Monday, November 24, 2008

Week of November 23, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Single invasive mussel found in Maryland

By Candus Thomson,

For the first time, Maryland waters have been invaded by an alien mussel capable of fouling public water systems, destroying native aquatic life and causing millions of dollars in damage.

A single zebra mussel was scooped from inside a water intake pipe upstream from the Conowingo Dam that spans Harford and Cecil counties by a fish survey team on the Susquehanna River. The mussel, about a half-inch in size, was sent to a Pennsylvania laboratory for positive identification.

"Finding just one doesn't make sense," said Jonathan McKnight, an invasive species expert with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "When they show up, they show up with a vengeance."

McKnight says DNR staff will post signs at Susquehanna River launching ramps to remind boaters and anglers to report any sightings and to scrub their vessels and equipment before moving them to prevent unwanted hitchhikers. Link


Scientist says he may have bacteria to tame zebra mussels

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) - A New York State Museum researcher says he has created a non-toxic alternative natural means to kill zebra mussels, the invasive aquatic species that has taken hold in New York and covers the bottom of some lakes.

Using bacteria that the mollusks can feed on in small quantities, but which will kill them if they eat too much of it, Dr. Daniel Molloy calls it "a biological pesticide."

Expected to be available next year, it will be sold by the Museum’s commercial partner, Marrone Organic Innovations, based in Davis, Calif.

Earlier this year the company received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to commercialize the pesticide. The New York State Museum received $275,000.


Invasive plants threaten Florida's native species

By Steve Patterson, The Times-Union

In sand dunes by the St. Johns River, chain saws and squirt bottles became weapons to defend Florida's ecology.

Land-clearing crews crossed Buck Island in teams, some slicing through young trees as others sprayed herbicides to kill the fresh-cut stumps. Their targets were the Jacksonville island's 5,000 shoots of saltcedar, a fast-spreading Asian plant that long ago overran the American Southwest and is emerging on the Atlantic coast.

The project was organized by the First Coast Invasive Working Group, a collection of governments and landowners trying to control an explosion of plants that aren't native to the state. In some cases, foreign plants can crowd out native plants that birds and animals use for food or shelter.

About 1.5 million acres of Florida parkland and uncounted millions of private acres are covered with non-native plants, the state Bureau of Invasive Plant Management estimated last year.

The agency, part of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, tracked almost $25 million in state, local and federal spending in 2007 to control upland plants and another $16 million to fight aquatic weeds.

The First Coast group was set up to help land managers get money for local projects and make the most of their efforts, said Trish Gramajo-St. John, the group's chairwoman. Link


Earthworms’ Underground Invasion Threatens Forest Sustainability


Earthworms have long been considered a friend to farmers and home gardeners, playing a vital role in soil quality. However, recent studies have shown that glaciated forests in North America—forests that evolved without native earthworms--now face the invasion of European earthworms from agriculture and fishing.

This underground invasion has compounding impacts on the capacity of the soil to provide nutrients and sequester carbon—an important role as the world faces global climate change.

Kyungsoo Yoo, University of Delaware assistant professor of soil and land resources, and colleagues Anthony Aufdenkampe of the Stroud Water Research Center and Cindy Hale, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth, were recently awarded a three-year, $397,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative (USDA-NRI) to study the quantitative coupling of the ecology of European earthworm invasion--specifically in Canada, New England and the Great Lakes region--with mineral chemical weathering and carbon cycling.

Prior to colonization, the glaciated areas of North America were devoid of native earthworms. European earthworms were first introduced to U.S. soils when immigrants brought crops from their native lands, harboring earthworm cocoons. Worms made their way to the edges of farmlands and to the forests.

In addition, these glaciated areas are pocked with small lakes; fishermen often dispose of unwanted live bait, infesting areas where native earthworms were not typically found. Unpaved logging roads through these regions also assisted the spread of non-native earthworms, as compacted soil on tires disperses cocoons and live earthworms.

“Gardeners and farmers all appreciate the beneficial effect of earthworms,” says Yoo, “However, there were systems where worms didn’t exist before and, as we have seen with other non-native invasions, there are ecosystem implications.”

According to Yoo, 10 to 20 years ago, hikers in Minnesota’s forests noticed changes in the leaf litter layer. They noticed that the leaf layer was rapidly disappearing over the years. The researchers understand why this was happening, as Hale’s doctoral research showed that non-native earthworms were slowly eating their way into the forest, mixing the litter layer into the mineral soils in the process.

“Soil scientists and agriculturalists recognize the benefits of mixing organic matter with the mineral soil in production agriculture,” Yoo says. “However, in native forests the leaf litter is essential to the survival of native trees’ seedlings. The litter layer provides protection for temperature changes and deer browse. As earthworms invade and consume the leaves, the layer and therefore the success of seedlings, is compromised.”

He adds, “This relationship has been singled out as one of the most important factors impacting the future sustainability of forests in the glaciated areas in the U.S.” Link


Volunteers needed at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts

Maynard, Massachusetts - Volunteers are needed to help to help clear invasive plants from Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon.

A second session is scheduled for, Thursday, Dec. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Meet at the Hudson Road entrance to the refuge in Sudbury, about 2.7 miles west of Route 27 and just east of the Stow line.

For all refuge projects, work boots and gloves are recommended.

Please bring water, sunscreen and gloves and dress for cold weather.

Clippers, weed wrenches and saws provided. Herbicide will be used.

All dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and snow depth. Please call or e-mail in advance to confirm your participation and that the work party will take place at the time and date indicated. Contact Amber at or 978-580-0321.

For additional information about the Friends of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge events and volunteer opportunities, go to


Deer abundance is topic of talk

Connecticut - The Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance hosted its second fall seminar on the impact of deer overabundance recently at the Weston Public Library.

Chairman Patricia Sesto, Ridgefield representative to the alliance, introduced the expert speakers, saying, “Damage to our natural areas and the consequences to other wildlife are probably the least recognized negative impacts associated with deer overabundance.”

Dr. Emile DeVito, manager of science and stewardship at New Jersey Conservation Foundation, spoke of the loss of native vegetation below the browse line of five feet and the opportunity this browse line provides for non-native vegetation.

“If you want your forests to recover,” said Dr. DeVito, “you are going to have to reduce the deer population to single digits.” Once the forest is healthy again, which could take a decade or more, the forest can support 15-20 deer per square mile.

Dr. DeVito also spoke to the need to create seed banks within the recovering forest. He recommends fencing off plots within the damaged forest and replanting those with native species to provide the desired seed source.

He spoke about the need for a multi-layered forest of shrubs and saplings in the understory and mature trees in the canopy. “The dense shade that results from these multiple layers favors native flowers and discourages non-native species,” he said, adding a diversity of plants is needed to support a diversity of wildlife.

The multiple layers also contribute to more stable soils and less stormwater runoff, according to the alliance’s release. Soil compaction from deer “traffic” and accelerated consumption of leaf litter by an invasive Asiatic earthworm were also cited as contributors to more stormwater runoff. Link


Job Opening: Invasive Species Program Coordinator

Job Type: full-time permanent position

LOCATION: Summerland Key, Florida

DATE PREPARED: November 18, 2008

SALARY: $35,000/yr + benefits

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: The GreenSweep Invasive Species Program Coordinator participates in preserve operations including the maintenance, management and development and coordination of conservation programs. This may include one or more of the following functions:

• Leads work teams and supervises staff
• Coordinates community support
• Removes exotic plant species
• Maintains budgets, assists with grant reporting and grant writing
• Maintains tools and equipment



Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director
22601 SW 152 Ave.Miami, FL 33170
Phone: (305-547-6547 Fax: (305) 245-9797



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