Monday, December 3, 2007

Week of December 2, 2007

Updated December 6


Birds Pushed to Extinction by Invasive Species

Relentless sprawl, invasive species and global warming are threatening an increasing number of bird species in the United States, pushing a quarter of them — including dozens in New York and New Jersey — toward extinction, according to a new study by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy.

The study, called WatchList 2007, categorized 178 species in the United States as being threatened, an increase of about 10 percent from 2002, when Audubon’s last study was conducted. Of the 178 species on the list, about 45 spend at least part of the year in this region. Full Article


Kudzu: A pollution problem?

By Brian McNeill /

Kudzu - the ubiquitous vine that covers shrubbery, trees, telephone poles and anything else in its path - may be pumping significant levels of pollution into the region’s air. University of Virginia researcher Manuel Lerdau and State University of New York scientist Jonathan Hickman believe that kudzu is emitting sizable amounts of ground-level ozone - potentially increasing smog, aggravating respiratory ailments and quickening the pace of global climate change. Full Article


U.S. House must plug leaks in ballast water rules

By Corry Westbrook, National Wildlife Federation

In less than two years, scientists found 13 new, potentially invasive species in the ballast water tanks of just 41 vessels entering the Great Lakes. None of the 13 had previously been found in those waters. The report, by David M. Lodge and John M. Drake with the University of Notre Dame, also confirms what many already knew: Ballast water is the most important source of new introductions into the Great Lakes, accounting for more than 64% of nonnative species. Once a species settles into the Great Lakes, it is often only a matter of time before it moves across the country. The evidence is clear that current ballast water regulations are not adequate in protecting U.S. waters from aquatic invaders. In the next few weeks, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will have the opportunity to do something about that, as it prepares to vote on legislation that would set national standards for ballast water. Full Article


Invasive Plants Coming to America - Overview of the U.S. National Early Detection and Rapid Response System for Invasive Plants

By Randy G. Westbrooks and Leslie J. Mehrhoff

Throughout history, as people colonized the Earth, they brought cultivated plants and domesticated animals along with them. Since European colonization of North America began in the 1500s, about 50,000 taxa of plants and animals (species, varieties, and hybrids) have been introduced to the U.S. While most of these species are well behaved and provide immense benefits to human society, a small percentage of them have escaped from cultivation and are a serious threat to food and fiber production and/or natural ecosystems. To date, about 4,200 species of introduced plants, or about 8.4% of total introductions, have escaped from cultivation and established free-living populations with the country. Recently, scientists at Cornell University estimated that losses to the American economy due to introduced invasive species are about $138 billion per year. Of this total, costs and losses due to invasive plants are now estimated to be over $50 billion per year. Full Article


N.J. researchers breed bugs to tackle pests

EWING, N.J. (AP) - A laboratory full of bugs might make some people nervous. But for Tom Dorsey, it's just another day on the job. "Nothing here bites, scratches or claws," Dorsey recently said at the 21,000-square-foot Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory he runs in Ewing. The state Agriculture Department lab, funded annually with about $1 million in state and federal funds, breeds beneficial bugs to fight invasive plant species and pesky insects that threaten the state's open spaces and agricultural crops. Full Article


Alternatives to Norway Maple

By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, UVM

Norway maple is an invasive plant you should not put in landscapes, and for which there are several good alternatives. This maple tolerates heavy shade, so establishes well in woodlands where birds drop their seeds. There, with their own heavy canopies, they shade out native wildflowers. Their shallow roots compete in forests with other less vigorous native vegetation.

Norway maple is an invasive plant you should not put in landscapes, and for which there are several good alternatives. This maple tolerates heavy shade, so establishes well in woodlands where birds drop their seeds. There, with their own heavy canopies, they shade out native wildflowers. Their shallow roots compete in forests with other less vigorous native vegetation. Full Article


New York State Declares Nassau County Free of Sudden Oak Death

New York State Acting Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), a disease that has killed oaks in the western coastal region of the U.S., is known to not occur in Nassau County. A bark sample from a red oak tree in the Tiffany Creek Preserve in Oyster Bay (Nassau County) was reported as positive for Sudden Oak Death in June 2004, however subsequent sampling and testing has proven negative.
"Although Sudden Oak Death has primarily been found in California and Oregon in the U.S., it is a great concern to our nursery and ornamental industries and forest health managers, because of the number of ornamental plant species associated with the spread of this disease," Hooker said. "I am relieved to know that this disease does not occur in Nassau County, however, we will continue to be vigilant in surveying for exotic plant pests to ensure a healthy green industry in New York State." Full Article


New York State Promotes Live Local Christmas Trees to Help Prevent Spread of Invasives

From an invasive species standpoint, real New York Christmas trees are an excellent way to prevent the introduction of invasive plant pests. New York trees take 7 to 10 years to grow and must be maintained in excellent health because they must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Trees grown under such conditions are naturally resistant to insects and diseases, and because real trees are grown here in New York, there is little chance of spreading pests from one area to another. Full Article


A Death in the Forest

This week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine features an article by Richard Preston titled “A Death in the Forest,” about the hemlock woolly adelgid’s (Adelges tsugae) spread through the Southern mountains and its implication for the forest ecosystem.


Invasive Rodent Spotted in New Jersey

Newark (AP) -- It's not the Jersey Devil, but its reputation is just as bad. A 20-pound rodent that scientists say is one of the world's worst invasive species has been spotted in New Jersey. State Fish and Wildlife biologist Andrew Burnett tells The Star-Ledger of Newark he saw one nutria (Myocastor coypus) swimming in Salem County's Lower Alloways Creek Township in late October. The critters are native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. But they've been showing up in North America. Burnett says nutria eat vegetation, causing animals and fish to lose their habitats. State wildlife officials are asking people who spot nutrias to report them so they can determine whether they're colonizing in the state.

Emerald Ash Borer in Dozens of Toronto Trees

TORONTO (AP) — The invasive emerald ash borer beetle, which has already destroyed ash trees in southwestern Ontario, has now been found in Toronto. Full Article


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