Monday, August 24, 2009

Week of August 24, 2009

New invasive species found in Oneida Lake, NY

Posted by David Figura/The Post-Standard

shrimpResearchers at Cornell University Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point Friday announced the presence of a new, invasive species in Oneida Lake.

They said more than a dozen Hemimysis anomala, a small mysid shrimp, also known as "bloody red shrimp," were identified by workers Thursday in the stomach of a white perch. On average these shrimp, which were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 2006, are about the size of a fingernail.

It is not known what impact, if any, they will have on Oneida Lake's fishery or food chain. There's currently an ongoing study of their presence in the Great Lakes, but no conclusions have been drawn yet, said Lars Rustam, director of the field station in Bridgeport.

"To my knowledge, this the first time this species has been identified in an inland lake in this country outside of the Great Lakes," he said. For more, see Saturday's Post-Standard.

Link to article

Photo courtesy of Cornell University Biological Field Station.


The Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel needs photos by September 30

The NEANS panel is requesting your help. We need high quality digital photos (photographs should be at least 1200 × 1200 pixels in size) for the NEANS On-line Guide. Please read the original e-mail below for a full explanation. We’re looking for high quality photos of the following species:


1. Botrylloides violaceus (sheath tunicate)

2. Botryllus schlosseri (star tunicate)

3. Styela clava (club tunicate)

4. Didemnum vexillum

5. Hemigrapsus sanguineus (Asian shore crab)

6. Carcinus maenas (green crab)

7. Grateloupia turuturu (red algae)

8. Eriocheir sinensis (mitten crab)

9. Lionfish

10. Diadumene lineata (orange-striped anemone)


1. Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian watermilfoil)

2. Myriophyllum heterophyllum (variable-leaf watermilfoil)

3. Dreissena polymorpha and D. rosteriformis bugensis (zebra and quagga mussel)

4. Hydrilla verticillata (hydrilla)

5. Trapa natans (water chestnut)

6. Orconectes rusticus (rusty crayfish)

7. Bythotrephes longimanus and Cercopagis pengoi (spiny and fishhook water flea)

8. Channa argus (northern snakehead)

9. Neogobius melanostomus (round goby)

10. Egeria densa (Brazilian elodea)

Please don’t e-mail the photos; instead upload them to the NEANS FTP website: FTP://onlineguide:pictures[at]

The deadline is September 30.

Thank you all for your assistance.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Week of August 10, 2009

Updated August 13

Mile-a-Minute vine spotted in Norwalk, CT

By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer

mileaminuteAn invasive species of plant has invaded Norwalk, and officials are warning residents to take action. While the Mile-a-minute vine might recall images of ivy-covered buildings, it's hardly an innocuous plant species.

"The plant is called the Mile-a-minute vine--or devil's tearthumb--because it prolifically grows up to six inches in a single day, overwhelming other species by blocking the sunlight and by the sheer weight of the weed's leaves and stems," said Marvin Moss, Norwalk Tree Alliance spokesman. "Christmas tree farms are vulnerable. So are seedlings planted for forestry regeneration and even nurseries and farmland."

The tree-killing vine has been located on Sheffield Island, on private property on Blue Mountain Road, and in the easement for the power lines of the Connecticut Light & Power Co. substation on East Rocks Road, according to the Tree Alliance.

Periscaria perfoliata -- the Latin name of the plant -- originated in Japan. It has been spread over the years in the United States by birds and ants. The vine is identifiable by its light green triangular-shaped leaves, small curved barbs on the stems and the saucer-shaped leaves.

It is generally found on the edges of woods, wetlands, stream banks, roadsides and uncultivated open fields. The vine attaches itself to other plants with its barbs, and extends upward to capture light. Flowers and deep blue berries emerge each season.

The Mile-a-minute vine poses danger for both public and private trees, according to Dave Tracy, president of the Norwalk Tree Alliance.

"It's a real sunlight hog," Tracy said. "We are hopeful that Norwalk's residents will help us to spot any infestations, so the spread of the vine can be minimized or even reversed."

The Mile-a-minute vine also has been reported in Stamford, Greenwich, Westport, Weston and Monroe. Early detection and rapid response can lessen the ecological damage of the Mile-a-minute vine, according to Logan Senack, invasive plant coordinator at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

"Finding populations early can make control and removal much easier, less expensive and less time-consuming," Senack said.

Harold F. Alvord, Norwalk's tree warden and director of public works, said the vine "poses a significant threat to the progress the city has made over the past few years to enhance the health and vitality of the urban forest." The vine can overtake a tree in a single season, he said.

"We urge residents to report any sightings," Alvord said.

Reports can be made to the Norwalk Customer Service Center online at, or by calling the center at (203) 854-3200.

Photo source:


Mass. bill would protect lakes

By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD, MA -- When state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing filed a bill in June regarding invasive species in lakes and ponds, it might have seemed quaint.

But two months later, with zebra mussels in Laurel Lake, Downing suddenly seems downright prescient.

Downing, along with state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox and lake association members from central and western Massachusetts, testified on the bill on Thursday at the Statehouse. From there, it could move on and eventually become law.

The bill would target anyone launching a contaminated boat -- or someone who fails to disinfect their boat within 30 days of launching into contaminated waters -- into the state's lakes and ponds.

According to the proposed legislation, penalties could entail a fine between $50 and $300, imprisonment for up to 60 days, or both.

"[Senate Bill] 2113 aims to halt the spread of aquatic, invasive species throughout our lakes and ponds," Downing said in his testimony. "The bill is especially timely due to the recent discovery of zebra mussels in Laurel Lake, resulting in public boat ramp closures throughout the Berkshires."

The discovery of the zebra mussels in the Lee lake last month has worried many town officials. Up to 700,000 zebra mussels can occupy a square yard, and the razor-sharp organisms can cripple a boat's motor or intake pipes. Furthermore, the infestation overtakes a lake's ecosystem, as the mussels quickly suck up all the water's nutrients.

Downing told The Eagle that when crafting this bill, he looked to states such as Maine, Connecticut, and Minnesota for reference. That said, with Maine's fines reaching up to $5,000, Downing said that he aimed for the lower end of the spectrum.

"The goal is not to fine people, it is to let people know of the challenges we face and to induce people to use our lakes in a sustainable fashion," he said. "It's about sharing in the responsibility of keeping our lakes and ponds as clean as possible."

Yet with resources stretched thin -- and the Massachusetts Environmental Police, the entity most likely to pursue offenders, only having 83 personnel statewide and just six officers operating in the Berkshires -- Downing admitted that the bill was only the beginning.

"Enforcement is probably the biggest challenge, both with the proposal we've put forward but also more generally when it comes to invasive species," he said.

"Minnesota has enforcement officers at all public boat ramps, but public boat ramps is only one of many access points."

Read the story at link.


Invasive species are a frequent topic at 2009 ESA meeting

Check out links at the website of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute (NYISRI) for symposia, talks, and posters related to invasion ecology from the 94th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Follow this link to the NYISRI site.


Stopping the spread of invasive plants in Mass.

By Jeff Adair, The Sudbury Town Crier

SUDBURY - Volunteers including several students from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High spent Sunday morning clearing bittersweet and other invasive plants from the area around Sudbury Town Hall and Haskell Field.

The outing was organized by White Tail Lane resident Rebecca Chizzo, founder of S.W.E.E.T., Sudbury Weed Education and Eradication Team.

"We had about ten people including myself," said Chizzo, noting that in three hours the group collected 21 contractor bags full of plant material. "We were shocked it was that much. All the rain and everything didn’t help.’’

"We’re only halfway done,’’ she added, nothing the group will hold a second outing this Sunday, Aug. 9.

Invasive plants are a major problem in Massachusetts. They displace native vegetation and disrupt habitats as they spread.

According to the Department of Agricultural Resources, an invasive species that colonizes a new area may gain an ecological edge, since the insects, diseases, and foraging animals that naturally keep its growth in check in its native range are not present in the new habitat.

Some invasive plants, such as Mile-a-Minute vine, Purple Loosestrife and Kudzu, cause serious ecological disturbances, displacing all other plants, and putting extreme pressure on native species that depend on that plant life to survive, the release said. [...]

Read the full story at link.


August is Asian long-horned beetle month in Mass.

Governor Deval Patrick has officially declared August as Asian Longhorned Beetle Month in the state of Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 11th is the Kick Off of Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month at Quinsigamond Community College (soccer field) in Worcester.

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will launch Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Awareness Month, an event to encourage every resident in the Commonwealth to be on the alert for ALB and to learn to identify and report sightings of the invasive insect. Highlights include a reading of Governor Patrick's proclamation declaring August as ALB Awareness Month and recognition of the state's efforts to eradicate this destructive invasive species. Participants will also honor Donna Massie for being the first person to report a sighting of this beetle in Massachusetts.

For more details or to RSVP, please contact Jennifer.Forman-Orth [at] or 617..626..1735.


Fungal fighter for eastern hemlock

By Joshua Brown, University of Vermont, "The View"

adelgidReaching into a box glowing with fluorescent light, Stacie Grassano pulls out a tube. “This is a great one,” she says, holding the clear plastic up to her face. Inside, a tree branch is speckled with white fluff. “It’s growing really well,” she says, handing it to Scott Costa.

Costa brings the branch close to his eye. “Yes,” he says, with a boyish grin, “this is a fungus success story.”

For some, a fungus success story means nothing is growing at the back of their refrigerator. But for Costa, research assistant professor of plant and soil science, and Grassano, his graduate student, the vigorous growth in their laboratory of this fungus, a strain called Lecanicillium muscarium, means a hopeful new chapter in the otherwise bleak tale of the eastern hemlock tree.

Battling an exotic pest

From Georgia to Maine, this once-mighty conifer is now succumbing to an exotic pest, hemlock woolly adelgid. First detected in the western United States in 1924, the adelgid caused little damage. But when it was carried east and reached Virginia in the 1950s it began its destructive spread. An aphid-like insect, the adelgid kills eastern hemlocks within a few years after infestation, feeding on the sap at the base of their needles and cutting off their nutrients.

While the adelgid, originally from Japan and China, appears to have no successful predators in North America, some native fungi — like the one Costa and Grassano have growing on branches in their laboratory — kill the pest.

Last December, Costa, Grassano, and two other researchers, Vladimir Gouli and Jiancai Li, submitted a provisional patent for a new method of cheaply and effectively spreading the fungus, and other similar “biological controls,” that might beat back the adelgid without having to use expensive, toxic pesticides. They call their approach a “whey-based fungal micro-factory.”

Instead of growing fungi in a conventional factory and then transporting it out to a forest — a costly proposition — their factory will be the forest. Or, more accurately, tiny droplets of sweet whey — a cheap waste product of cheese production, inoculated with the right concentrations of the target fungus — will be their factory. By spraying the whey solution into an infected forest, they believe they can get the adelgid-killing fungi to reproduce in large numbers on its own.

“The sweet whey only costs 32 cents a pound,” says Costa, who gets his donated from a New York-based cheese company and receives support for his research from the US Department of Agriculture.

The whey is a far cheaper growing medium than those typically available in labs, and it serves as a nutritional resource, making each droplet a cozy biological factory for a fungal colony, pumping spores out into the forest long after the spraying teams have gone home.

Costa and Grassano’s experiments on branches taken from adelgid-infected forests in Massachusetts are proving highly successful, with rapid growth of the target fungi outcompeting other fungi that live on hemlocks. If their laboratory tests continue to go well, the researchers anticipate starting field trials in 2008. And beyond the adelgid, the researchers anticipate that micro-factories could be used with fungi that attack other insects, weeds and even plant diseases.

The economy and ease of the UVM team’s whey micro-factory technology may prove a critical consideration for land managers — especially in large areas with low economic value, like wild hemlock forests.

“We’re not going to eradicate the adelgid,” Costa says. “The best-case scenario for an insect-killing fungi is you inoculate the environment and get disease outbreaks to start cycling. The idea is to reduce the pest population to a level that is manageable, allowing some of the trees to make seeds, grow and survive.” [...]

Read the full story at link.

Photo of researcher Scott Costa by Joshua Brown. Costa has invented a "whey-based fungal micro-factory" technology that may save the eastern hemlock tree species from an exotic pest.


Long Island volunteer opportunities in August

The Science and Stewardship division of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission office has scheduled two volunteer opportunities during the month of August to continue the invasive plant management work started by the SCA team last year.

These opportunities are posted on the Long Island Volunteer Center website:

More details for these volunteer opportunities can be found at the links following these breif descriptions.

1.Invasive Plant Management Program Volunteer - Wertheim, Thursday August 13, 8:00 am - 12:30 pm (4.5 hours). All volunteers will meet at the Brookhaven Ground Round parking on Montauk Highway and refuge staff will provide a ride to the site on Meadow Lane in Brookhaven. During this work session the volunteers will help remove black swallow-wort from the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

2. Invasive Plant Management Program Volunteer - Wertheim 2, Wednesday, August 19, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm (4.0 hrs). All volunteers will meet at the Main Office of the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. During this work session the volunteers will help remove Japanese stilt grass and black swallow-wort from Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

Would you be able to volunteer for one of these sessions? Direct all inquiries to:

Karen Eichelberger, 631..563..0352 or 631..224..2604.


On-line video conference:

Think Locally, Act Neighborly to Combat Invasive Species – The Florida Invasive Species Partnership (Recorded on June 16, 2009)

Foresters! – Earn 1.5 Category 1 Continuing Forestry Education Credits!

To watch the presentations, get the materials and earn CFEs, visit:


Prevention is the Name of the Invasive Species Game, According to Sen. Carl Levin

Two US Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittees got an earful from Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) today on the threat menacing invasive species bring to the Great Lakes.

“Mr. Chairmen and Ranking Members, the impact of invasive species on Michigan’s native wildlife is large,” Levin said in a prepared statement. He waxed on about zebra mussels and big headed carp, about smelly coastlines, declining native fish populations, birds choking with botulism and foul tasting drinking water.

Levin used the platform to call for a “strong” ballast water management program. “Maritime commerce is the largest pathway for new species to be introduced into our waters, and I believe that we need to enact legislation that will require ballast water discharge management that will result in ballast water treatment technology onboard ships as soon as possible. I support establishing a strong national ballast water technology standard for all ships. Technology that meets this standard would be approved for a minimum period of time—five, eight, or 10 years,” he stated in prepared testimony.

Since pretty much anyone can use the internet to import live organisms into the country, Levin advocated for a screening process. He was really advocating for the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act that he and Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced because it has just such a screening process in it.

Finally, the Michigan Senator said he will introduce a bill that would simplify the process of listing a species as injurious under the Lacey Act. Listing a species under the Lacey Act prohibits the interstate transportation or importation of a species without a permit. Sen. Levin feels strongly that the bighead carp should be listed.

Since prevention is the key to saving the wildlife in the Great Lakes region, as well as many other states that are suffering both ecologically and economically from the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species, Levin encouraged the committee to get behind these three pieces of legislation to combat the growing threat.


New "Early Detection of Invasive Species Surveillance Monitoring Field Guide"

The new "Early Detection of Invasive Species Surveillance Monitoring Field Guide" is available electronically from the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program!

The guide was designed as an integral part of the Eastern Rivers and Mountains (ERMN) and Northeast Temperate (NETN) Networks Early Detection of Invasive Species Surveillance Monitoring and Rapid Response monitoring protocol. It follows the same format and is intended to be used in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service "Invasive Plants Field and Reference Guide: An Ecological Perspective of Plant Invaders of Forests and Woodlands Field Guide."

The purpose is to assist National Park Service (NPS) employees, contractors, and citizen scientists to detect incipient populations of targeted invasive species before they become widely established. The taxa presented in this guide are a subset of larger target species lists that were produced for each park in the above mentioned networks. As new park species threats arise, additional species cards will be produced.

Current species cards include:

Adelges tsugae (hemlock wooly adelgid), Agrilus planipennis (emerald ash borer), Anoplophora glabripennis (Asian longhorned beetle), Sirex noctilio (sirex woodwasp), Cardamine impatiens (narrowleaf bittercress), Dioscorea oppositifolia (Chinese yam), Frangula alnus (glossy buckthorn), Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), and Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (wavyleaf basketgrass).

Already in the works for next spring:

Pyrrhalta viburnii (viburnum leaf beetle), Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (amur peppervine), Lepidium latifolium (perennial pepperweed), and Populus alba (white poplar).

To read more about the protocol, view lists of target species, or download a copy of either field guide, visit:

Contact information:

Jennifer Stingelin Keefer, Botanist and Penn State University Research
Associate, is the lead Principal Investigator for this project.


Boating proposal has bit too much 'mussel'

Editorial from The Republican

This is one fish tale that we just don't want to believe.

To prevent the spread of zebra mussels in the lakes, reservoirs and ponds, Massachusetts state lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban boaters and fishermen from placing in inland waterways boats contaminated with invasive species or exposed to contaminated waters in the prior 30 days unless they have been properly cleaned.

Now, we don't have a problem with that part of the bill. We think it's needed.

Zebra mussels can wreak havoc on water systems. They crowd out native species and clog water intake pipes at reservoirs. Already, the state has closed Laurel Lake in Berkshire County where the zebra mussel has been found, and boats have been banned from Quabbin Reservoir for 45 days as a preventative measure.

The mussels' sharp, small shells can also cut the feet of swimmers. Zebra mussels are more than a nuisance, and the state clearly has a duty to stop their spread.

But we have a problem with the 60-day jail sentence that violators could face should the bill pass as it's currently written. Fines yes, jail no.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, the bill's lead sponsor, said the law would create a deterrent and help educate people.

We agree, but using our jails as schoolhouses is a poor use of state money.

Instead of jailing offenders, the Legislature should use the money that would have paid for prison to station workers at state boat ramps who can inspect and clean boats before they go into the water.

We don't feel it's right to jail someone for a mistake. Legislators can write a separate, tougher law to deal with people who deliberately contaminate the water.

Legislators should think twice about tacking jail time onto the bill. Otherwise, they may end up facing bands of angry, voting fishermen who are saying to themselves "teach a man to legislate, and you've got a pest for life."

Read the editorial at link.


Experts seek ways to tame invasive plants

BY KELLY URBAN, The Tribune-Democrat

Invasive plants are rapidly spreading across the state and causing major problems for natural ecosystems to the point that some are changing landscapes and overtaking native species.

To better address ways of controlling and managing invasive plants, the biannual Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference being held at Pitt-Johns-town offers participants the opportunity to hear the latest findings and research on the problem.

During the two-day conference, local and national experts are covering a wide array of topics such as invasive plant management, how to prevent invasions, predicting and identifying areas vulnerable to invasion, how to distinguish between native plants and invaders, the impact of deer on ecosystems and the impacts of climate change.

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johns-town, presented the introduction to the conference Tuesday.

Murtha said that when he was a kid, people didn’t think too much about the environment and the impact it has on everyone’s lives.

“Now we have to push to get things done, and we have to work to have a clean environment,” he said.

He added that groups participating in the conference are making a real difference in combating the problem of invasive pests.

“What you do is not only a benefit to this area, but to the whole country,” Murtha said.

The conference attracts people from six mid-Atlantic states – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, said Kristin Sewalk, a board member of the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council and director of National Biodiversity of Johnstown.

“The goal is to find ways to prevent invasive plants from destroying our natural heritage,” she said. “There is still much we don’t understand, so hopefully people can take the information they hear here and apply it to their own findings.” [...]

Read the full story at link.


NJ wildlife officials need help tracking invasive species

By Phaedra Laird,

SOUTH JERSEY--It's a creature from nearly a world away that has somehow found itself in local waterways. Experts aren't really sure exactly what kind of damage the Asian Mitten Crabs are capable of around here, but say it's important to find out more this invasive species.

"I'm trying to catch a whole lot of big crabs," said 8 year-old Gavin Vega.

"I can't complain," said his grandmother, Olga Andujar,
"everytime we come, we get some."

It's a popular pastime here at the shore, and it takes patience to find what you're looking for. "It's fun and when you catch crabs, you can eat them," said Aiyanna Vega.

"Always the same kind," said Andujar, "smaller, bigger, but always the same kind." They're catching blue claw crabs, which is what they're looking for, but what some people have been finding instead, have wildlife officials baffled. They're called Mitten Crabs, an invasive species that experts say could cause big problems here.

The mitten crabs are native to Asia and considered an invasive species here. They first started showing up in the Garden state last year in bays, creeks, and rivers. More surfaced this year, and the DEP is asking crabbers to keep an eye out and report any sightings. "I haven't seen any," said Andujar, "we come mostly every other week and I haven't seen nothing."

Experts are trying to figure out how many, and where the crabs are. They say they burrow in banks which could lead to erosion problems and fear they could interfere with other species in the area. "I never seen one yet," said Riggo Vega, "anything different, I would know right away."

State wildlife officials are asking if you do catch one to keep it, and let them know so they can try to figure out more about this foreign visitor and where it may be staying.

It's unknown how the crabs were introduced to our waters, but experts say one theory is that they may have come over from Europe or Asia by boat.

Anyone who has caught or seen one is asked to contact wildlife officials at the Nacote Creek Marine Fisheries by calling (609) 748-2020.

Read the full story at link.

Visit the NJDEP website for more information about mitten crabs at link.


Invasive Asian carp close to entering Great Lakes

By Eartha Jane Melzer, The Michigan Messenger

carpThe Asian carp, an invasive species that can grow to be more than 4 feet long and 100 pounds and threatens to disrupt the Great Lakes ecosystem, has been detected within 10 miles of the electrical barrier built to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports.

In a statement released Aug. 7, the Army Corps warned that a new monitoring method developed by a team of University of Notre Dame scientists detected DNA from the fish in water samples taken in the manmade canal that connects the Mississippi River basin and Lake Michigan.

These findings indicate that the Asian carp may be closer to the Great Lakes than previously thought.

Earlier this year the Corps completed a $9 million electrical barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. By running current through the water in the canal the agency hoped to stop the fish from entering the lakes without impeding shipping or water flow.

With news that the unwelcome fish appears closer to the Great Lakes than expected, the Alliance for the Great Lakes called for the voltage of the electrical barrier to be increased.

“The electrical barrier system has been operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a reduced voltage of 1 volt per inch since its partial completion earlier this year,“ the environmental group said. “Current system conditions allow operation at between 2 and 4 volts, but the barrier has never been turned up that high.”

“The state of Illinois has to put an abort on Asian carp if this mission goes critical, and it needs support from the entire region,” Joel Brammeier, acting President of the Alliance said in a statement released Monday. “An ounce of prevention could save the Great Lakes from a crushing burden for decades to come — perhaps forever.”

Brammier called for aggressive monitoring of the fish and said that it may be necessary to poison the fish in the water if they make it through the electrical barrier. [...]

The Army Corps has been reluctant to operate the underwater electrical barrier at full power because of concerns that people could get shocked and that sparks could endanger cargo ships carrying flammable materials.

Read the full story at link.

Photo courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service


Corps will turn up barrier

By Dale Bowman, Chicago Sun Times

In response to the report released last week about finding DNA evidence of Asian farther upstream in the Sanitary and Ship Canal than expected, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will announce this morning a planned increase in the operating parameters for the electric fish dispersal barrier near Romeoville. [...]

The Corps of Engineers made the decision to increase operating parameters based on the latest, best information available, including results from preliminary genetic water testing obtained July 31st which indicate that Asian carp are closer to the barrier than previously thought. Recent research undertaken at the Corps of Engineers research laboratory indicates that the optimal operating parameters are two volts per inch, 15 Hertz frequency and 6.5 milliseconds pulse rate.

To prepare the barrier for the increase, the Corps of Engineers will begin operational testing of the equipment at 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 12, 2009. Operational testing is expected to be complete by Friday, August 14 but will continue until barrier preparation is finalized. In coordination with the Coast Guard, the Army Corps will begin navigation safety tests at the new
operating parameters as early as practicable. The timing of the increase is tied to the barrier contractor's ability to change the parameters in a safe manner.

"Once we received the genetic testing results on July 31st, we immediately began making preparations to be able to increase the operating parameters," said Maj. Gen. John Peabody, commander of the Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. "The earliest we could make the changes was this Friday, so we used the available time to consult with other state
and federal agencies and partners. It is clear to us that this is the appropriate action."

Read the full story at link.


Invasives presentation at monthly meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency on Friday

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, August 13 and Friday August 14 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The August meeting will be webcast live. The Agency’s homepage has a link to view the webcast.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from Dr. Otto Doering III on the Economic Impact of Invasive Species. Dr. Doering is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University and a member of the US Department of Interior’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee. He publishes in the areas of agricultural policy, resource conservation, water, energy/biofuels, and climate change and is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

See link for more information.


Strategic Management of Invasive Species in the Southeastern United States

December 7th-11th, 2009
Carolina Inn Conference Center
Chapel Hill, NC

This five-day invasive species course will be held at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC, December 7th-11th, 2009 for installation personnel and their strategic partners in the southeastern United States. The workshop will provide participants with knowledge and resources that will enable them to improve land stewardship by building partnerships and effectively addressing invasive species problems with an emphasis on terrestrial plants of the southeast. Science and management experts will address pressing ecological issues and explain key components of an invasive species management strategy. Participants also will learn about local, state, and federal invasive species initiatives and regional partnership opportunities.

The workshop is offered by Invasive Plant Control, Inc. through funding from the DOD Legacy Program. There will be no charge for the workshop. Registration will be available online beginning August 3, 2009. Please contact Steven Manning at to be placed on a list to receive notices about this workshop. You may also find information including the proposed agenda and dates online at Follow the link to Conferences and Workshops. To reserve a hotel room please contact the Carolina Inn which is a four star/four diamond hotel and conference center located next to the University of North Carolina campus ( The hotel has agreed to the federal per diem rate for this location and rooms have been blocked. When making reservations please use the key word “invasive” to locate the special rate.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Week of August 3, 2009

Updated 8/5/09

Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference - August 11 & 12

Please note that the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference will be held on August 11 and 12 at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. To find out more, visit the Calendar of Upcoming Invasive Species Events page on NYIS.INFO.


NJ fingers mitten crab, fellow invaders

mitten_crabAuthorities have issued an all-points bulletin for a murky figure, but they're not seeking a criminal.

Instead, be on the lookout for . . . well, let's quote the recent alert: "Public asked to report invasive mitten crabs."

Mitten crabs?

Ouch. That gives new meaning to "one for the thumb."

In fact, Chinese mitten crabs -- although native to Asia -- have surfaced recently in New Jersey waters, including the Delaware and Barnegat bays, state officials announced Friday.

And they're not our only foreign invaders. Authorities raised a similar alarm in June when a flathead catfish -- a "voracious predator"' normally found west of the Appalachians -- turned up in the Delaware River.

And then there's South Jersey's own strange specimen -- the Asian swamp eel, also known as the Gibbsboro gender-bender.

That's right. It's "Gills Gone Wild."

[...] If you catch a mitten crab, they say, don't throw it back alive.

Friday's alert encourages crabbers to take a close-up photo of their catch and to record key details for research scientists. These include the crustacean's sex, which -- if the crab's still alive -- should probably be determined with great care.

Read the full story at link.


Online field guide to aquatic plants

Alabama has an online field guide to aquatic plants, including invasives, at link.


Munching on Garlic Mustard

A New Weevil in the Works

Garlic and mustard are common ingredients that can be found in American households. But garlic mustard? Well, that’s a different story.

Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is considered one of the most problematic invaders of temperate forests in North America. According to legend, it was brought here from Europe in the 1860s as a culinary herb, but unfortunately, it doesn’t taste very good. Since then, garlic mustard has spread to 34 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces.

“Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that gets a lot of attention,” says ecologist Adam Davis, who has been studying the weed for years. “It’s very noticeable and hard to eradicate because of its seed bank.” [...]

A Model Solution

To better understand garlic mustard and find a suitable biocontrol, Davis—in collaboration with colleagues at Michigan State University, Cornell University, the University of Illinois, and the Centre for Agricultural Biosciences International (CABI) in Switzerland—created a computer model that simulates the weed’s life cycle.

“In part, we wanted to answer ecologists’ criticisms that biocontrol can potentially cause as many problems as it solves because of unintended consequences,” says Davis. “We were looking for a way to choose agents that are most likely to succeed while reducing their potential for harm to native plants and environments. Ideally, we want to try to release only one organism, if possible.”

Through this model, Davis was able to predict the type and severity of damage that would be needed to reduce garlic mustard’s population growth rates. Davis performed an analysis using computer code that enabled him to change one variable at a time while keeping all the others constant, allowing him to probe the life cycle for the plant’s weak point. He found that in order to make an impact, a biocontrol agent has to reduce garlic mustard’s survival in the rosette stage and its ability to reproduce in the adult stage.

Well before Davis created the life-cycle model, CABI scientists began looking for and testing potential biocontrol agents to tackle garlic mustard. They collected data on the amount of damage each insect could inflict on the garlic mustard population. From a list of more than 70 natural enemies found to be feeding on garlic mustard in Europe, four Ceutorhynchus weevils were selected as the most promising control agents.

Combining the feeding information collected by CABI scientists and the demographic information of garlic mustard in North America, Davis used the computerized life-cycle model to assess each weevil’s ability to inflict damage on the weed and inhibit its growth. One weevil, C. scrobicollis, came out on top.

High Hopes for Little Insect

weevilThe tiny C. scrobicollis has a life cycle of 1 year and produces one batch of offspring per lifetime. Itlays its eggs on garlic mustard’s leaf stems in the fall. When the eggs hatch in the spring, the larvae feed on the weed’s root crown, the area from which the rosette’s leaves grow and where nutrients are stored.

By feeding on the root crown, C. scrobicollis stops the flow of nutrients and water from the roots to the rest of the plant. It also damages the meristem, the area of the plant where new growth takes place. As a result, garlic mustard produces fewer seeds or, in areas with high weevil populations, dies prematurely in early spring without producing any seeds.

C. scrobicollis also appears to be monophagous, meaning it eats just one thing: garlic mustard. That means scientists won’t have to worry about any unintended consequences when using this insect as a biocontrol agent.

During preliminary testing, CABI scientists believed C. scrobicollis was the best candidate to control garlic mustard. Putting the weevil’s feeding data through Davis’s life-cycle model confirmed their beliefs and created a stronger case for the permit process.

“The model gave teeth to the permit application to release this weevil in the United States,” says Davis. “It provided a peek into the future as to the impact the weevil could have on the garlic mustard population here.”

C. scrobicollis is currently in quarantine at the University of Minnesota. If all goes well, this beneficial weevil may soon be roaming North America to find a nice garlic mustard meal.—By Stephanie Yao, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

Read the full story at link.

Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis photo by H. Hinz and E. Gerber.


Maine needs boaters in battle against unwelcome invaders

GAIL RICE/Maine Outdoor Journal

In August 2008, a visitor to Salmon Lake in Belgrade noticed some suspicious plants near the public boat landing at Kozy Cove. The visitor, a fisheries biologist from Tennessee who understood the threat that invasive aquatic plants pose to Maine's lakes and ponds, wasted no time notifying the proper authorities.

The plant was identified as Eurasian water milfoil, and quick action by state agencies and volunteers to remove it and ensure it would not spread means that the prognosis for Salmon Lake, also known as Ellis Pond, is encouraging.

Eurasian water milfoil is considered to be one of the most aggressive invasive aquatic plants in North America. It is believed to be rare in Maine, having been detected in only two bodies of water so far (the other being Pleasant Hill Pond in Scarborough). [...]

At the end of 2008, invasive aquatic plants had been found in 30 Maine lakes and ponds, out of 374 that had been screened since 2001.

Boaters can – and should – play a key role to prevent further infestations of such plants on Maine's inland waterways. They're among the most likely to spread the infestation to more lakes and ponds by transporting plant fragments on their boats, motors, trailers and other equipment. But an alert boater can help by knowing what plants to look for and what to do if they're found.

"If we can be aware and practice good habits when we launch and haul boats, we can make a real difference and keep invasive plants and organisms from getting into Maine lakes," says Roberta Hill, program director for the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, part of the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.

The fight against invasive aquatic plants in Maine has three major elements: prevention, early detection and rapid response. The case in Belgrade illustrates the importance of the latter two elements.

But where boaters can help the most is with the first line of defense – prevention – which Hill describes as "the best bang for the buck" when it comes to stopping the spread.

The center has been working since the late 1990s to educate the boating public about what these plants look like, how they can harm Maine lakes and ponds, and what boaters can do to stop them from spreading. The battle kicked into high gear in 2002, when the state launched its Courtesy Boat Inspection Program, funded through the sale of lake and river protection stickers. All registered boats operated on inland waters must have a sticker.

The VLMP has trained hundreds of volunteers and state agency personnel on plant identification. These "citizen scientists" have become a familiar sight at boat ramps, where they ask questions and invite boaters to help inspect their watercraft and gear.

The volunteers hope boaters will get into the habit of self-inspecting when they launch or haul their boats.

Specifically, boaters on inland waters should inspect their craft and equipment thoroughly before every launch and after every haul-out. This includes not just the boat, trailer and motor, but also the anchor lines, fishing and dive gear, live wells, and even floating toys and duck decoys. If you find something, remove it, carry it to a location well away from the shoreline, and bury it.

"Anything that goes into one body of water, comes out, then goes into another lake or pond, is a potential vector," says Hill. She adds that the tiniest traces of invasive plant and animal species can be virtually invisible to the naked eye, so washing your boat bottom and letting it dry out for a few days before launching in other waters is an even better idea. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Mile-a-minute, purple loosestrife among weeds wreaking havoc in Massachusetts

By Jessica Fargen/

mile-a-minuteMassachusetts wildlife lovers and protectors are mobilizing this summer to battle invasive weeds and plants that are choking out endangered flowers, threatening native birds and disrupting ecosystems.

“It’s affecting our wetlands in a number of ways,” said Carly Rocklen, outreach director and restoration manager for Neponset River Watershed Association, which has a five-year plan to reduce purple loosestrife, a beautiful but damaging flowering weed. “There are some marsh birds that won’t nest in purple loosestrife. It alters soil and water chemistry.”

Last year, the association released 80,000-plus galerucella beetles in the Milton and Canton area to battle the weed.

Georgeann Keer, project manager in the division of ecological restoration at the state Department of Fish and Game, said purple loosestrife is well-established in Massachusetts.

On the Boston Harbor Islands, ecologists are waging a battle with Oriental bittersweet, a climbing vine with pretty red fruit that smothers native vegetation and can grow out of control. The vine has been found across the state and on Harbor Islands including Bumpkin Island.

“It’s one of the worst invaders currently affecting biodiversity,” said Marc Albert, stewardship program manager for the Boston Harbor Islands National Park area. “It’s pretty much everywhere.”

Albert said staff and volunteers are needed to keep the vine in check.

Albert also is keeping an eye on a similar invasive weed called kudzu, which has ravaged forests in the South and has been found on Peddocks Island. Albert said the small patch of kudzu on Peddocks Island has been reduced in recent years with the use of a mild herbicide and monitoring.

“It’s referred to as the scourge of the South because of its capacity to take over whole forest patches,” he said.

Another invasive weed, the mile-a-minute vine, is so established there’s little hope of eradicating it.

Mile-a-minute, which can grow up to 6 inches a day, has taken over 100 acres in Blue Hills Reservation, said Alexandra Echandi, forestry assistant at in the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s southern region. The vine can grow up to 30 feet on trees.

“It pretty much takes over the natural environment, not letting anything grow - that includes birds, butterflies and turtle habitats,” Echandi said.

Fighting the vine takes staff and dedicated volunteers who must yank the weeds out of the ground to keep the plants in check, she said. Echandi recently applied for a permit to unleash weevils, a type of bug that can destroy mile-a-minute. But Echandi said there is little hope that the vine will be permanently eliminated.

Read the full story at link.

Photo by Stuart Cahill. Alexandra Echandi, a forestry assistant for the Boston Department of Conservation and Recreation, battles an infestation of mile-a-minute weed.


Emerald ash borer plagues tree life in PA

By Connie Mertz
For The Daily Item

There is a silent killer threatening to decimate ash trees across North America. So far, more than 25 million ash trees have succumbed to the deadly impact of a little beetle, known as the emerald ash borer.

"It was brought over from Asia in shipping crates and first discovered in Michigan in 2002," explained Weston Campbell, a summer intern attending Delaware Valley College who is working with Penn State Extension in Montour County.

Naturally spreading on an average of one-half mile a year, it has already reached portions of Pennsylvania.

The explanation of how it arrived in Pennsylvania so soon is a simple explained. "It has spread by satellite colonies. This is when something is moved," he elaborated. "In this case, it is through nursery stock and firewood."

Currently the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has quarantined Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer and Mifflin counties, and most recently Armstrong and Washington counties. The quarantine makes it unlawful to transport ash trees of any size, including their branches and limbs. [...]

To keep tabs on the spread of the invasive insect in Pennsylvania, purple panel sticky traps have been placed in ashes at various locations. These traps contain a blend of oils that are said to mimic chemicals emitted by stressed ash trees.

"The purple panel traps will not bring emerald ash borer into a noninfested site," said Greg Hoover, ornamental extension entomologist at Penn State University. "These traps help us determine if the pest is already there." [...]

Read the full story at link.


Emerald Ash Borer: Recommendations for Homeowner and Woodland Owner Action

Developed by: Peter Smallidge1, Holly Menninger1, Mark Whitmore1, and Charles O’Neill2. 1Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Department of Natural Resources, Ithaca, NY. 2NY Sea Grant, Cornell University, Rice Hall, Ithaca, NY.

The first occurrence of emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) in New York State was confirmed by USDA APHIS on June 17, 2009 in Randolph, NY (Cattaraugus County). An invasive beetle introduced from eastern Asia, EAB kills all species of ash trees native to North America, and has the potential to cause severe economic and ecological damage. First detected near Detroit in 2002 it has now spread to 13 states and two Canadian provinces. Ash mortality is 100% near Detroit and is widespread in all the affected areas.


Milfoil, an invasive threat to U.S. waterbodies

Eurasian water milfoil is a fragile looking flora that was once a familiar plant to find in fresh water aquariums.

Even so, it did not stay there. Now it is believed to be an invasive species that threatens North American fresh water streams, rivers, pools and lakes.

In its native Eurasian environment it is a relatively harmless plant (but still a bit of a pest) but here, out of its normal waters, it takes over and destroys ecosystems, clogs water intakes and power plants, and makes them unsuitable for recreational purposes.

Read the full story and watch a video at link.


Weigh In On Federal Strategies for Plant Pests

USDA-APHIS has been tapped to implement the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention section of the 2008 Farm Bill which is authorized at 12 to 50 million dollars per year through fiscal year 2013. APHIS intends to engage stakeholders in designing "a risk-based approach to disburse funds" and implement the bill's provisions.

To date, the APHIS plan identifies six strategies to coordinate and fund:

- Enhance plant pest/disease analysis and survey
- Target domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum
- Enhance and strengthen pest identification and technology
- Safeguard nursery production
- Conduct outreach and education to increase public understanding, acceptance, and support of plant pest and disease eradication and control efforts
- Enhance mitigation capabilities

More information about the program can be found on the USDA-APHIS Plant Health website. The program's site also enables anyone to sign up to receive notices about related documents and events and also to offer comments.


Weed Population Monitoring and Prioritizing for Management

News from the Center for Invasive Plant Management

Three publications that discuss the value of weed population monitoring and using a
decision support framework for prioritizing management are summarized.

Non-indigenous species management using a population prioritization
framework by Lisa J. Rew, Erik A. Lehnhoff, and Bruce D. Maxwell. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. V87: 1029-1036.

Quantifying Invasiveness of Plants: A Test Case with Yellow Toadflax
(Linaria vulgaris) by Erik A. Lehnhoff, Lisa J. Rew, Bruce D. Maxwell, and Mark L. Taper. Invasive Plant Science and Management. V1: 319-325.

The Rationale for Monitoring Invasive Plant Populations as a Crucial Step for
Management by Bruce D. Maxwell, Erik Lehnhoff, and Lisa J. Rew. Invasive Plant Science and Management. V2: 1-9.

Read the summaries at link.


Northeastern Weed Science Society Sponsors Training

The Northeastern Weed Science Society is sponsoring a Noxious and Invasive Weed Management Short Course for public and private land managers. The four-day course will be held in September in Pennsylvania. View website.


Report Compares Relocatable Commercial Vehicle Washing Systems

This report from the USDA Forest Service compares a range of vehicle washing systems with respect to efficacy, economics, waste containment, waste disposal, and the viability of any propagules that were collected in the cleaning process. View report.


Of bats and ash trees

by Brian Mann, The In Box, North Country Public Radio

Climate change is a big deal. Behind the micro narratives and the daily turbulence of our busy lives, our world is changing at speeds that boggle the mind.

Humans are clearly the engine driving this planetary evolution. In part it's the carbon we pump into the air.

But it's also the critters we carry with us as we hustle and bustle around the globe.

In the short to mid term, invasive species transported by people will likely have a far more profound impact on our ecosystems than changing temperature.

Chris Knight reported recently in the Adirondack Enterprise on the Emerald ash borer, a type of beetle now in Western New York, Quebec and Ontario.

This invader, carried in bundles of firewood, is likely to kill most of the trees along the shore of Lake Flower in my home town of Saranac Lake.

white_noseIt's also likely that white nose syndrome, the fungus that's eradicating bats in the Northeast, was introduced from Europe by humans.

(Candace Page, the Burlington Free Press's environmental writer, had a brilliant piece about WNS in Sunday's edition.)

The catalog of invaders seems to grow daily: zebra mussels, lamprey, "creek snot," Eurasian watermilfoil...

As these organisms eclipse or weaken native populations, altering the food chain, we could see dramatic changes in the fabric of our forests and waterways.

This has happened before on a smaller scale. Dutch elm disease was likely introduced to the United States in a shipment of wooden furniture from the Netherlands.

Through the 1900s, the fungus altered the landscape of urban America, destroying many of the trees that decorated avenues and neighborhoods.

The event we experience could be far more dramatic. What happens if 90% of bat species are abruptly extirpated?

What happens if ash trees -- 7% of the forests in New York state -- are decimated?

Add to those stresses the incremental pressure of changing temperatures and weather patterns.

In short, humans are conducting a kind of accidental experiment, heating the planet and mixing its ingredients with a giant spoon.

The twist, of course, is that we live inside the Petri dish.

Tomorrow during our regional broadcast, I'll report on white nose syndrome research continuing in the Champlain town of Willsboro.

Read The In Box blog at link.

Photo of bats with white nose syndrome by Al Hicks, NYSDEC.


Spiny water flea threatens lake's food web

By Candace Page,

water_fleaA leading lake researcher is warning a new invasive species that “is at our doorstep” represents a serious threat to the Lake Champlain ecosystem.

The invader is the spiny water flea, a tiny crustacean that can do outsize damage, said Tim Mihuc, director of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh. Mihuc said the flea represents “perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Lake Champlain.”

While other scientists and lake advocates use less-apocalyptic language to describe the threat, there is general agreement that the water flea could disrupt the Champlain food chain and make game fishing more difficult.

“The flea is undesirable food for fish. I’ve seen video of small perch trying to swallow them and spitting them out. It’s like eating toothpicks,” said Doug Jensen of Duluth, Minn., who works in a program to prevent the flea’s further spread in his state.

The flea’s imminent arrival here — it has invaded a nearby New York lake — has lent new urgency to talks about how to stop invasive species from traveling through the Champlain Canal between the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. [...]

Anglers fear the water fleas in part because their thorn-like spines attach to fishing line, collecting in large globs that make trolling difficult or impossible.

In Vermont, Mihuc’s cry has been taken up by Lake Champlain International, the angling group, whose leader is urging the state Agency of Natural Resources to help prevent the water flea from reaching the state.

“Scientists have been warning about this threat, but they have a hard time getting traction with anybody but the fishing community,” LCI Executive Director James Ehlers said. “There are 21,000 LCI anglers. We want to know how we can help.”

The threat to Lake Champlain became more immediate last year when the creature was found in Great Sacandaga Lake, just west of Glens Falls.

The lake flows into the Sacandaga River, a tributary of the Hudson. The Champlain Canal connects the Hudson to Lake Champlain, providing the flea with a watery highway from New York to Vermont.

“The introduction of this exotic animal to a freshwater lake may ultimately destroy the natural food web resulting in a potential collapse of the game fishery,” Mihuc wrote last week to Ehlers. Mihuc is an expert on the lake’s plankton communities, the microscopic plants and animals that serve as food for larger creatures. [...]

Spiny water fleas have yet to reach the Champlain Canal, water samples taken this summer have shown. But the threat has mobilized new cooperation between the New York State Canal Corp., the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Invasive water plants make inroads on Long Island

By Jennifer Smith, Newsday

water_chestnutNot long after last month's declaration that the Peconic River was free of a pesky invasive plant called water primrose, state biologists made a disheartening discovery about 25 miles west.

A few dozen stems of hydrilla - a voracious Southern weed that has choked bodies of water across the Northeast - were growing in Lake Ronkonkoma.

First spotted upstate last summer, hydrilla has since made inroads on Long Island, turning up at lakes in Sayville and Smithtown.

"It makes dense mats of vegetation; you can't rowboat through it," said Charles Guthrie, regional fisheries manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "If it were to come in and get established in other places, it could cause real problems."

Invasive aquatic plants crowd out native flora, hurt fish by robbing water of oxygen as the plants wither and decompose, and render lakes impassable to boaters and fishermen. The discovery last month at Lake Ronkonkoma highlights the challenges that officials and environmental advocates face as they struggle to keep these invaders out of local waters. Each year, invasive aquatic plants have a nationwide economic impact of $500 million, estimated a 2003 report from Cornell University. [...]

Local laws banning the sale of some invasive plants are being phased in by Nassau and Suffolk, and the state is working on its own list of nonnative species with an eye to future regulation.

But with little state or federal money to pay for eradication, the problem continues even as local governments dispatch aquatic mowers and weed-eating fish, and as volunteers labor to pull invaders from some of Long Island's best-loved water bodies. [...]

Read the full story at link.

Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | Volunteers remove invasive Water Chestnut plants from Mill Pond in Oyster Bay. / July 8, 2009