant invasion and pesticides for devastating the horned toad population. The fate of the lizard is part of a larger story about invasive species -- a rogues' gallery of weeds, grasses, insects, fish and animals that are reshaping and in many cases destroying the natural order in Texas, and in many parts of the country. ...


You mean them communistic ants are hurtin' my horny toads?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Dec 5, 2008
from New Richmond News:
Invasive 'jumping carp' found in Mississippi River near La Crosse
This is the first confirmed identification of a silver carp upstream of Clinton, Iowa, and the first identified in Wisconsin waters. Fisheries supervisor Ron Benjamin of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said a single silver carp was among three species of invasive Asian carp discovered late last week in a commercial fishing net deployed in the Mississippi River near La Crosse. It was not immediately identified. Two grass carp and one or two bighead carp were also pulled from the net.... "Aquatic invasive species are detrimental to native aquatic ecosystems." ...


Leapin' Liz... um... carp, Sandy! This is arfin' ridiculous!

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Sat, Nov 29, 2008
from Chicago Tribune:
Scientists say they've found bacteria that will fight invasive mussels
Researchers seeking to slow the spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels in American lakes and rivers have found a bacterium that appears to be fatal to the problematic species without affecting native mussels or freshwater fish. The bacterium, Pseudomonas fluorescens, offers some hope for controlling the troublesome bivalves that are wreaking ecological and economic havoc in North American waters from the Colorado River to Vermont, and especially in the Great Lakes. But more testing remains to be done, and the bacteria could be used effectively only on a limited scale, said Daniel Molloy, the New York State Museum researcher who discovered the possible new use for P. fluorescens. ...


From the Great Lakes ... to the Ate-Up Lakes.

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Fri, Nov 28, 2008
from New York Times:
Asian Beetle Spells Death for Maples So Dear
[M]ost of the maples ... will be chopped down as early as next month because of an infestation of Asian long-horned beetles that is plaguing thousands of Worcester's trees.... When a tornado devastated Worcester in 1953, maples were planted as replacement trees. "Norway maples were readily available back then," said Brian Breveleri, the city’s urban forester. "And they were popular because they could weather the cold." But when Worcester plants new trees this time around, it will vary the type. A tree inventory, completed in 2006, showed that 80 percent of its street trees were maples, which the beetles find irresistible.... "Tree diversity helps prevent pests from gaining a foothold," said Mike Bohne... ...


Oh, that so-called "monocrop problem" again. As if Nature's diversity has anything to teach us.

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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
from Kalamazoo Gazette:
War on ash borer moves outside of Lower Peninsula
The native ash trees in Michigan's Lower Peninsula are doomed. Even $70 million in tax dollars has not been enough to defeat the shiny, green emerald ash borer, a beetle that hitchhiked to Michigan from Asia in 2002 and has since feasted on the state's ash-tree population. Michigan agriculture officials admit it's futile to enforce a Lower Peninsula quarantine designed to contain the beetle to identified "hot spots." The reason: Everywhere is a hot spot now in the Lower Peninsula. "If you look in Southeast Michigan, or the Kalamazoo area, you are hard-pressed to find any ash trees that are alive," said Kenneth Rauscher, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture's pesticide and plant-pest management division. "The future of ash is very, very dim." ...


Ashes to ashes.... dust to dust...

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Sun, Nov 23, 2008
from London Independent:
Invasion of the Aliens
British waters are being invaded by a wave of species making their way in from the sea, according to a new study. While foreign varieties of barnacles, brown seaweed and kelp may not sound dramatic, they are, in effect, slipping in under the radar, their progress hastened by climate change, according to Dr Nova Mieszkowska from the Marine Biological Association. Their arrival will add to pressure on native species already under siege by a range of marine invaders to Britain's shores such as the American red signal crayfish and the Pacific oyster. Some have arrived as a result of climate change, while others have made their way here on ships' hulls, in ballast water or through the global trade in aquaculture. ...


We have met the enemy and they are us.

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Tue, Nov 18, 2008
from New York Times:
Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West
...From New Mexico to British Columbia, the region's signature pine forests are succumbing to a huge infestation of mountain pine beetles that are turning a blanket of green forest into a blanket of rust red. Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse....In Wyoming and Colorado in 2006 there were a million acres of dead trees. Last year it was 1.5 million. This year it is expected to total over two million. In the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the problem is most severe. It is the largest known insect infestation in the history of North America, officials said. ...


If a tree is bitten by a bark beetle in the forest, can you hear it ... scream?

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Tue, Nov 11, 2008
from Census of Marine Life, via EurekAlert:
Marine invasive species advance 50km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
A rapid, climate change-induced northern migration of invasive marine is one of many research results announced Tues. Nov. 11 during opening day presentations at the First World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, in Valencia. Investigators report that invasive species of marine macroalgae spread at 50 km per decade, a distance far greater than that covered by invasive terrestrial plants. The difference may be due to the rapid dispersion of macroalgae propagules in the ocean, according to Nova Mieszkovska, from the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. ... "The impacts of the pressure of climate change are particularly dramatic, according to results presented at the Conference, in the abrupt deterioration of the Arctic and coral reefs" Duarte asserts. ...


Y'know, that's only 31 miles. Pfft.

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from San Diego Union-Tribune:
Drought, beetles killing forests
Bugs and diseases are killing trees at an alarming rate across the West, from the spruce forests of Alaska to the oak woodlands near the San Diego-Tijuana border. Several scientists said the growing threat appears linked to global warming. That means tree mortality is likely to rise in places as the continent warms, potentially altering landscapes in ways that increase erosion, fan wildfires and diminish the biodiversity of Western forests. ...


Treehuggers, unite! Your bosom buddies need you.

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Wed, Oct 8, 2008
from Union of Concerned Scientists:
Invasive Species are Costing Ohio, Report Finds
From the emerald ash borer to zebra mussels, invasive species are damaging Ohio's environment and economy, according to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The report says state and federal policies both need to be much stronger in order to prevent new species invasions and reduce the impact of harmful species that have already established themselves in the state.... Ohio is particularly susceptible to new species invasions because so many international products (on which insects and other pests can "hitchhike") are transported into the state on trucks and ships. The report documents existing data on federal and state spending on invasive species in the state and region, as well as on the damage done to economic activity. ...


This summer I hear them comin'...
Invading O-hi-o.


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Tue, Oct 7, 2008
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Chicago's electric carp barrier hits a snag
It's supposed to be the last chance to keep the Great Lakes from turning into the Great Carp Ponds, but the federal government's new electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is not doing the job. The $9 million contraption designed to repel the jumbo - and jumping - Asian carp was finished nearly 2 1/2 years ago. It was conceived in a desperate attempt to stop the fish that have already infested the middle of the continent from gobbling their way up a canal that is an artificial link between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes. ...


Protests staged by electric eels have prevented this from coming to fruition.

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Thu, Sep 25, 2008
from National Science Foundation:
Pine Bark beetles affecting more than forests
Scientists suspect they are also altering local weather patterns and air quality. A new international field project, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., is exploring how trees and other vegetation influence rainfall, temperatures, smog and other aspects of the atmosphere.... "Forests help control the atmosphere, and there's a big difference between the impacts of a living forest and a dead forest," says NCAR scientist Alex Guenther, a principal investigator on the project. "With a dead forest, we may get different rainfall patterns, for example." ...


What? The fingerbone is connected to the footbone?

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Mon, Sep 15, 2008
from New York Times:
On an Infested River, Battling Invaders Eye to Eye
Though awesome and even unnerving to behold, the fishy fusillade is all too common on the Illinois River -- and it is not good. These are Asian carp, a ravenous, rapidly multiplying invasive species that in the last decade has threatened the well-being of native fish, affected commercial fishing and transformed the typical workday for these researchers into a scene from "Apocalypse Now." The Illinois, a working river that supports both churning coal barges and great blue herons, is one link in a chain of waterways connecting Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. And the thought of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes haunts the dreams of environmentalists, business owners and government officials. That fishy downturned mouth; those unblinking, low-set eyes. ...


Cue Kurtz:
The horror... the horror....

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Tue, Sep 9, 2008
from New York Times:
Friendly Invaders
...It sounds like the makings of an ecological disaster: an epidemic of invasive species that wipes out the delicate native species in its path. But in a paper published in August in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dov Sax, an ecologist at Brown University, and Steven D. Gaines, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, point out that the invasion has not led to a mass extinction of native plants. The number of documented extinctions of native New Zealand plant species is a grand total of three. ...


This phenomenon is popularly known as an enviro-mashup.

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Sun, Sep 7, 2008
from United Nations University, via EurekAlert:
Experts meet on need for new rules to govern world's fragile polar regions
Problems forecast for the Arctic as its ice recedes include: Overfishing; Pollution from ships and offshore extraction of oil and gas; Oil spills; and Invasion of alien species carried by ships' ballast water. "Overfishing, the result in part of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, is already occurring in the Okhotsk and Bering Seas," says conference presenter Dr. Tatiana Saksina of the World Wildlife Fund's International Arctic Programme. "Agreements are needed now to regulate shared and straddling fish stocks and to protect fish migrating to higher latitudes in search of colder waters," she says. ...


Thinking ahead, instead of reacting after the fact? What are we doing, evolving?

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Wed, Aug 20, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
New sea change forecasts present a slimy picture
Earth's oceans are on the brink of massive change. You see it in such details as the hordes of Pacific mollusks that researchers have identified as ready to invade the North Atlantic as a thawing Arctic Ocean opens the way. You also see it in broad trends: A new overview warns that such relentless human impacts as overfishing or agricultural pollution -- as well as global warming -- threaten mass extinctions of marine life. Jeremy Jackson at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who made that overview, notes that this is "not a happy picture." He says that "the only way to keep one's sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on with it as quickly as possible." ...


Other ways to keep one's sanity:
denial, rose colored glasses, blaming the victim, changing the subject.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Aug 16, 2008
from Associated Press:
Worrying invasive snail found in Lake Michigan
"CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Scientists worry that a rapidly reproducing, tiny invasive snail recently found in Lake Michigan could hurt the lake's ecosystem. The New Zealand mud snail joins a long and growing list of nonnative species moving into the Great Lakes, threatening to disrupt the food chain and change the local environment." ...


You'd think the old invasive species would try keep any new invasive species from entering the ecosystem.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 13, 2008
from Associated Press:
Venomous lionfish prowls fragile Caribbean waters
"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters, swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region. The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere -- from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region's prime destinations for divers. Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp." ...


Aw jeez. That's so gross! Can't he at least take his time and enjoy his meals?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 8, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Invasion of the New Zealand mud snails
"They are only a few millimetres long, hard-shelled and humble. But the New Zealand mud snails have laid siege to four of the five Great Lakes and are threatening to invade rivers and streams, too. A Penn State research team says these foreign-intruder species that have long been a problem in the western United States could have the ability to change ecosystems in the East." ...


Kind of a reverse manifest destiny.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 4, 2008
from Associated Press:
Invasive species bills stuck in Congress
"Tiny foreign mussels assault drinking water sources in California and Nevada. A deadly fish virus spreads swiftly through the Great Lakes and beyond. Japanese shore crabs make a home for themselves in Long Island Sound, more than 6,000 miles away. These are no exotic seafood delicacies. They're a menace to U.S. drinking water supplies, native plants and animals, and they cost billions to contain. Yet Congress is moving to address the problem at the pace of a plain old garden snail. With time for passing laws rapidly diminishing in this election year, two powerful Senate committee chairmen are at loggerheads over legislation to set the first federal clean-up standards for the large oceangoing ships on which aquatic invasive species hitch a ride to U.S. shores." ...


Perhaps politicians are an invasive species.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 30, 2008
from Chicago Tribune:
Underwater, a disturbing new world
"In just a few years, the gravel and white boulders that for centuries covered the bottom of Lake Michigan between Chicago and the Door County, Wis., peninsula have disappeared under a carpet of mussels and primitive plant life... In the last three years or so, scientists say, invasive species have upended the ecology of the lakes, shifting distribution of species and starving familiar fish of their usual food supply." ...


Just so the Great Lakes are still great is what matters to me!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 29, 2008
from Telluride Daily Plane:
'The Worm' is spreading, and it's hungry
San Miguel and Ouray and Montrose counties are in the process of being invaded -- very slowly -- by Western Spruce Budworms that are sending waves of worry through the populace. After initially being spotted in Lawson Hill by a concerned homeowner, the worm has reportedly been spotted from Telluride to Ophir to Norwood. It's been called "the most widely distributed and destructive defoliator of coniferous forests in Western North America." ...


It's the little things that count.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jul 26, 2008
from Newsweek:
Beetlemania
"After ravaging 22 million acres of pine trees in Canada over the last 12 years, the rice-sized insects have been feasting their way southward. Their favorite meal: the majestic lodgepole pine, which makes up 8 percent of Colorado's 22 million acres of forests. Before landing in Beaver Creek, the pine beetles tore through neighboring Vail, Winter Park, Breckenridge and several areas around Steamboat Springs. So far, say state foresters, the beetles have eaten through 1.5 million acres, about 70 percent of the all the state's lodgepole pines. The tree's entire population will be wiped out in the next few years, Colorado state foresters predict, leaving behind a deforested area about the size of Rhode Island." ...


Majestic lodgepole pine... my, that does sound tasty!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 21, 2008
from Oregon State University, via EurekAlert:
Lionfish decimating tropical fish populations, threaten coral reefs
[T]his invasive species, which is native to the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean and has few natural enemies to help control it in the Atlantic Ocean. It is believed that the first lionfish -- a beautiful fish with dramatic coloring and large, spiny fins -- were introduced into marine waters off Florida in the early 1990s from local aquariums or fish hobbyists. They have since spread across much of the Caribbean Sea and north along the United States coast as far as Rhode Island.... "These fish eat many other species and they seem to eat constantly." ...


Maybe they should be called "humanfish."

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 15, 2008
from Muskegon Chronicle:
Zebra, quagga mussels cross Continental Divide
The Great Lakes' mussel pain has gone nationwide. European zebra and quagga mussels imported to the lakes by ocean freighters in the mid-1980s have crossed the Continental Divide and spread to California. This comes as the population of quagga mussels has multiplied dramatically in the Great Lakes in recent years, disrupting the fish food chain, fueling algae blooms that soil beaches and botulism outbreaks that have killed more than 70,000 fish-eating birds. ...


Uh-oh. The mollusk Mafia are
musseling in on new territory.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 9, 2008
from New York Times:
Corals, Already in Danger, Are Facing New Threat From Farmed Algae
Corals are being covered and smothered to death by a bushy seaweed that is so tough even algae-grazing fish avoid it. It settles in the reef's crevices that fish once called home, driving them away.... [I]ntroduced in the past three decades to 20 countries around the world from Tonga to Zanzibar and the result in most of them has been failure or worse. The alga K. alvarezii invaded the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in south India a decade after commercial cultivation began in nearby Panban. "No part of the coral reef was visible in most of the invaded sites, where it doomed entire colonies," the journal Current Science has reported. ...


Could be called the
kudzu of the sea.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 7, 2008
from USA Today:
'Invasive' humans threaten U.S. coral reefs
"Half of all U.S. coral reefs, the center of marine life in the Pacific and Caribbean oceans, are either in poor or fair condition, a federal agency warns today. The report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration places much of the blame on human activities and warns of further oceanwide decline. Reefs closer to cities were found to suffer poorer health, damaged by trash, overfishing and pollution." ...


Those pesky humans.
Can't live with 'em; can't live without 'em!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jun 28, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Bark Hopping: After branching out into Alberta, pine beetles take root
There were hopes that low winter temperatures in early 2008 would reduce Alberta's infestation, but in a downbeat assessment released yesterday, the officials said populations of the voracious tree pest remain high in several areas. "Pine beetles may be here to stay in Alberta," said Ted Morton, Sustainable Resource Development Minister.... "That's more or less the gateway to the boreal forest. If it progresses eastward from where it is now, it can move into Jack pine in northeastern Alberta, and from there, it's all Jack pine to Labrador," said Duncan MacDonnell, spokesman for the ministry. ...


PostApocaiku:
Hungry pine beetles
A silent, munching army
invading east, east


ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 25, 2008
from McClatchy Washington:
No bigger than a thumbnail, yet this mussel is a huge pain
With no natural predators and a high reproductive rate, the quagga mussel has become a growing worry throughout the United States, clogging municipal water pipes, taking food from native species and possibly stimulating the growth of the deadly bacteria that cause botulism.... The quagga — which is even hardier than its better-known cousin, the zebra mussel — started out in the Caspian or Black Sea, reached the Great Lakes in the ballast of ships, and in early 2007 hitched its way West on industrial and recreational boat hulls. The mussels, in densities of up to thousands per square yard, cling to boats, docks and even other shellfish... Scientists are especially concerned with the quagga's potential ability to invigorate toxic botulinum bacteria. The quagga mussels deplete oxygen from the water, creating ideal conditions for the bacterial spore, which exists naturally in the water, to vegetate and become dangerous. ...


... and the deoxygenated water is lethal
to most aquatic species.
They are as evil as their name sounds:
Quagga!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 22, 2008
from Green Bay Press Gazette (WI):
Fight against invasives remains fluid: VHS changes definition, views of battle
Dozens of dead panfish and bass seen floating on West Alaska Lake in Kewaunee County recently were not the result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia, but rather a common bacterial infection.... Instead, it was columnaris, one of the oldest known fish diseases and one that typically strikes following some type of environmental stress.... Gansberg said there are four aquatic invasives high on the local radar: Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed, zebra mussels and VHS. ...


Betamax would have solved the VHS -- perhaps a leaf straightener would solve the pondweed?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 17, 2008
from New York Times:
Tiny, Clingy and Destructive, Mussel Makes Its Way West
"...The mussel-coated debris is unmistakable evidence of an event occurring silently and largely out of sight — the colonization of the Colorado River by the quagga mussel, a fingernail-size Eurasian bivalve with an astonishing sex drive and a nasty reputation for causing economic and ecological havoc. Like the closely related zebra mussel, the quagga can cling tenaciously to hard surfaces, like the equipment of the many hydroelectric and water-supply plants along the lower Colorado. ...


Astonishing sex drives and nasty reputations usually go hand in hand.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 16, 2008
from ABC News (Australia):
'Cane toads with wings' heading north
Authorities say their attempt to raise public awareness about the threat of pest birds is being thwarted by a higher profile and far uglier amphibious pest... "The Indian miner is closely related to the starling. They are both in the same family and the Indian miner is probably an even more aggressive bird and it will actively compete with native species and displace them from their nesting hollows and food sources." He says cane toads have hogged the headlines for years at the expense of other destructive pests. "Cane toads are ugly and warty and people generally don't like them. Whereas birds, people have an affinity to them and they see them as charismatic animals. ...


Those swine.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 10, 2008
from The Monitor:
Dragonfly native to Mexico spotted for first time in Rio Grande Valley
Three types of dragonflies never seen before in the Valley made visits last week to Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, headquarters of the World Birding Center.... Rose, who has a doctorate in dragonfly ecology, said he's not certain why the dragonflies have come this far north and west. One possibility is that they're drawn to the park's resacas, which have recently been filled with more water. "Something funny is definitely going on here," he said, although he's not sure what it is. ...


Do you, Mr. Jones?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 9, 2008
from The Toronto Star:
Freshwater clams in shell shock
"Under seige from zebra mussels, habitat loss and pollution, this species is 'the most endangered animal group in North America.'" ...


Time to change that ol' idiom to: Sad as a clam.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 9, 2008
from USDA:
Elevated Carbon Dioxide Boosts Invasive Nutsedge
Elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) could promote the growth of purple and yellow nutsedge—quick-growing invasive weeds that plague farmers and gardeners in many states.... Both species displace native plants and reduce yields in a variety of important agricultural crops, including corn, cotton and rice. Purple and yellow nutsedge spread via rhizomes and underground tubers, and are extremely difficult to control. ...


We'll just declare war on these invaders.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008
from Polish Radio:
Dangerous ladybird species reaches Poland
The bug, which is a native of mid-eastern Asia, was introduced in Western Europe in 1997 as a natural method to control greenfly. However, the ladybird, which has a voracious appetite, has proved dangerous not only to greenfly but also to other European insects, its cousin included. It can also damage orchard fruit and vineyards, and its bite may cause an allergic reaction in humans. Polish researchers from the Academy of Sciences are trying to monitor the situation but they say that currently there are no ways of dealing with the insect. ...


Bitten again by that old bug, unintended consequences.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, May 24, 2008
from University of Florida via ScienceDaily:
Invasion Of Gigantic Burmese Pythons In South Florida Appears To Be Rapidly Expanding
"The invasion of gigantic Burmese pythons in South Florida appears to be rapidly expanding, according to a new report from a University of Florida researcher who’s been chasing the snakes since 2005." ...


And boy, do they have a taste for the snowbirds!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, May 16, 2008
from USDA Forest Survey, via ScienceDaily:
Window Of Opportunity For Restoring Oaks Small, New Study Finds
Communities of Oregon white oak were once widespread in the Pacific Northwest's western lowlands, but, today, they are in decline. Fire suppression, conifer and invasive plant encroachment, and land use change have resulted in the loss of as much as 99 percent of the oak communities historically present in some areas of the region.... "In areas where conifers have encroached into oak woodlands and savannas, about two-thirds of the remaining oaks were predicted to die over a 50-year period unless the conifers are removed," said Peter Gould, a research forester and lead author of the report. ...


In the slow-motion Conifer vs. Oak deathcage match, the pines are winning.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 6, 2008
from Planet Ark via Reuters:
Alberta Puts C$55 Million Into Pine Beetle Fight
"VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Alberta will spend C$55 million ($54 million) this year to stem the spread of pine beetles, which have ravaged forests in neighbouring British Columbia, the Alberta government said Monday." ...


Paying the pine beetles off won't work! They'll know they have us over a barrel then!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 30, 2008
from Gazette Online, IA:
Cedar Rapids preps for ash tree infestation
City arborist Matthew Nachtrieb is making it a priority to remove and replace stressed ash trees along city streets in anticipation of what is the certain arrival of a bug that has devastated millions of ash trees in states east of Iowa. Nachtrieb's notion about the now-notorious bug, the emerald ash borer, is no different from that of Robin Pruisner, state entomologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship: The emerald-colored pest first appeared near Detroit six years ago. Pruisner said the bug has appeared about 80 miles away in East Peru and LaSalle, Ill. It has spread to spots in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Illinois, including the Chicago area. It hasn't arrived in Iowa yet. But it will. ...


Why, no, I hadn't heard that millions of ash trees were being devastated by a new pest, had you?

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 26, 2008
from Brattleboro Reformer:
Baitfish limit irks fishermen
An emergency baitfish regulation put into effect last October has been supplanted with a permanent regulation to help prevent Vermont waters from a fatal fish virus called viral hemorrhagic septicemia. The disease, which may be the worst anglers will have to deal with in generations, can infect numerous species and spreads at an alarmingly fast rate. Experts believe a form of the strain arrived in the Great Lakes about eight years ago, however it was not detected until 2005 when thousands of fish died in Lake Ontario. Since that time, it rapidly spread through many lakes and streams in the Midwest and continued to kill large portions of fish. ...


Don't see what's so "irksome" about keeping a viral hemmorhagic septicemia out of the general population of fish for as long as possible. They'd rather see floating, dead fish?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Apr 13, 2008
from Contra Costa Times:
Bill to keep mussels out of lakes
"California, where water and recreation often mix, is struggling to devise a plan to defend its lakes and rivers from invasions by tiny quagga and zebra mussels, which threaten to wreak havoc on the environment and water delivery systems. An East Bay lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require lake and reservoir operators to develop plans to prevent boaters from inadvertently infecting new water bodies in California with nonnative mussels. The invasive mollusks can stow away in boats hauled from one reservoir to another. In a little more than a year, the mussels have infested the Colorado River and 17 reservoirs and aqueducts, mostly in Southern California but one in San Benito County." ...


We suggest instituting a photo ID requirement for these mussels.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 10, 2008
from Telluride DailyPlanet:
Fish kill possible on Fall Creek
Pink-bellied and dappled with black-pepper speckles, the Colorado River cutthroat trout once swam through 21,000 miles of rivers and streams across the West. But the fish are dwindling, threatened by invasive species, polluted streams and years of mining, and they now occupy only 3 to 15 percent of their old habitats. Efforts to replenish cutthroat stocks to Colorado rivers have a spotty record. But now, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Department of Wildlife are proposing a fish-kill in Fall Creek and Woods Lake to wipe out non-native fish and bring back the endemic trout. ...


We burned the river to save it.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Mar 8, 2008
from The Independent:
Invasion of the giant oysters
"The Pacific oyster was introduced to European coasts in the 1970s from Japan and British Columbia following the virtual collapse of the Continent's native oyster industry. The Pacific oyster was not introduced to Sylt, which boasted a formidable pre-war oyster industry, until 1986, and then only as a product that would be carefully farmed in an environment controlled partly by man....In 1995 the feral Pacific oyster population was about one oyster per square metre of tidal sand flat on Sylt. By 2004 the figure had leapt to nearly 500 per square metre. By 2007 the island's feral Pacific oyster count jumped to a staggering 2,000 per square metre. "What we are now experiencing is exponential growth of the wild oyster population," says Dr Reise. "We don't yet know where the process will end." ...


If only these giant oysters contained giant pearls

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 4, 2008
from PhysOrg.com:
Eastern Hemlock on the ropes from invasive species
"Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is an aesthetically and ecologically important species of tree found from eastern Canada to the Great Lakes states and south along the entire Appalachian mountain range. Since the hemlock tends to grow alongside streams, it plays an important role in regulating water temperature, and its loss could affect the many species of fish and insect life that inhabit mountain streams. The tree is threatened by the prolific spread of an exotic insect known as the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), which kills the trees in as few as four years. In the past decade, the hemlock wooly adelgid has infested more than 50 percent of the eastern portion of the hemlock's range, and the number is expected to grow because the adelgid, an introduced species from Asia, has no natural predators in North America." ...


"Where have all the hemlocks gone?"
Gone to heaven, every one...

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 4, 2008
from BBC (UK):
Loch Ken in crisis over crayfish
"A warning has been issued of a "looming" crisis on a Scottish loch due to the advance of a major predator. American signal crayfish, which can eat young fish and destroy their habitat, have been found in increasing numbers at Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway. Bob Williams of the Glenkens Business Association said the problem was having a "major impact" on trade in the area." ...


It's also having a "major impact" on Loch Ken's internal ecosystem... but I guess it only matters if Euros are involved.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 17, 2008
from Friends of the Earth, via Business Week:
Report Raises Alarm Over Superweeds
"As more acres of "Roundup Ready" crops are planted, the use of the pesticide has increased. The increased application has led some weeds to develop a resistance to glyphosate, the generic term for the chemical in Roundup. And, in turn, farmers have had to apply stronger doses of pesticide to kill the superweeds.... According to the report, the amount of weed-killing herbicides used by farmers has exploded, rising fifteenfold since biotech crops were first planted. The report lists eight weeds in the U.S. -- among them horseweed, common waterhemp, and hairy fleabane -- that have developed resistance to glyphosate, the most commonly applied pesticide." ...


Not surprisingly, elsewhere in the article, this headline:
Monsanto Profit Forecast Up.
The makers of Roundup are like heroin dealers, raising the junkies' resistance, so they can sell more, more, more.
Until the overdose.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 11, 2008
from Cambridge News:
Killer ladybirds are invading the area
"It may look like the delicate insect that has graced the nation's gardens for centuries. But the Asian harlequin ladybird is nothing like our gentle native species. It is a brutal killer which is set to wipe out Britain's 46 native species of ladybird due to its voracious appetite. Dr Mike Majerus, an academic at Cambridge University ... said: "The harlequin is very large, aggressive and out-competes our native species for food. And when it can't find aphids to eat, it will devour other ladybirds, as well as lacewing, butterflies and hoverflies." ...


In England they're called ladybirds, in the US they're called ladybugs, but either way, they are not very ladylike.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 17, 2008
from Associated Press:
Zebra mussel discovered in California
"HOLLISTER, Calif. - State wildlife officials say a destructive species known as the zebra mussel has been discovered in California for the first time. Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Alexia Retallack says a fisherman found the mollusks while fishing in the San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County. State officials plan to conduct further surveys to determine the extent of the infestation and develop a plan to stop its spread." ...


ApocHaiku:
for zebra mussels
there's no grey area as
they wreak destruction

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 15, 2008
from Associated Press:
Beetles may wipe out Colo. lodgepoles
"DENVER - Strands of distressed, red pine trees across northern Colorado and the Front Range are a visible testament to the bark beetle infestation that officials said will kill most of the state's lodgepole pine trees within 5 years. The infestation that was first detected in 1996 grew by half-million acres last year, bringing the total number of acres attacked by bark beetles to 1.5 million, state and federal forestry officials said Monday. "This is an unprecedented event," said Rick Cables, Rocky Mountain regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service." ...


And the beetles shall not just inherit the earth but take it by storm.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 14, 2008
from UPI:
Invasive beetle attacks redbay trees
"Tallahassee, Fla. A beetle imported from Asia is spreading around the southeast United States, leaving dead and dying redbay trees in its wake. The redbay ambrosia beetle is believed to have entered the country through Savannah, Ga., in 2002, probably in a wood pallet or packing case. It has spread into the Carolinas and south to Florida, where it was spotted for the first time last summer in Brevard County in central Florida, Florida Today reports. The beetle produces a fungus that spreads throughout a tree, eventually killing it. The fungus nourishes more generations of beetles." ...


This redbay ambrosia beetle reminds us of the retirees who invade Florida in their RVs or build their condos, negatively impacting the local environment.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Dec 9, 2007
from Xinhua (China):
Scientists: More than 20 species alien to China invaded country in last decade
"Wan Fanghao, an official with the ministry of agriculture, said some alien species have already caused disasters in the country. The American White Moth, native to North America and first detected in Northeast China's Liaoning Province in 1979, is threatening forests and crops in 116 counties of six provinces and municipalities in China including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Liaoning, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). The moth denude a tree, and consume vegetables and crops in days. It boasts a strong reproduction ability. A female moth can lay some 2,000 eggs in one go, and can breed 30 million to 200 million descendants a year, according to biologists." ...


Finally, something the US can export to China!

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