Monday, December 24, 2007

Week of December 23

Merry Christmas!

New office within New York State DEC to focus on invasive species

ALBANY, NY (12/26/2007)(readMedia) -- With invasive species proliferating throughout New York’s waterways, forests and farmlands, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today the formation of a new office within DEC to focus on one of the state’s fastest growing environmental threats.

The new Office of Invasive Species will bring together biologists and foresters to develop ways to combat the problem, and work with universities, other state agencies and non-profit organizations to support research and raise public awareness. From zebra mussels to Eurasian water milfoil to Sirex wood wasps, hundreds of non-native plants and animals have invaded New York – especially in the last decade, thought to be linked to the rise in global shipping – posing threats to ecosystems.

The new DEC office will involve biologists and foresters in developing ways to combat invaders, also working with universities, other state agencies and non-profits to support research and raise public awareness, the agency said. Headed by biologist Steve Sanford, it will have a staff of four.

Earlier this year, Governor Spitzer signed a law to create the New York State Invasive Species Council, comprised of representatives of nine state agencies and an advisory committee of business, academia and conservation interest groups. In addition, the 2007-08 State budget included $5 million for invasive species programs.

The new office also will aid efforts to craft an integrated map that pinpoints invasives in and near New York, create an information clearinghouse (within New York Sea Grant, a research organization) for invasives and work with the federal government. To find more information, go to DEC’s Invasive Species page on the Web:
News Release


Connecticut group urging program to cull deer

JOHN BURGESON, The Connecticut Post

Odds are if a Connecticut resident falls prey to an animal, it won't be from an attack by a shark, bear, copperhead or mountain lion. It will be a deer. Deer, according to a group trying to control the animals' numbers, can be the cause of death to motorists in the region or they can be the source of chronic illness by spreading Lyme disease. According to the Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance, Bambi's image is nothing to fawn over. The alliance aims to blunt what it feels are the dangers posed by large numbers of deer in the region by encouraging hunting — by professional sharpshooters or sportsmen. The group's goal is to get the population of deer reduced to the point where Lyme disease will be eradicated and vehicle-vs.-deer accidents will be greatly reduced. According to the alliance, there are far too many deer for the suburban environment to support. The alliance is sponsoring a study in 15 Fairfield County communities to determine the density of the deer tick population and the percentage infested with Lyme disease. "People don't understand the threat posed by the excess numbers of deer," said Dr. Georgina Scholl, the alliance vice chairwoman and spokeswoman, who maintains that Lyme disease can be eradicated in the state if deer numbers are brought under control. Full Article

Bloggers note: While the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a native species in Connecticut (and surrounding states) and as such is generally not considered to be invasive, it has to some degree become destructive in its native region, with negative impacts similar to those of invasive species. The deer population has increased greatly due to human development, which leads to an abundance of habitat edges where deer thrive. Also, removal of predators has allowed numbers to soar. White-tailed deer have a tremendous impact on their habitat because of their huge numbers and the amount of food needed to support this population. Large numbers lead to overbrowsing which affects forest succession and other ecological conditions. Thus, white-tailed deer are occasionally considered to be pests in their native range.


Flap Over Mute Swans in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (Boston Globe) — The Connecticut Audubon Society is asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove swans from critical marine habitats, claiming the graceful birds are invaders causing serious environmental harm. Defenders of the swans say any move against the birds is unacceptable. "If the DEP tries to target the mute swan, we'll give them a full-fledged war," said Kathryn Burton of East Lyme, founder of Save Our Swans USA. The group has sued other states that have tried to curb the swan's rapid population growth.

Connecticut Audubon plans to lobby state legislators to give state environmental officials authority to control the number of mute swans. In Connecticut, the swans are a protected species. "Mute swans may be beautiful, but the havoc they wreak is anything but," said Milan Bull, the Audubon Society's senior director of science and conservation. "They create a marine desert below the waterline and drive away native species."

Connecticut Audubon says the swan population totals more than 1,100, particularly along the shoreline, which is already affected by rising water temperatures and pollution. The mute swan is expanding inland where it has been spotted in Avon and Woodstock. New York and Rhode Island allow the shaking of eggs until they are no longer viable, but Connecticut forbids the destruction of eggs and the hunting of any swan. Full Article


Pennsylvania Announces New Invasive Species Council Web Site

HARRISBURG, PA – People can learn how Pennsylvania is protecting against invasive plants, animals and insects by logging on to the new Invasive Species Council Web site, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said today. The Web site can be accessed by clicking on “Invasive Species Council” under the Agriculture site list at


Study: Garlic Mustard Suppresses the Growth of Native Tree Seedlings by Disrupting Belowground Mutualisms

The impact of exotic species on native organisms is widely acknowledged, but poorly understood. Very few studies have empirically investigated how invading plants may alter delicate ecological interactions among resident species in the invaded range. We present novel evidence that antifungal phytochemistry of the invasive plant, Alliaria petiolata, a European invader of North American forests, suppresses native plant growth by disrupting mutualistic associations between native canopy tree seedlings and belowground arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Our results elucidate an indirect mechanism by which invasive plants can impact native flora, and may help explain how this plant successfully invades relatively undisturbed forest habitat. Link


Donation will help combat weeds on Maryland trail

A stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, Maryland is about to get a little cleaner, thanks to a donation by a trail advocacy group. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, a group that fights for the trail and its users, recently donated more than $20,000 to help Montgomery County combat non-native invasive plants along the popular path. Full Article


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