Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Week of September 28, 2009

ALERT: New York Flora Atlas reports new invader

Slender falsebrome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) has been found in two New York counties.

falsebromeAccording to the New York Flora Atlas, slender falsebrome is a perennial, herbaceous monocot that often forms dense patches and sometimes occurs as scattered individuals, primarily in forest understories but also growing in full sun.

A native of Eurasia and north Africa, this species is sometimes sold as an ornamental grass. It has the potential to become highly invasive and therefore should not be planted. A large infestation discovered by Steven Daniel in 2009 in Genesee County is the first report from New York. Bergen Swamp stewards observed this plant at this location since at least the late 1990s, but did not know what it was or that it was a potentially new invasive plant for the region. A second population was discovered in Tompkins County (approximately 85 miles from the Genesee County population) also in 2009. Therefore, this invasive species is probably widespread in at least western and central New York and has likely been overlooked.

In Washington state, the plant generally stays green throughout the year.

For more information, including photographs, visit the New York Flora Atlas.

For additional information about this species, including how to identify it, visit the King County, Washington website.

Photo by Glenn Miller, Courtesy of King County, Washington.


Another invasive grass to watch out for

New York Flora Association Blog

The New York Flora Association Blog recently posted an alert for false brome grass. Marilyn Jordan from The Nature Conservancy on Long Island is also concerned about wavy leaf basketgrass showing up in New York.

Oplismenus hirtellus (L.) P. Beauv. ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz

This was reported through the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council listserve. According to USDA plants the subspecies is only found in MD, but postings to the ma-eppc listserv indicate it is also in VA and FL.

There may be taxonomic confusion with the species Oplismenus hirtellus. Wavy leaf basketgrass is more competitive than Japanese stilt grass, and “An ornamental variegated pink, green and white form, sold as O. hirtellus ‘Variegatus’ for hanging baskets, has spontaneously reverted to an all-green, wavy-leafed, very aggressive form under greenhouse conditions.”

The species has been sold in CT according to LIISMA SRC member J. Lehrer.

Information and photos of the species are available at: and


NOAA, EEA, and partners complete restoration project at Hempstead Harbor

HempsteadHarborToday, NOAA and its partners, including EEA Inc., celebrated the successful completion of a multi-year project to compensate the public for hazardous waste released into Hempstead Harbor, N.Y. The project restored salt marsh and coastal shoreline, and created important habitats for spawning, nursing and foraging fish and other wildlife.

"Coastal wetlands like this one provide important environmental and economic services," said Robert Haddad, Assessment and Restoration Division chief of NOAA's Office of Response & Restoration. "The completion of this habitat cleanup and restoration project will benefit fisheries and the wildlife and coastal communities that depend upon them."

The Applied Environmental Services property, designated as a Superfund site in 1986, was used as a petroleum and hazardous waste storage area from the 1930s to the 1970s. Improper handling and storage of these hazardous substances led to the contamination of groundwater, surface water, soils, sediments, and air.

Restoration took place across the harbor in Bar Beach Lagoon. NOAA partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State agencies, the Town of North Hempstead, and EEA Inc. on activities that included the removal of invasive plant species and 3,000 cubic yards of soil and solid waste debris. Each of the excavated areas was backfilled with clean soils provided by the Town of North Hempstead. Volunteers helped plant more than 8,000 native marsh wetland plants and coastal grasses, shrubs and trees.

"This restoration project also will improve the quality of life for communities in the vicinity of Hempstead Harbor," said Jon Kaiman, the Town of North Hempstead Supervisor. "The town is proud to have played a key role in the turnaround of this critical wildlife habitat."

This project was the first in the nation to be funded by a Superfund natural resource damage settlement that included money for performance monitoring. Efforts have succeeded in establishing a diverse population of salt marsh and coastal plant and animal species, including marsh vegetation, invertebrates, fish and birds.

NOAA's Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program restores habitats and communities that have been harmed by oil spills, hazardous substance releases, and ship groundings. Since the 1980s, this program has worked with other agencies, industry and communities to successfully protect natural resources at more than 500 waste sites and settled almost 200 natural resource damage assessment cases, generating almost $450 million for restoration projects nationwide.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

Photo Credit: NOAA


Northeastern Weed Science Society Conference

Dear NEWSS Members and Members to Be:

The Annual NEWSS Conference is fast approaching. The title and author(s) submission site is now active for the 64th Annual Meeting to be held at the Marriott Boston Cambridge, Two Cambridge Center, 50 Broadway, Cambridge, MA January 4‐10th, 2010.

Go to (or use the sign‐in link at and sign in under new user to create your own password for the site.

To submit your title, click on new presentation. Simply follow the site’s step by step process for submission. Add your title, then choose topic type and section by using the pull‐down menus. Be sure to indicate if you are competing in the graduate student contest via the pull down menu – this is critical. Enter author(s) and affiliations and be sure to click on the square indicating which author is the presenter. Please be consistent with your colleagues in the naming of your institute or business. Click on the ”Submit” button when you have entered all the information. You will receive an email confirmation that your title has been submitted.

The deadline for title submission is Wed. September 23.

If you have any questions or encounter any problems, please contact Mark VanGessel ( or Greg Armel (
We look forward to another great meeting this year.

NEWSS Public Relations

Barb Scott
Research Associate
Weed Science
Univ of DE, REC
16483 County Seat Hwy
Georgetown, DE 19947



Job Announcement: Invasive Species Program Coordinator

POSITION TITLE: Invasive Species Program Coordinator
LOCATION: Sugarloaf Key, FL
DATE PREPARED: September 25, 2009
SALARY: $35,000/yr + benefits

The No Invasives Left Behind program implements exotic plant control projects on private and public lands throughout the Florida Keys (Monroe County). It is supported by three grants from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Florida. Funding is secured annually, but the program is expected to receive continued funding.

The Invasive Species Program Coordinator participates in the management and coordination of the No Invasives Left Behind Program, and leads efforts to secure funding for future years. Duties are split between office work and field work.

Applicants should have good communication, organizational, and computer skills.

Duties will include one or more of the following functions:
•Supervises a seasonal invasive species control team
•Removes exotic plant species
•Coordinates community support and gives community presentations
•Selects priority sites for invasive species control and collects pre and post treatment vegetation data
•Maintains budgets, assists with grant reporting and grant writing
•May be asked to assist with unrelated vegetation monitoring projects

POSTING DEADLINE: Open until filled


Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director
22601 SW 152 Ave.
Miami, FL 33170

Email: bradley[at]


Florida's 2009 IP list now online

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s 2009 List of Invasive Plant Species is now online. It is also in the Fall 2009 Wildland Weeds, which you should be getting any day now. The brochure version is at the printer now.

Thanks so much to the List Committee for creation of the list, and to Karen Brown for putting it all together for print form.

Keith A. Bradley
Assistant Director
The Institute for Regional Conservation
Miami, Florida


Australian pine article

For those interested in reading about another "controversial" project to remove Australian pines -- this time in Miami. Link


Capital/Mohawk PRISM meeting October 9

The next meeting of the Capital/Mohawk PRISM will be at Schodack Island State Park on October 9 starting at noon. The meeting will include talks on restoration by George Robinson from SUNY Albany and Eric Kiviat from Hudsonia. Casey Holzworth will lead a field trip after the meeting. Hope to see you there.

Peg Sauer


New York Times Editorial: The Future of Our Parks

This week, PBS will broadcast Ken Burns’s new six-part series on the national parks, a chronicle of the rich 158-year history of what the series calls “America’s Best Idea” — setting aside remarkable places and landscapes for future generations to enjoy.

Mr. Burns’s documentary makes clear that no one should take that idea or the park system it created for granted. From the start, the project has been encumbered by political shortsightedness and inadequate financing, with the parks themselves constantly threatened by the encroachment of the world around them.

The parks’ future is the concern of a major new report from the National Parks Second Century Commission — an independent body organized and financed by the National Parks Conservation Association. It offers an unsparing look at the many problems that threaten the parks and sensible remedies for addressing them. [...]

The Park Service’s annual budget of $2.4 billion is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the total federal budget, and more generous annual appropriations would certainly seem within reach. But the commission would also create a tax-exempt national parks endowment to attract private money and help free park budgets from the ebb and flow of Congressional outlays.

Making sure that the system lives up to its inherent promise involves more than money. Given new threats from global warming and invasive species, the commission wants the service to strengthen its scientific capabilities. It also urges the service to broaden its educational mission to reach more young people.

In some ways, it’s a miracle that the park system is as resilient as it is. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said that he will take the commission’s recommendations seriously, and we hope President Obama will, too. The “best idea” needs to be protected and celebrated.

Read the editorial at link.


Maine DEP fighting hydrilla in Damariscotta Lake

hydrillaJEFFERSON (NEWS CENTER) -- Like a shorefront SWAT team, workers from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) descended on a small lagoon on Damariscotta lake on Monday.

Their target is a flimsy, green underwater plant, called Hydrilla, which was discovered growing in that lagoon.

Paul Gregory of the DEP describes Hydrilla as one of the most aggressive of all invasive plant species. The DEP and lakeside property owners want to stop the plant before it can spread.

The Hydrilla was discovered just last week by a resident who had been to a training class held by the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association. He was paddling a kayak around, in search of invasive plants when he spotted the Hydrilla.

The DEP has placed screens across the two openings to the lagoon, to try to prevent pieces of the plant from floating out. And they're laying plastic mats on the lake bottom, just outside the lagoon, to stop the plant from taking root in new areas.

Damariscotta Lake is only the second place in Maine where Hydrilla has been found. The other is Pickerel Pond in Livermore.

Paul Gregory of the DEP says the plant is a real threat to water quality and to the general health of lakes and ponds, because it can choke off all other vegetation, use degrade water quality and eventually turn an area into swamp.

Damariscotta Lake is a large lake, but both the DEP and the Watershed Association say they were surprised at the Hydrilla find, and are treating it very seriously.

Photo courtesy of



Give birds a break: Lock up the cat

By NATALIE ANGIER, New York Times Science Section

Halloween came to our house early this year.

The other day I looked out the window and saw a strange black cat sauntering through our yard. It was a beautiful animal, with bright penny eyes and fur that gleamed like a newly polished shoe, but still the sight turned me ghoulish. So I ran outside, hollered, stamped my feet and finally managed to chase the little witch’s sidekick away. [...]

Experts disagree sharply these days over how to manage our multitudes of stray and feral cats, with some saying off to the pound, others preaching a policy of catch, neuter and release, and everybody wishing there were other options to click. Yet when it comes to pet policy, and the question of whether it’s O.K. to let your beloved Cleo, Zydeco or Cocoa wander at will and have their Hobbesian fun, the authorities on both sides of the alley emphatically say, No. There are enough full-time strays; don’t add in your chipper. It is not fair to the songbirds and other animals that domestic cats kill by the billions each year. New research shows that neighborhoods like mine are particularly treacherous, Bermuda Triangles for baby birds.

Peter P. Marra, a research scientist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoo, pointed out that cats were the only domesticated animal permitted to roam. “Pigs have to stay in pens, chickens have to stay in pens,” he said. “Why are cats allowed to run around and do what their instincts tell them to do, which is rampage?” [...]

In the view of many wildlife researchers, a pet cat on a lap may be a piece of self-cleaning perfection, but a pet cat on the loose is like a snakefish or English ivy: an invasive species. Although domestic cats have been in this country since the colonial era, they are thought to be the descendants of a Middle Eastern species of wild cat, and there is nothing quite like them native to North America. As a result, many local prey species are poorly equipped to parry a domestic cat’s stealth approach. “People fool themselves into believing that by simply putting a bell on a cat they could prevent mortality to birds,” Mr. Schroeder said. “But a bell ringing means nothing to a bird.”

Read the full article at link.


New invasive species in Missisquoi Bay, Vermont

State Natural Resources officials say that variable-leaved watermilfoil is now in the bay. It can "hitchhike" on boats and other recreational equipment, and it's also a popular aquarium species. Researchers say the plant is a concern because it can crowd out other beneficial plants.

Last year, the variable-leaved watermilfoil was spotted in Halls Lake in Newbury.



Fish and Wildlife Service releases its climate change plan

By Kim McGuire
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As part of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s push on climate change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released its plan to guide the agency’s future efforts regarding impacts on wildlife.

The plan, which is available for public review and comment over the next 60 days, will help navigate future responses to things like changing wildlife migration patterns, the spread of invasive species, changing precipitation patterns and rising sea levels.

“The growing impacts from climate change on wildlife, plants, and watersheds are a call to action,” said Tom Strickland, assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks. “These impacts call for a coordinated and strategic response from the Department and its bureaus. We will help lead a national response that is grounded in sound science, and adaptive, landscape-scale conservation approach , and collaboration with partners. This is a crucial first step in that direction.” [...]

Read the story at link.


Volunteers sought to remove invasive plants

West Hartford, Connecticut - The West Hartford Land Trust is asking for volunteers to help remove invasive plants from 1.5 acres about a mile from the town center.

The effort, the latest to clear the land of nonnative plants, will happen from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 10 at the parcel, 1157 Farmington Ave. People should bring their own gloves, pruners, loppers, bow saws or other tools, and should wear long pants, long sleeves and sturdy shoes. Lunch and drinks will be offered.

Those interested in volunteering may call 860-331-3241 and leave a message, or send an e-mail to info[at]


Woman campaigns for invasive plant removal in Vermont

By Dorothy Pellett,

CHARLOTTE — Susan Smith’s canoe was out of the water and parked on her lawn on a recent day — but Lake Champlain’s shorelines are never far from her thoughts.

For two summers, Smith has led a campaign to remove the invasive European frogbit plant from Town Farm Bay in Charlotte. Volunteers and employees removed seven tons of the leafy weed during a stretch of only seven weeks this summer.

Frogbit’s swift rate of growth threatens wildlife that depends on native plants, fish and insects for food. Smith and other volunteers have counted 41 species of frogs, turtles, snakes and birds, including several sightings of a Great White Egret.

Read the article at link.


Invasives threaten N.Y.'s natural order

By Michael Risinit,

EABIn the 1997 movie "Men in Black," the characters played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones work for an agency monitoring and managing alien activity on Earth. Their charges include a host of not-of-this-world creatures: worms that make a nice cup of coffee, large insects that drink sugar water and human-looking individuals blinking two sets of eyelids.

Of course, in the real world those don't exist (as far as we know, anyway). But other interlopers do, such as swallow-wort, zebra mussels, Chinese mitten crabs and northern snakeheads. They are among some 4,000 or so species in the United States that are both non-native (alien) and damaging to their new digs. Be they animal, plant or pathogen, such beings are called invasive species.

As a threat, invasives have been judged second only to habitat loss when it comes to a region's biodiversity - the abundance and variety of living things. Northern snakeheads, originally from China, can wipe out native fish populations. Chinese mitten crabs can be bad news for the Hudson River's blue crabs, and their burrowing can destabilize stream banks and earthen dams. Swallow-wort, imported from Europe, is a menace to monarchs. The butterflies are fooled into laying eggs on a plant that cannot support their offspring.

There's no official list yet of the dozens of invasive species calling New York home. But there's a definition. An invasive species is "non-native to the ecosystem under consideration, whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health," according to the Final Report of the New York State Invasive Species Task Force. That harm "must significantly outweigh any benefits," the 2005 report said.

Government and private organizations are trying to eradicate or control the ones here - mile-a-minute vine, golden nematode - and keep others at bay.

The plants, insects, diseases and fish that shouldn't be here, but are, can be the stuff of bad dreams. Ed McGowan, a science director for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, is part of a Lower Hudson Valley coalition addressing the threat of invasive species. Where others "see greenery, scenery," he sees trouble for the region's natural order. [...]

One of his current battles is with mile-a-minute weed, a kudzu-like vine capable of growing more than 20 feet in a year. It forms dense mats, chokes out native vegetation and can kill trees. The plant, a native of eastern Asia, was accidentally introduced in the 1930s when it hitchhiked with nursery stock. His weapon? Goats.

Two goats, on loan from the Glynwood Center in Philipstown, spent much of their summer on Stony Point's Iona Island, a former military complex now part of Bear Mountain State Park. The vine with triangular leaves and barbs wasn't their first choice to munch on, McGowan said, "but they got to it eventually."

"It involves a lot of management. You need fences. You need to be concerned about coyotes in this area (who could decide to dine on the goats)," McGowan said as an osprey flapped above the nearby Hudson River.

The pair were charged with eating the plant into submission, which the goats did until they were relocated to another enclosure. That happened every 12 days. The goats left their former pens as smooth as putting greens, McGowan said. But shortly afterward, the areas were again lush with mile-a-minute.

Sheep, instead, were on duty at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River. There, they were shepherded among several plots every three days. Their periodic return seems to keep mile-a-minute vine in check, compared to the goats' eat-it-and-leave-it approach.

Their reappearance, said Gary Kleppel, an Albany University, SUNY, professor, and his graduate student, Caroline Girard, mimics the behavior of deer and other plant-eating animals that would intermittently pass by and dine. Native grass was starting to sprout in once mile-a-minute-only territory.

"These two plants are in a desperate battle for dominance," said Kleppel, director of the school's Biodiversity Conservation Program. "If you take its (mile-a-minute) edge away, look what happens." [...]

Emerald ash borers, a beetle whose larvae can wipe out ash trees, probably arrived in the United States on wood crates and pallets aboard cargo ships or airplanes coming from its native Asia. It was found this year in western New York.

The round goby, a fish native to the Black and Caspian seas, competes with and preys on native fish. It has been found near Buffalo and Rochester, most likely descended from those that hitched a ride in ships' ballast water and were discharged into the Great Lakes.

"It's hard not to answer ‘all of them,' " said Steve Sanford, director of the state's Office of Invasive Species Coordination, when asked which invader he worries about most.

His office is to send a report to the state Legislature by January listing New York's invasive species and how to deal with them.

"More and more, society is realizing all the harm that comes from invasive species," he said. "When it upsets the balance, usually the system functions to a certain degree, but certain things are going to be lost. It depends on how much you value biodiversity."

Along with reshuffling nature, those invading plants and animals carry a financial impact. The annual cost of invasive species to the U.S. economy is about $138 billion, according to the federal government, including agricultural losses, infrastructure damage and management costs. Zebra mussels - small mollusks originally from Russia - alone account for about $270 million in economic damage in North America, said Dave Strayer of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook in Dutchess County. He characterized the figure as an underestimate.

He and his colleagues have been studying zebra mussels in the Hudson River since their appearance in 1991. The thumb-size shellfish can clog water pipes and power-plant intakes.

"Zebra mussels came into the river and turned it upside down. In the last few years, we've seen evidence that parts of the river are coming back," Strayer said.

The mussels upset the river's food chain by sucking out much of the phytoplankton - the tiny plant life - upon which other river creatures depend. Recently, Strayer and fellow scientists have found fewer older and bigger zebra mussels in the river, leaving them to wonder what's causing the change. While the future of zebra mussels in the Hudson plays out, he said, the average person's concern should be about invasive species in general. More needs to be done to focus attention on the issue, Strayer said.

"Let's stop it. Let's do better," he said. "We've been very slow in coming around to controlling invasive species. But we're not taking this problem seriously enough."

Read the full article at link.

PHOTO: New York DEC forester Michael Callan shows a sample of an emerald ash borer, an invasive species of insect, at Graham Hills Park in Mount Pleasant. (Stuart Bayer/The Journal News)


Mile-a-minute vine confirmed in two new counties in Massachusetts

Mile-a-minute vine (Polygonum perfoliatum), an invasive vine native to eastern Asia, has been confirmed in two new counties in Massachusetts.

Also known as "devil's tail" or "Asiatic tear-thumb," mile-a-minute vine was first discovered in Massachusetts in 2006 in two locations: Falmouth (Barnstable County) and Milton (Norfolk County). Through a multi-agency effort to uncover new populations of this pervasive weed before it becomes established in Massachusetts, mile-a-minute vine was confirmed this past summer in the towns of Greenfield and Erving (Franklin County) and in Littleton (Middlesex County). In addition, a report from Boston in August led state officials to two seedlings which were immediately removed. A survey of the Boston site revealed no other mile-a-minute plants.

The plants found in Greenfield were removed after identification was confirmed, and state officials will continue to monitor the site over the next several years to remove any new seedlings that may be found. The mile-a-minute vine populations in Erving and Littleton are currently being assessed to determine the best way to manage them. The previously known populations of mile-a-minute vine in Milton and Falmouth are being managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, with the goal of eradicating the plants.

Mile-a-minute vine can be recognized by its perfectly triangular leaves, barbed stems, and clusters of metallic-blue berries. If left alone, this vine can quickly cover large areas and smother any plants in its path. Several other vines may be confused with this invasive species, including bindweed, fleecevine, and Asiatic bittersweet. The University of Connecticut offers a comparison of similar species on their website:

For more information about mile-a-minute vine, or to report a potential sighting in Massachusetts, visit


National Park Service Internships Available

Looking for an opportunity to see many National Parks in the southeastern US and assist in preserving their precious natural and cultural resources?

The Student Conservation Association, in partnership with the National Park Service NPS), is assisting in a nationwide effort to eradicate invasive, exotic plants from NPS lands. After habitat loss, invasive, exotic species are considered the greatest threat to global diversity.

The NPS Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team (SE-EPMT) is looking for interns to be on a traveling team to manage invasive, exotic plants in 18 NPS units. These parks are located in the Piedmont, Appalachian Highlands and the Cumberland Plateau provinces in seven southeastern states (KY, TN, VA, NC, AL, NC, and SC). Park sites include Cumberland Gap National Historic Park (KY/TN/VA), Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (TN/KY), Obed Wild and Scenic River (TN), Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA) and Mammoth Cave National Park (KY).

We are based in Asheville, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the gateway to the Smoky Mountains National Park. The Asheville area has a thriving arts community, a vibrant and inviting downtown, diverse outdoor adventures, and many historic and architectural attractions. Assistance with housing is possible.

The SE-EPMT typically works two types of schedule: either four 10 hour days with three days off or eight 10 hour days with six days off. Four day weeks are usually Monday thru Thursday and eight day weeks are Monday thru Monday.

Position Duties: Implement and document invasive plant management control methods including manual, mechanical and chemical techniques using chainsaws, pole saws, brushcutters, hand tools, manual and gas powered sprayers and GPS. The goal is to protect National Park Service sites from these exotic fauna, including Japanese Honeysuckle, Japanese Spirea, Coltsfoot, Privet, and Kudzu.

Training Opportunities Include: Safe and effective use of chainsaws and other power tools; safe and effective use of herbicides; use of personal protective equipment; safety-first aid and CPR; ATV training and operation; defensive driving; Red Card (wildland fire fighter)certification; use of GPS/GIS and various database and computer programs.

Minimum Requirements: Applicant must be 25 years or under, have a valid drivers license, have reliable transportation to office site in Asheville, NC, be capable of navigating rough terrain carrying heavy loads (40lbs+) under potential extreme weather conditions.

Projected Start Date: October 19, 2009

For more information please contact::

Nancy Fraley
National Park Service
Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team
67 Ranger Drive
Asheville, NC 28805
828 - 296 - 0850 x100


Toby Obenauer
Team Leader
Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team
67 Ranger Drive
Asheville, NC 28805


Weevil army attacks weeds

By YVONNE NAVA, NBC Connecticut

weevilCall in the wee black weevils! An army of them is being used to fight a problem in Greenwich. Scientists are releasing the insects to get rid of the fast-growing invasive weed known as the "mile-a-minute vine." The plant grows 6 inches per day and blankets shrubs, hedges and trees.

“It’s like a wall of green in some places,” Donna Ellis, a scientist at the University of Connecticut who is also a member of the state’s Invasive Plant Working Group, told “We could double the number of weevils next year.”

Scientists plan to unleash 7,000 of the little weevils in five towns. Fairfield County, which includes Greenwich, will be the focus of next year’s weevil release because scientists are finding the heaviest concentration of mile-a-minute there.

The fancy name for this vine, which is native to eastern Asia, is Persicaria perfoliata. Officials with Audubon Connecticut say the weed probably was introduced in our state via a load of trees and shrubs trucked to Greenwich Audubon land from Pennsylvania.

So far, the vine has been spotted in five of the state’s eight counties.

“Instead of seeing the trees and the view, the view is just blocked,” Ellis said of an infestation in Quinnipiac River State Park in North Haven after visiting a monitoring site this week.

Read the article at link.


Genome of Irish potato famine pathogen decoded

By Nicole Davis, Broad Communications

A large international research team has decoded the genome of the notorious organism that triggered the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century and now threatens this season’s tomato and potato crops across much of the US.

Published in the September 9 online issue of the journal Nature, the study reveals that the organism boasts an unusually large genome size — more than twice that of closely related species — and an extraordinary genome structure, which together appear to enable the rapid evolution of genes, particularly those involved in plant infection. These data expose an unusual mechanism that enables the pathogen to outsmart its plant hosts and may help researchers unlock new ways to control it.

“This pathogen has an exquisite ability to adapt and change, and that’s what makes it so dangerous,” said senior author Chad Nusbaum, co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “We now have a comprehensive view of its genome, revealing the unusual properties that drive its remarkable adaptability. Hopefully, this knowledge can foster novel approaches to diagnose and respond to outbreaks.”

“Our findings suggest a ‘two-speed’ genome, meaning that different parts of the genome are evolving at different rates,” said co-lead author Sophien Kamoun, head of the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK. “Future sequencing of additional strains and close relatives of this pathogen will help test this hypothesis and could transform our understanding of how it adapts to immune plants."

Read the full article at link.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week of September 21, 2009

Updated 9/26

Registration information for November Invasive Species Workshop


The November Invasive Species In-service Education Opportunity is part of the larger Cornell Cooperative Extension Annual November Agriculture and Food System In-service.

The website and registration form for the In-service is now available.

To view the website go to

The on-line registration is at

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The focus of the in-service this year will be on a number of high-profile invasive species, their characteristics, current research, and management/control. Working agenda follows:

• Tuesday a.m.
o NYS invasive species response updates
o NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse update
o NY Invasive Species Research Institute update
o iMapInvasives update

• Tuesday p.m.
o Invasive plant pathogens
o Invasive insects & forest pests, Part 1

• Wednesday a.m.
o Invasive insects and forest pests, Part2
o Aquatic invasive species, Part 1

• Wednesday p.m.
o Terrestrial invasive species

• Thursday a.m.
o Population level impacts of invasive species
o Ecosystem level impacts of invasive species

• Thursday p.m.
o "Working with the Media" a special training session on media outreach

Charles R. O'Neill, Jr.
Sr. Extension Specialist
Cornell University/New York Sea Grant
Director, NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse
Coordinator, Cornell Invasive Species Program
E-mail: cro4[at]
Web site: NYIS.INFO


Aquatic Invasive Species Vector Management: A Prevention Solution Workshop

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Panel of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and Maryland Sea Grant invite your attendance at a one-day workshop:

Aquatic Invasive Species Vector Management: A Prevention Solution

Date: December 2, 2009
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

For registration and full details visit:

This one-day event will bring regional attention to aquatic invasive species introduction pathways.

The Mid-Atlantic region has an important and timely opportunity to move beyond managing individual species and toward a more holistic approach – managing the pathways or vectors for invasions.

The workshop will focus on preventing the introduction of non-native aquatic species through vector management.

The workshop outcome will provide recommendations on strategies states, local governments, NGOs, legislatures, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Mid-Atlantic Panel, and other groups and individuals can pursue to manage vectors and prevent unwanted introductions of non-native species.

Please come to this workshop ready to participate and contribute to developing recommendations for advancing invasive species vector research and management.

See you there!

Best Regards,

Fredrika Moser

Workshop steering committee: Jonathan McKnight (MD DNR), Fredrika Moser (MDSG), Lisa Moss (USFWS), Read Porter (ELI), Greg Ruiz (SERC) and Mario Tamburri (UMCES, ACT).


Parrotfeather found in southern NJ

We've just recently identified Myriophyllum aquaticum in a stream in southern New Jersey. It is the first population thought to be overwintering in the state though it has been found in the state before.

Yesterday we kayaked a stretch of the stream-that being our only access- and found that it was found in pockets the entire stretch of at least a mile to the dam where we finished. In one area there was just enough room to get through with the kayaks because most of the width of the stream was covered with it.

We have yet to check below the dam because of private property issues and have not checked the entirety of the headwater areas.

I've done some general reading on control of this plant and it seems very challenging. Does anyone have any firsthand experience and/or recommendations as to control of M. aquaticum?


Renée Brecht
Associate Director
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries


Watermilfoil found in Missisquoi Bay, Vermont

Variable-leaved invasive confirmed by genetic analysis

WATERBURY, VT – Aquatic biologists at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources have confirmed that the invasive plant, variable-leaved watermilfoil, has been found in the southern end of Missisquoi Bay.

Similar to the native whorled watermilfoil, a rare plant species in the state, the variable-leaved watermilfoil was confirmed by genetic analysis this week from samples pulled during a routine search last month for water chestnut in the bay. The genetic analysis was conducted by Dr. Ryan Thum of Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Lake Champlain is the second confirmation of variable-leaved watermilfoil in Vermont. The first was found in Halls Lake in Newbury in 2008. The invasive plant has also been found in waters of New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Quebec.

Based on the preliminary searching done in Missisquoi Bay last month, variable-leaved watermilfoil appears to be widespread in a large wetland complex of the southern portion of the bay and control options may be limited. ANR staff expect to conduct further surveys of the site in the next week or so.

Variable-leaved watermilfoil can be difficult to control once a population is established. Like Eurasian watermilfoil, which was confirmed in Vermont in 1962, variable-leaved watermilfoil is able to grow in a wide variety of environmental conditions, is aggressive and grows rapidly. Dense growth of variable-leaved watermilfoil crowds out beneficial native aquatic plants and can impair recreational uses including boating, fishing and swimming.

Spread of this species occurs by stem pieces, roots and seeds. Plant parts can easily “hitchhike” on recreational equipment if not removed. Variable-leaved watermilfoil is also a popular aquarium trade species, which could be a possible vector for invasive aquatic plant spread.

Under Vermont’s Quarantine Rule, variable-leaved watermilfoil is a prohibited species. ANR staff, in cooperation with the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, inspects Vermont aquarium retailers annually. In 2008, officials found two retailers in southern Vermont selling variable-leaved watermilfoil.

The Agency of Natural Resources recommends the following to prevent spread of this nuisance plant:

Inspect boat, trailer, motor and other equipment for attached plant or animal material.

Remove all plant and animal material.

Discard removed material in a trash receptacle or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of them washing into any water body.

Drain all water from boat, boat engine, and other equipment.

Rinse all boat and trailer parts with tap water (preferably hot, high pressure).

Dry boat, trailer and equipment out of water and in sun for at least five days.

Become a VIP - Vermont Invasive Patroller - and monitor local waterbodies for new introductions of invasive species.

Attend a training session and learn how to identify and search for invasive aquatic plant and animals as well as learning about native aquatic plants and animals and their habitats.

Dispose of unwanted aquarium plants and animals in the trash. Don’t release any aquarium plants or animals into the wild.


Online national phragmites survey

Laura Martin, a graduate student, and Dr. Bernd Blossey in Cornell University's Department of Natural Resources would like you to participate in an online survey on Phragmites australis management options.

Please complete this on-line survey (link below) to the best of your knowledge. It should take about 15-30 minutes to answer. You do not need to be an expert on Phragmites management, nor does your organization need to have managed for Phragmites in the past. They are interested in your opinions.

Phragmites survey


Reminder - Comment to APHIS re: regs for plant imports - assoc. pest

Message from Faith T. Campbell

Dear forest pest mavens:

At the end of July I alerted you to the fact that USDA APHIS is seeking comments on a proposal to strengthen rules governing imports of plants to create a new category - "Not Approved (for import) Pending Pest Risk Assessment" (NAPPRA). The creation of a NAPPRA category would allow APHIS to suspend importation of plants suspected of carrying pests until a full risk assessment has been completed. [The new category would also address plant species that might be invasive or weedy.]

The attached document (link) developed by the Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases' Workgroup #1 (Prevent Introduction of New Pests and Diseases), contains a set of points you might consider making in a comment letter to APHIS regarding its proposed NAPPRA category.

I hope you will consider submitting comments - and - further - consider basing those comments on these points. If you decide to submit comments, please follow these instructions:

1. Go to
2. Click box for "open for comment"
3. Enter "plants for planting" in the keyword box
4. Scroll down the list to find the "Importation of plants for planting ..."
5. Click on "submit comments"

Strengthening the Q-37 regulations (which govern imports of plants that might be carrying non-native forest insects and diseases) is a vitally important step in closing the pathway by which so many damaging forest pests have been introduced. See attached Federal Register notice for more information.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Faith T. Campbell

P.S. If you like these results of the Dialogue's cooperative efforts, consider engaging. You might participate in the upcoming meeting or join one of the working groups - which works through email and conference calls.


Scientists find evidence of Casuarina hybrids in Florida

By Stephanie Yao

Hybrids of the invasive Australian plant species Casuarina exist in Florida, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and university cooperators have found.

These fast-growing, pine-like trees were historically planted widely as ornamentals and along boulevards in south Florida, and are currently being proposed as a windbreak in citrus groves. However, the trees are frequently the tallest in the canopy and can be very damaging during storms and hurricanes. Casuarina has also become an environmental problem, invading and altering natural habitats including Everglades National Park, home to many threatened and endangered species.

Based on physical characteristics, scientists have long suspected hybridization among the three Casuarina species in Florida—C. glauca, C. cunninghamiana and C. equisetifolia—but it is difficult to verify hybridization by these characteristics alone.

DNA tests conducted by botanist John Gaskin, research leader of the ARS Pest Management Research Unit in Sidney, Mont., confirm the existence of hybrids. Examining the DNA, according to Gaskin, allows for better understanding of the identity of the plants and where they came from, and helps explain how these novel hybrids have become so invasive.

Gaskin collaborated with entomologist Greg Wheeler, with the ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Matt Purcell, director of ARS' Australian Biological Control Laboratory in Brisbane; and Gary Taylor, a research associate with the University of Adelaide. The team collected leaf samples from Casuarina species in Australia and Florida. Gaskin then used genetic markers to compare the collections and confirm which species and hybrids currently exist in Florida.

The researchers found that hybrid combinations of C. glauca and C. equisetifolia are present across a wide range of southern Florida. They also found C. glauca and C. cunninghamiana hybridization in one location.

The scientists did not, however, find evidence of hybrids in Australia. This could be problematic for biocontrol efforts, which rely heavily on co-evolution of biocontrol agents and target species to insure the highest rates of effectiveness. Potential biocontrols must now prove effective against parental species and hybrids.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week of September 14, 2009

The following article refers to a lake in Indiana, but I thought it was informative for us folks in the east.

Invasive plant battle appears won at one lake

The invasive Brazilian elodea, a plant commonly used in home aquariums, appears to have been eradicated from Griffy Lake, a 109-acre impoundment near Bloomington, Indiana after a multi-year battle waged by the Department of Natural Resources, pointing to chance for success elsewhere in the state.

"The last Brazilian elodea observed at the lake was at the beginning of the 2007 treatment season," said Doug Keller, aquatic invasive species coordinator with DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife. "We've performed extensive searches on numerous occasions each year since the plant was last seen, and we have not been able to locate any sign of it again.

"With all the work and money put into this project to eradicate an invasive plant species new to Indiana, it is exciting to be able to claim a victory."

The suspected source of Brazilian elodea establishment in Griffy Lake was an aquarium dump likely done in the early 2000s. Cost of the project was approximately $150,000 ($1,400 per acre), including herbicide and its application, and intensive monitoring and surveys.

The DNR applied whole-lake herbicide treatments in 2006 and 2007, an aggressive plan that initially depressed the entire plant community of the lake, and that some feared might cause permanent damage to both native plant life and the fishery. Signs are that plant and fish communities are now as healthy as before the invasive plant's proliferation.

"Fortunately there is a native plant seed bank in the sediment that was just waiting to explode once the controls ceased," Keller said. "Prior to the eradication project there were typically six to seven native aquatic plant species in the lake. In the three plant surveys performed this year there were six and seven plant species again observed and they were well spread through the available habitat."

Water clarity has also improved dramatically, from 8 feet of visibility before the eradication to 13 feet this year.

Reducing aquatic vegetation, often using herbicides, is a fisheries management tool commonly employed to improve growth of panfish as a result of increased predation by bass. Dave Kittaka, DNR fisheries biologist, recently surveyed the fish community at the lake and found positive signs.

"Bluegill and redear sunfish growth and size structure increased dramatically compared to an earlier survey performed in 2004," Kittaka said. "The likely reason for the improvement was the reduction in vegetation coverage in 2006 and 2007."

The DNR will do occasional monitoring of Griffy to detect if the plant returns or other undesirable species are introduced and continue the fight elsewhere, as needed, both with treatment and education.

DNR has also eliminated Brazilian elodea from a number of smaller bodies of water, mostly in Southern Indiana, where the plant was introduced before DNR implemented regulations banning outdoor use of the plant.

"There remain a few bodies of water with Brazilian elodea we have yet to tackle but fortunately we have found tools that appear to successfully put an end to this very aggressive plant," Keller said.

The plant remains a popular species for indoor aquarium use, and that's where it needs to stay in order to prevent future costly eradication projects.

"Aquarium owners must realize the damage they can cause as a result of a seemingly innocent act such as releasing plants and fish that they have nurtured for so long," Keller said. "When no longer wanted, aquarium plants should be disposed of in household trash and unwanted fish should either be given to others who have the ability to care for them or else euthanized.

"They should never be dumped in any body of water."

Otherwise, an apparently successful, but long and expensive process may have to be redone at Griffy Lake or started at another body of water.

Read the story at link.


Volunteers needed in Massachusetts

Volunteers are needed NOW to assist the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources with ALB tree surveys in the Boston and Springfield areas. The surveys are being held to train volunteers and to raise awareness about the beetle in parts of the state where ALB is more likely to show up (but hasn't yet!):

- Boston: THIS THURSDAY, Sept. 17, 12pm-1:30pm, Boston Public Garden
- Springfield: Saturday, Sept. 26th, 10am-11:30am, South Springfield, meeting location TBD

No experience necessary, we'll train you on site! RSVP by calling 617-626-1735 or email jennifer.forman-orth[at]


New invasive plant emerges

BY BETTY JESPERSEN, Morning Sentinal

Those eye-catching, tall, magenta-colored perennials growing near ditches, along lakes and in wetlands may be pretty enough for a fall wild flower bouquet.

Don't even think about it, say plant experts. The plant is among the most aggressive, invasive species to spread its seeds and roots in Maine.

Purple loosestrife was introduced from Europe into the United States and Canada in the 1800s for ornamental and medicinal uses. It is now growing throughout Great Britain, across central and southern Europe to Asia, China and India and in the United States, is considered to be an invasive species.

"It is quite adaptable and can live in climates from northern Ontario to Texas, and it has tremendous potential for reproduction," said Lois Stack, a horticulture specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Read the full story at link.


Preventing Hurricane Havoc: Environmental Teams Tackle the Invasive Plants and Weeds that Impede Flood Control during Massive Storms

Yahoo News

Invasive plants and weeds can wreak havoc during a hurricane by jamming storm-water pumps, blocking water flow and promoting devastating floods. The Weed Science Society of America recommends a proactive, integrated approach for managing the problem and keeping any overgrowth under control.

Lawrence, Kansas (PRWEB) September 14, 2009 -- When a hurricane roars inland, most low-lying coastal states rely on a network of pumps and canals to dissipate the storm surge and protect both lives and property. But add invasive plants and weeds to the mix, and you have a recipe for a disaster. Overgrown vegetation can wreak havoc and promote flooding by jamming pumps and blocking water flow.

According to the Weed Science Society of America, common culprits include floating water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), submersed hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) and other fast-growing water plants.

The problem is especially pervasive in Florida, where public lakes are connected by creeks, rivers or constructed canals that ultimately lead to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the largest pumps in the world are used to manage storm runoff and keep the surrounding areas from flooding.

"Invasive plants tend to coalesce at flood control structures in lakes and canals and at bends in river channels," says Jeffrey Schardt, environmental administrator for invasive plant management with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "If left unmanaged, they can clog pumps, impede water flow and make flooding much, much worse. It's imperative to have the overgrowth under control before a hurricane barrels inland."

Schardt says problems associated with invasive plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce reached crisis proportions along Florida's waterways during the 1960s. But officials learned from that experience and have adopted routine maintenance controls to help prevent a recurrence.

"We've found a single patch of water hyacinth can double in size in as little as two weeks during the growing season - forming large rafts that can be carried by wind and water currents, clog pumps and cause flooding," Schardt says. "Time is not our friend, so we concentrate on frequent, small-scale control operations to prevent large-scale problems from developing."

In addition to water hyacinth and water lettuce, invasive plants and even some native, emergent plants can form dense floating mats - called "tussocks" by aquatic plant managers. These floating weed rafts are a worldwide phenomenon found in places such as Argentina, Australia, Finland, India, Japan and Kenya. Emergent plants like primrose willow (ludwigia) "tie" the rafts together with their roots, stems and branches to form larger masses.

Florida environmental teams use boats to patrol shorelines and conduct regular monthly or bimonthly inspections for invasive species that can form tussocks, and herbicides are applied to control small patches as they emerge. The herbicides selected take into account how the body of water is used and any native plants that may be comingled with the invasive species.

Read the full story at link.


Invasive bugs threaten ash trees in New York State

By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Bill Steele wants to know how big league hitters such as David Ortiz, Joe Mauer and Chipper Jones are doing because he makes their bats.

This year, however, he’s also keeping a close eye on a fast-moving insect that threatens to destroy the Northern White Ash tree supply that baseball bats are made from.

The emerald ash borer was first detected near Detroit in 2002 and has spread to numerous states, killing millions of trees in the process. It’s already been found in western New York and the state has begun testing for its presence in the Adirondacks as well.

“It’s going to affect everybody who’s working with ash,” said Steele, of Rawlings Sporting Goods in Dolgeville, Herkimer County. “They get under the bark and kill the tree. Who knows what’s going to happen?”

Rawlings’ factory in Dolgeville makes about 30 percent of the bats used by major league players. Wood comes from a 200-mile radius from the Adirondacks to Pennsylvania.

Read the full story at link.


Invasive Species Biologist (regular, full-time)
The Nature Conservancy

Albany, New York State

This position is with the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) in Albany, New York.



A new hemlock pest arrives in Maine

KENNEBUNKPORT — Only a year after hemlock woolly adelgid was detected in Kennebunkport forests, a second destructive exotic pest of hemlocks -- elongate hemlock scale -- has been found within the same neighborhood.

Combined, these two pests are more than just double trouble for hemlocks -- their impacts are synergistic, according to Maine Forest Service entomologists.

The latest bug invader also can be a threat to spruce and fir trees, they warn.

“We're extremely concerned about the arrival of this pest,” said Allison Kanoti, a Maine Forestry Service entomologist.

“Scale populations tend to show up and grow more rapidly in the presence of hemlock woolly adelgid, which already is in the immediate area, and they cause a more rapid decline in tree health.”

Surveys of the affected neighborhood are under way, Kanoti said, and treatment of the infestation is planned.

Late last month, a landowner in Cape Porpoise noticed his planted hemlocks weren't growing well and submitted a sample of blighted foliage to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Insect specialist Clay Kirby identified the problem as the scale insect Fiorinia externa, known more commonly as elongate hemlock scale, or Fiorinia scale.

The pest most likely arrived in Kennebunkport with the planted trees and may not yet have spread to the forest.

The Maine Forest Service will be taking measures to contain the pest and keep it from spreading, Kanoti said.

Elongate hemlock scale, which moves on the wind and by birds, was first found in the U.S. in 1908 in New York; it has since spread south to Georgia and South Carolina, west to Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota and, in this region, had until recently only been found in southern New York and New England.

Last year, New Hampshire forest health staff found it in a forest in southern New Hampshire.

The site in Kennebunkport is the only known occurrence of elongate hemlock scale in Maine.

Read the full story at link.


Neighborhood Watch: Early Detection and Rapid Response to Biological Invasion along US Trade Pathways

This 2009 report offers recommendations to improve biosecurity measures at U.S. ports, as well as a possible funding mechanism based upon the “polluter pays” principle.

Neighborhood Watch


Connecticut Invasive Species Program, September 30

An invasive species educational program will be be held in Torrington, CT on Sept. 30. We will be discussing mile-a-minute vine, Asian longhorned beetle, and emerald ash borer, focusing especially on recognition of each species and procedures to follow if they are found.

Conservation/Inland Wetland Commissions, Public Works Department staff, forestry personnel, and the general public are encouraged to attend this free event. Forestry CEU credits will be available. This event is sponsored by the University of Connecticut, the City of Torrington Conservation Commission, and the Northwest Conservation District.

Please contact Kim Barbieri, City of Torrington Wetlands Enforcement Officer (860-489-2220) or the Northwest Conservation District (860-626-7222) if you have any questions about this event. The workshop will be held at the UConn Torrington campus on Sept. 30 from 7-9 pm.


Aquatic Invasive Species in New York: An Environmental Forum, September 25

Friday, 1:30 - 5:00

Biological session begins at 1:30 - Policy session begins at 3:00
University at Buffalo – North Campus
Center for the Performing Arts – Screening Room

Free and open to the public.

Aquatic invasive species have had profound impacts on the aquatic ecosystems in New York State. Join us to learn more about the biology of some of these invasive species and the policy issues involved in managing and preventing the spread of these exotics.

Panel discussion with question & answer period will follow presentations.

  • Kit Kennedy, Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection, NYS Attorney General’s Office
  • Dr. Alexander Karatayov, Great Lakes Center, Buffalo State College
  • Dr. Christopher Pennuto, Buffalo State College
  • Charles O'Neill, Coordinator, Cornell Invasive Species Program
Refreshments will be served.

Off-campus guests will need a parking pass. For more information or to request a parking pass, contact: New York Sea Grant, Great Lakes Program – SUNY Buffalo, (716) 645-3610, e-mail: sgbuffal[at]


Disease of unknown origin killing Japanese stiltgrass

By Russ Richardson, Hur Herald

During the past fifteen years the introduced weed Japanese Stiltgrass has spread across the region to become one of the most serious problems impacting the long term health and productivity of our native woodland.

Late this summer, a still unidentified Stiltgrass disease has become more widespread and it was recently confirmed by researchers at Indiana University.

So far, the disease has been confirmed in Calhoun, Roane and Lincoln Counties, West Virginia.

Stiltgrass grows very thickly and produces a heavy thatch when it dies in the fall. It is extremely flammable and very slow to rot.

It is a very coarse grass that is not very palatable, not sought after or eaten by deer, cows, horses, sheep or goats.

Because of the rapid growth and spread of stiltgrass and the combination of environmental problems that follow an invasion, it has become one of the most studied weeds in the country.

There is increasing evidence that Stiltgrass plants may change forest soils in ways that benefit stiltgrass survival.

It is now viewed as a very serious threat to the long term health and productivity of our natural hardwood forest.

Japanese stiltgrass control is very difficult, producing heavy amounts of seed with rapid spreading.

The stiltgrass disease has an unknown origin and it is yet to be found whether it is related to any known illness or disease in our native plants.

Samples of diseased plants have been sent to both WVU and Indiana University and researchers are working to identify the disease. Because so little is known about the disease and its origin and whether it is a virus, fungus or bacteria, or whether it has the potential to become valuable as a tool in Stiltgrass control.

However, the discovery and confirmation of something killing Japanese Stiltgrass has excited botanists, conservationists and ecological researchers across the country.

If local property owners have noticed stiltgrass plants dying they are encouraged to call the WV Department of Agriculture in Charleston at 304-558-2212 to report the mortality.

Read the story and view photos at link.

Update: The disease will be the subject of a meeting of the Maryland Invasive Pest Council on September 23. The meeting will be held at the USDA national Agricultural Research Library. It looks like the disease could be a fungus. Additional samples have been sent out for study.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Week of August 31, 2009

Updated September 6

Schumer says he’ll seek more money to fight invasives

By NATHAN BROWN, Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer

Hilary_SmithTUPPER LAKE - Although many of the more harmful invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle, haven't been found in the Adirondacks, they are believed to be spreading through the state.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said on Thursday afternoon he will push for funding for his four-point plan to limit the spread of invasives and stop them before they get here.

"A stitch in time saves nine," Schumer said at The Wild Center.

Schumer said he will push to raise funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service by $35 million to combat the Asian longhorned beetle and $39.7 million for the ash borer. Schumer said federal help is needed to combat these pests, due to the limited resources of local governments and private groups to deal with them.

Schumer also said he would push for $3.1 million in stimulus for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to fight the ash borer, and $2.5 million more for the DEC to run educational programs to limit the spread of invasives.

"(Education) really stops these things," Schumer said. "People who love the outdoors care about it; they're willing to be educated."

These programs educate people on things such as not moving firewood from areas infected with these wood-boring pests.

Finally, Schumer said, funding for the Interagency Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, which coordinates federal responses to invasive aquatic pests, should be raised to $20.3 million, from its current level of $5.3 million.

"It costs literally pennies in the federal scheme of things, and it will save us millions," Schumer said of his plan.

Hilary Smith, of Saranac Lake, director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, said invasive species are "on the rise and rapidly accelerating." She and Schumer mentioned several reasons for the faster spread, including the increase in commerce over farther distances and climate change, which allows invasives that need warmer climates to move farther north.

Smith said her program has more than 300 volunteers, who have surveyed more than 200 lakes for invasive plants, and she also spoke out about other efforts to map invasive species in the Adirondacks. For example, she said, volunteers have been tracking the spread of knotweed in the southwestern Adirondacks and garlic mustard in the Tri-Lakes area. They have also been working with anglers on the AuSable River so they clean their gear and waders and thus prevent the spread of invasive aquatic plants.

"We have the technology and information (to deal with invasives)," Smith said. "We just need the additional resources."

"She's our Paul Revere of invasive species," Schumer said.

Read the story at link.

Photo by Nathan Brown. Hilary Smith of Saranac Lake, director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, speaks Thursday at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

Vermont's tools in fight against invasive pest include Internet TV

By BOB AUDETTE, Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- By now, most people have heard of the Asian Longhorned Beetle and its threat to the area’s maple trees.

If the non-native pest, which was most recently found in Worcester, Mass., makes its way to Vermont, it could ruin the maple syrup industry, affect the fall foliage and tourism, put a strain on the hardwood harvest and have a devastating impact on the forest environment.

Helping to spread the word about the dangerous bug is, an online "station" with eight "channels." was started by Bill Heyman and Rick Garren, and is produced with the help of Kris Cain and Justin Looper.

The longhorned beetle could kill a third of the trees in the Green Mountain State, said Heyman.

"That’s just one bug."

And then there’s the Hemlock Woody Adelgid, another invasive species that threatens Vermont’s hemlock trees.

Not only could the bugs irrevocably change the Vermont landscape, they could devastate one of Vermont’s most important industries -- forest products.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle has caused tens of thousands of hardwood trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

"I went down to Worcester," said Heyman. "I couldn’t believe the devastation. I lost sleep over it."

In the video on, Jim Esden, of the Vermont Department of Forests & Parks, talks about how to identify the Asian Longhorned Beetle and the devastation the beetle can cause. He shows viewers an animated view of the beetle and how to spot the first symptoms of infestation.

"We have certainly been using a variety of media," said Esden. " has been really helpful and cooperative. They’ve done a great job."

Read the full story at link.


Video: Bugs gone wild? Invasive species combatants can become pests themselves

By Frank MacEachern, Greenwich Time

In a small wooded section of northwest Greenwich, tiny weevils have been busily eating their way through the mile-a-minute vine in an experiment to see if the invasive plant can be controlled.

But the weevil is itself a non-native species to North America, and scientists warn that great care must be taken when foreign species are introduced.

One of those scientists, Daniel Simberloff, professor of environmental science ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said numerous experiments in invasive plant control have gone awry.

He points to the cactus moth. It was successful in controlling the cactus pear in Australia. The pear, a non-native plant to that continent, was introduced in the 19th century. But it advanced rapidly and took over wide swaths of Australian farmland before the introduction of the cactus moth.

But that same moth, a South American native, poses a risk to the cactus pear industry in Mexico, Simberloff said. The moth was introduced in the Caribbean and has gradually spread north and may reach Mexico, he said.

"The Mexicans are very upset about this because the cactus pear is important to them both economically and culturally," he said.

In one of the most infamous disasters of biological control -- the use of species, including plants, animals and insects like weevils, to control invasive species -- farmers introduced the mongoose to Hawaii in the late 1800s to control rats that were feeding on sugar cane. Rather than control rats, the mongoose have preyed on the nests of endangered and threatened native birds.

In the past decade, researchers found that a parasitic fly, released as late as 1986 to combat gypsy and brown tail moths, is devastating the native silk moth population in New England.

Read the full story and watch the video at link.


Coast Guard Floats Rule on Invasive Species

The U.S. Coast Guard announced a proposed regulation today designed to prevent invasive species from entering U.S. waters. The rule would require ships to treat ballast water, which is pumped into tanks when leaving port and typically dumped at the incoming port, to kill microorganisms and larvae that come along for the ride. The Coast Guard says it "will work to elevate the priority" of research to figure out how effective the measure will be.

Ships are already required to exchange their ballast water at sea to get rid of any hitchhiking species, but the effectiveness varies quite a bit, depending in part on the ship's construction. The proposed regulation will require that ships have new technology on-board—such as filtration systems—that will reduce the number of organisms released in port to a standard set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2004.

"I'm feeling positive about this," says Allegra Cangelosi, principal investigator for the Northeast-Midwest Institute's Great Ships Initiative, which is working to reduce aquatic invasions in the Great Lakes. "These standards are a good guess at what is necessary to reduce risk of ship-mediated transfers to a manageable level." As of last month, IMO had approved eight kinds of treatment systems.

Under the proposed Coast Guard rule, new vessels launched after 2012 would need to have treatment systems that meet the IMO standard. Existing vessels will need to be retrofitted to meet that standard between 2014 and 2016, depending on the ship's size. The cost will likely run $1.18 billion over 10 years.

The Coast Guard is also considering a phase-two standard that would be up to 1000 times more stringent than the phase-one standard. By 2013, it will complete a review on the feasibility of achieving this standard—one live organism per 100 cubic meters of water. Another question is exactly how much benefit these standards will have, so the Coast Guard would like to see more research done by its staff and other agencies.

Comments are due within 90 days.

—Erik Stokstad

Read the story at link.


New York State DEC plans action to protect Catlin Creek and adjacent wetlands from Northern Snakehead

ALBANY, NY (09/01/2009)(readMedia)--

Continuing an aggressive approach toward invasive species, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will apply an aquatic pesticide to portions of Catlin Creek and adjacent wetlands to eradicate an invasive fish called the Northern Snakehead, Regional Director Willie Janeway announced today. The treatment, slated for October, will reclaim the Orange County waterway so that a healthy and natural fishery can be restored.

The action is a follow-up to successful steps taken to rid nearby Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek of more than 200 Northern Snakeheads in summer 2008. Acting on a tip from residents, DEC staff recently found two adult snakeheads at an impassable weir in Catlin Creek. DEC believes this follow-up application is the best course of action to assure this invasive species does not spread to other New York waters such as the Wallkill and Hudson Rivers.

DEC recently sent a letter to area landowners updating them on the issue and their intended action. In addition, DEC has scheduled a public meeting for 7 p.m., Sept. 16, at the Wawayanda Town Hall. "We appreciate the patience and cooperation of local residents and town officials as we continue to take steps to stop this aggressive invasive species," DEC Regional Director Willie Janeway said.

Native to Asia, the Northern Snakehead fish is an air breathing, aggressive freshwater predator. They can survive out of the water temporarily, travel short distances over wet land and have a wide temperature tolerance (For more info, go to: They breed prodigiously, have no natural predators in the U.S. and, therefore, have the potential to be extremely destructive. [...]

DEC anticipates treating the entire area in one day. Because no native species of fish were re-stocked in the upcoming treatment area, few if any are expected to be killed. Animals without gills will not be impacted. Rotenone is an extract from several different tropical plants and breaks down rapidly after application with no lasting toxicity.

DEC is committed to restocking the area with fish after it is treated. The Department also plans to stock Ridgebury Lake this coming fall. Additional fish will also be stocked in Ridgebury Lake through a commitment of $10,000 by the Department. A mixture of species including largemouth bass, black crappie and minnows will be stocked to restore these waters with a healthy assemblage of fish for the future.

Read the press release a link.


Over time, garlic mustard loses its toxic edge

garlic_mustardCHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Like most invasive plants introduced to the U.S. from Europe and other places, garlic mustard first found it easy to dominate the natives. A new study indicates that eventually, however, its primary weapon – a fungus-killing toxin injected into the soil – becomes less potent.

The study, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is one of the first to show that evolutionary forces can alter the very attributes that give an invasive plant its advantage. In fact, the study suggests the plant's defenses are undermined by its own success.

Garlic mustard comes from a family of smelly, sharp-tasting plants that includes cabbage, radish, horseradish and wasabi. Unlike most plants, which rely on soil fungi to supplement them with phosphorous, nitrogen and water, garlic mustard gets by without the extra help, said Richard Lankau, a postdoctoral researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) at the University of Illinois. Lankau led the study with INHS plant ecologist Greg Spyreas.

"For whatever reason, these plants just don't hook up with the soil fungus," Lankau said. Instead, garlic mustard produces glucosinolates, pungent compounds that leach into the soil and kill off many soil fungi, especially those native to North America. This weakens the native plants. As a result, garlic mustard now grows in dense patches in many North American woodlands, its preferred habitat. Those patches are often devoid of native plants.

Lankau began the new study with a seemingly obvious question: Once garlic mustard has vanquished most of its competitors, why would it invest as much in maintaining its toxic arsenal? He predicted – correctly, it turns out – that levels of glucosinolates in the plant would diminish over time.

"When you're in a situation where the only thing you're competing with is other garlic mustard, it may be that making lots of this chemical is not a very good idea," he said.

Thanks to a study of historic herbarium records conducted by co-author Victoria Nuzzo, of Natural Area Consultants, N.Y., the researchers had access to a 140-year record of the age of garlic mustard populations across the eastern half of the U.S. The team collected garlic mustard seeds from 44 locations, grew them in a greenhouse and tested glucosinolate levels in each. Those tests found that older populations – those that have been present in an area for more than 30 years – produced lower levels of the fungicidal compounds than those that got their start less than two decades ago, Lankau said.

Genetic studies suggested that these patterns were the result of natural selection. That is, the plants that produced less of the toxin were more likely to survive and reproduce in older populations.

The researchers then grew the garlic mustard in soil from native woodlands. After a time, they removed these plants and potted native trees in the same soil. The trees did best in pots that had held plants from older populations of garlic mustard, indicating, again, that the plants' toxin output had diminished over time, killing less of the fungus on which the native plants relied.

To determine if the decline in glucosinolate production was allowing native plants to return to areas previously dominated by garlic mustard in the wild, the researchers turned to a unique data set available in Illinois. The Critical Trends Assessment Program (CTAP) is a long-term initiative funded by the state Department of Natural Resources and administered by the INHS that monitors the status of plants, birds and insects across the state every five years. The CTAP began in 1997, and so data from the first two sampling periods were used (1997-2001 and 2002-2007)

Because CTAP includes data on plant abundance, including garlic mustard and native plants from across the state, the researchers were able to determine if native plants were declining or advancing in the presence of garlic mustard. Again, they found that older populations of garlic mustard – though still problematic – posed less of a threat to native plants than the newer ones did.

While this study focused on only one plant, the results indicate that some invasive plants evolve in ways that may make them more manageable over time, Spyreas said. This suggests that conservation efforts might be more effective if they focus on the most recently invaded areas, which – in the case of garlic mustard, at least – is probably where the most damage occurs.

This study was funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The research team also included Adam Davis, of the Agricultural Research Service at the USDA.

Read the story at link.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, U. of I. News Bureau. Caption: Adam Davis (left) of the US Department of Agriculture, Illinois Natural History Survey, postdoctoral researcher Richard Lankau (center) and INHS plant ecologist Greg Spyreas found that the invasive garlic mustard plant produces lower levels of a defensive toxin after about three decades in a new location.


Japanese stiltgrass blight?

Russ Richardson is a forester in central West Virginia (WV) who has been involved with fighting the spread of Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) for most of the past decade.

A couple of years ago Russ started to notice that in some places the stiltgrass was dying.

This year in some portions of WV there is a massive die off of stiltgrass with 100% of some populations dying. Russ thinks that it could be a virus of some sort.

Russ has taken many photos of the changes in the stiltgrass plants. When the plants die the thatch is different and the stiltgrass is decomposing much more rapidly than when they go their full life cycle. There are many areas where there will be no seed produced this year.

Samples of the grass were taken to WVU in Morgantown, WV last week to see what was killing the plants.

Thank you for your thoughts or comments.

Russ Richardson, Certified Forester
Crummies Creek Tree Farm
PO Box 207
Arnoldsburg, WV 25234



Job opening for invasive species biologist

This position is with the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) in Albany, NY. The NY Natural Heritage Program is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) that facilitates the conservation of rare animals, rare plants, and significant natural communities. The program accomplishes this mission by working collaboratively with partners inside and outside New York to support stewardship of New York’s rare plants, rare animals, and significant natural communities, and to reduce the threat of invasive species to native ecosystems. The program combines thorough field inventories, scientific analyses, expert interpretation, and comprehensive databases on New York’s flora and fauna to deliver high quality information for natural resource planning, land use decisions, and conservation of New York’s biodiversity. The New York Natural Heritage Program is based in the Central Office of the NYS DEC in downtown Albany, NY.


• Graduate degree in science-related field and 3 years related experience or equivalent combination of education and experience
• Experience with ArcGIS core software products
• Experience in natural resources, biology, ecology or related field
• Experience with invasive species issues
• Experience in developing and managing multiple projects

View the notice here.