April 27, 2003

Invasive Species

No, this is not referring to your new neighbors, or to America's new foreign policy.

Here is a weblog devoted to tracking the spread of non-native plants and animals that show up, and stay, and spread, and typically do damage to native species and ecosystems.

You may be aware of invaders to your lakes or pastures. Around here, we have multiflora rose gobbling up the edges of our pastures; in the deep south where I grew up, the world is being taken over by kudzu, imported as a possible cattle food and to stabilize channelized stream banks (thank you, Corps of Engineers). But do you realize that some American species become non-native invaders in other places?

The Red Swamp Crawfish has taken over the niche of a top feeder in aquatic food chains in Europe. But similar species introduced to Africa, where there were no native crawfish, may be responsible for lowering disease rates there, since they eat the snails that carry intermediate stages of several human parasites.

Posted by fred1st at April 27, 2003 07:06 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I battled Kudzu for 6 years in my yard in GA. It was a draw. I never could kill it, but I was able to stunt its growth by applying Roundup weekly for 3 or 4 weeks. That would slow it down drastically for a month or so, and them the cycle would repeat. You really can watch that stuff grow. If somebody can make a commercially successful grain out of it the worlds hunger problems could be solved.

Posted by: Chris at April 27, 2003 01:36 PM

Over here in England, the grey squirrel (imported, I believe, from the Americas) was always blamed for the decline in the numbers of our native red squirrels, but more recent studies seem to indicate that, although the above is partially true, it's more down to the destruction of the red's natural habitat.

Posted by: Woody at April 27, 2003 05:02 PM

Weird. I was just talking about crawfish with my son the other day. Had to print pics for him to color and everything.

Posted by: Da Goddess at April 28, 2003 01:38 AM

Rainbow trout, a native of the American West, pose a big threat to our native Brook Trout throughout Appalachia. Trout are very territorial, and the non-native rainbow trout are able to out-compete brookies in almost every environment. On the plus side, brook trout can usually eke out a living in the extreme upper reaches of most streams, where other trout will usually starve. So most trout water winds up supporting browns and rainbows down low, and brook trout up top. Add a little acid rain, a few dry summers, and increasing mountain top development to the mix, and things start looking might grim for salvelinus fontinalis, our little fish of the waterfall.

Posted by: ronbailey at April 28, 2003 06:16 AM

Bilge water in ocean going vessels, or so I hear, is a primary violator. They take small aquatic life from one part of the world and dump it far afield to compete in exotic ecosystems.

Posted by: Cody at April 28, 2003 09:53 AM

We lived within walking distance of Stanford University and the area around the campus has a unique hybrid of black squirrels. The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) and eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) are thought to have migrated west with the railroads and to the Palo Alto/Redwood City area with the spur Stanford built to ship coastal timber.

The Fox squirrel does have black coated variant in many parts of North America...but the Stanford squirrels are a cross breed of Sciurus vulgaris, black coated squirrels native to Southern Italy.

Various stories abound as to their origin, some say Mrs. Jane Stanford became enamored with the black squirrels while visiting Italy and imported them...or they escaped the biology labs...that they came in ships from Italy (Redwood City was a busy port during the Italian migration of the late 1900's)...no one really knows.

They are very bold and friendly...they've been unofficial mascots on campus and charming nearby neighborhoods for generations.

Posted by: feste at May 1, 2003 06:53 PM

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