Monday, January 18, 2010

Week of January 18, 2010

Updated 1/22. Latest news is at the bottom of this week's blog.

PA looking for more ways to pay for wildlife services

Saying hunters, anglers pay their share, state agencies seek new money to manage wildlife

Sunday, January 17, 2010
By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Some people look out the window and see a natural world that could take care of itself if we would just leave it alone.

But those more experienced in the outdoors and employees of the two agencies that manage the state's wildlife see something else: A man-made landscape of unnatural second growth teeming with thousands of species of plants and animals living in a constantly changing artificial environment.

In short, they see the need for constant and costly stewardship of Pennsylvania's wildlife resources. But it's become increasingly hard to pay for it.

Officials at the state's separate Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission said they're struggling to find alternative funding necessary to maintain services. With a deficit expected in 2011, Fish and Boat commissioners are considering raising fees for fishing licenses.

Unlike other state agencies, the wildlife management commissions get no money from Pennsylvania's general fund, relying since their founding about 100 years ago on revenue raised from hunters and anglers. With no contribution from the general public and a new emphasis on maintaining habitats for nongame species, agency officials said they're strained to the breaking point.

A 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey found that while participation in traditional hunting and fishing was waning, wildlife watching had become the fastest growing outdoors pastime, both nationally and in Pennsylvania.

But plans for expanding the state agencies' existing management of nongame species -- including goals detailed in the Game Commission's newly released five-year plan -- are not financially sustainable under the state's current funding process.

"Wildlife watchers are not funding what they're doing directly," said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. "And some of them don't even know it."

Doug Austin, executive director of the Fish and Boat Commission, said even many hunters and anglers don't know where their license fees are going.

"The general public is relatively naive about how the whole system works," he said.

"There's a large percentage of people who don't realize what the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission actually do," Mr. Bonner said, "or that they're funded almost entirely by license fees from hunters and fishermen and the use of state game lands. ... They're in a tough position."

Game Commission executive director Carl Roe is more succinct: "Eight percent of the population is paying for wildlife that is enjoyed by 100 percent of the population."

Read more: link


Invasive politics: Restricting bass boats won't solve plant problem

By Wayne Hooper
January 17, 2010 2:00 AM

Invasive plants are a concern for fisherman, camp owners and fish and game departments of all states.

Some camp owners blame the rise in the number of plants on the boaters, which is wrong. The fish and game departments haven't a clue what to do and the fishermen and boaters are fighting for their rights to zoom up and down the lakes.

Let's break this down. There is a legislative document in the Maine House that will be discussed in the next week or so that states, "No bass tournaments shall be held on any body of water that has invasive plants in it." One legislator has taken upon herself to try and stop bass boats from fishing the lakes as she thinks they are the problem.

My letter to her stated that this is discriminatory, as it blames one group of boaters as the culprits. In it, I said, "If you outlaw all boats at least you would stand a better chance of getting this passed, albeit a slim chance, as whomever votes for a bill such as this will most likely not get reelected in any northeast state. In fact, stoning, tar and feathers, a tea party and so many other reprisals come to mind. In other words, your political career would be hanging by the thinnest of fishing line."

I asked her if she had a camp on a lake that held bass tournaments or did she have a friend who did and she told me she had a cottage on Salmon-McGrath Lake, a bass tournament lake. I asked her why she blamed bass boaters and she really didn't have an answer. She stated that we need to fix this situation. I explained to her that these plants started 40 years ago in Florida, so anyone who fishes bass tournaments is educated, plus if you ask any of the volunteer inspectors at the ramps throughout the state they will tell you how clean bass fishermen keep their boats. They do not want to spread these plants, as it affects the fishing and bass fishermen are all about keeping fish alive, working on conservation projects and helping to pass laws to protect the black bass.

However, if you really think or have been told that bass boats carry plants from lake to lake, that is an absolute LIE. Can this happen? Sure, but every bass club has an invasive plant inspector whose job it is to check all the boats at every tournament. Also, bass boats are usually fished on Sundays and then sit in the yard until the next weekend. By that time the plants would dry out and die. However, if we did transport invasive plants, why aren't there any at the ramps? The ramp areas are clean of weeds and plants. [...]

Read more at link. Featured in Sea Coast Online


USFWS Range Technician (Invasive Species)

SALARY RANGE: 31,315.00 - 40,706.00 USD /year
OPEN PERIOD: Thursday, January 07, 2010 to Thursday, January 21, 2010
SERIES & GRADE: GS-0455-05
DUTY LOCATIONS: 1 vacancy - Stafford, KS
WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED: United States Citizens



UVM researcher rethinking the benefits of worms

By Cheryl Dorschner, Special to the Burlington Free Press • Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nevermind that more than three feet of snow cover many Vermont gardens right now.

Nevermind that this January and February are "gardeners' holidays." Oh, gardeners bundle up and travel the country to dazzling flower shows. They peruse bright catalogs and Web pages weighing the price of $7 packets with barely a dozen seeds inside vs. owning and growing the next new thing. And they dream.

But Vermont gardeners do not give a whit about worms right now.

They should -- because under all that snow and topsoil, the rules have changed.

Ask a gardener about earthworms, and they're extolled as the architects of the underground. Tunneling to aerate and drain soil and bring subsoil to the surface, they chomp through detritus, turn it into rich humus and leave behind castings valued for their high fertility. Earthworms were the darlings of Darwin and are the Vita-Mix of vermiculturists.

Now a University of Vermont research scientist is turning traditional thinking on its ear. Josef Gorres, a plant and soil science faculty member, teases out the truth about life in the universe that lies between sky and bedrock -- topsoil, leaf litter and earth's teeming surface. His findings demonstrate even more so than we already know -- that a sustainable ecosystem is one of delicate balance, of species indicators that signal the overall health of the soil and of the communities of small animals that may turn out to be linchpins of the food web.

New angle on worms

Gorres is seeing firsthand that where worms congregate in the forest, "There is no leaf litter, no organic layer and not as much pore space," he says. As a result, "the surface seed bank is exposed to seed predators and harsh weather. This is where small plants germinate, but because the duff is gone, they can't do that. Therefore, there are fewer herbaceous plants."

Besides grinding the woodland carpet and exposing seeds, earthworms leave a different soil -- fertile in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.

"Native plants may not adapt to the fast release of nutrients that earthworms cause," Gorres says. "And one hypothesis is that exotic invasive plants move in instead because they have fewer competitors, bare ground to colonize and maybe the edge over natives that are slower to become active earlier in the spring."

Worms' effects on wildflowers and shrubs are documented, but Gorres is interested in the long-term change of the forest canopy. "I'm also interested in how earthworms change the chemistry of soil in production maple forests because that could change the flavor of maple syrup and the color of the foliage," he says. "That part is speculative, but no one has looked at that."

Laying bare the forest floor is fairly new in the Northeast's natural history. Colonists brought Lumbricus terrestris to the Americas on rootstocks and in ship ballast; over time these all but replaced native earthworm populations and spread to wormless areas. Gorres estimates about 15-20 invasive earthworm species in the Northeast. Normally populations spread slowly; nowadays, worms are introduced by construction, with plants, when gardeners purchase red wigglers and by fishermen who dump bait.

While people are well aware of devastating invasive forest insects such as emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid heading toward Vermont, here's a surprise: "A relatively new worm called 'crazy snakeworm' was first discovered in the 1990s in nine commercial greenhouses in New York City. It is many times more voracious than other earthworms," Gorres says.

He's identified one as well -- in 2008 -- in a patch of ferns at the woodland edge of UVM's own Horticultural Research Farm in South Burlington.

"I'm aware of the two schools of thought, worms as beneficials or invasives, but it would appear to pit gardeners against those concerned with forest ecology," says Alice Beisiegel, who gardens and operates Leaves of Grass landscape design business from Williston. "I do know that my woods are full of earthworms and trilliums, uvularia and other plants that earthworms supposedly harm."

Indeed, all gardeners treasure both the cultivated and uncultivated land, so dearly that these findings -- wait for it -- open a can of worms.

Cheryl Dorschner writes stories for UVM's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where these research scientists work. E-mail

Read more at link.


The Vexing Bugs in the Global Trading System

As More Goods Are Imported From Overseas, Greater Numbers of Invasive Insects and Plants Also Arrive and Bite Business

By KRIS MAHER, The Wall Street Journal

FAYETTEVILLE, West Va.—Perched on a platform 50 feet above the ground in a big hemlock named Fern, Geoff Elliott points to an unwelcome Asian import: a little bug known as the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Small fuzzy white nymphs cling to the undersides of hemlock branches throughout the grove of trees. Both nymphs and adult adelgids can work quickly to destroy hemlocks 150 feet tall.

"This tree is believed to be somewhere between 200 and 300 years in age and can be taken out by the adelgid in as little as two to four years," says Mr. Elliott, a tour guide for Adventure West Virginia Resort LLC, which operates zip-line tours through the treetops. The company is trying to educate visitors about the dangers of the invasive insect as it diminishes the landscape the business relies on.

"Without any action we could lose the species," said Mark Whitmore, a forest entomologist at Cornell University. He described the hemlock as a "keystone species," because it provides shade that cools streams so fish can survive as well shelter for birds and animals. Losing it would be like "having all your front teeth fall out," he said.

As global trade has mounted, more goods are coming in from overseas, sometimes bringing with them the accidental cargo of destructive bugs and plants. An estimated 500 million plants are imported to the U.S. each year, and shipments through one plant inspection station doubled to 52,540 between 2004 and 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Today, about 30 new invasive insects are discovered annually in the U.S., up sharply over the last decade, the USDA says.

The yearly economic impact of invasive species in the U.S. is estimated at $133.6 billion, according to a study in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review in 2006. That includes the cost of control and prevention such as pesticides, inspection programs at ports and damage to crops.

An estimated 50,000 plant, animal and insect species have been introduced into the U.S. throughout history. Many plants are initially introduced as food or ornamentals, while animals are occasionally introduced to control other pests. The English sparrow was brought over to control the canker worm on crops in 1853. But by 1900, it was considered a pest because it introduced diseases.

Among the most damaging are weeds that affect crops or destroy animal habitats. The Asian purple loosestrife, for example, was introduced as an ornamental plant in the early 19th century and now invades some 284,000 acres per year in the U.S., crowding out native plant species that help support duck, geese and muskrat.

More recently, invasive species can be directly traced to increased trade. The Asian longhorned beetle hitched a ride on shipping pallets to Brooklyn, N.Y. from China, while others like the zebra mussel have arrived in the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ships from Europe, having spread there from Russia.

Once invasive species take hold in regions where they have no natural predators, it is often impossible to eradicate them. The emerald ash borer, a shiny green beetle from Asia believed to have arrived on packing material, is attacking ash trees. In the northeast, the Asian longhorned beetle has killed thousands of maple trees and other species. [...]

Read more at link.


Invasive Species Multiply in U.S. Waterways

By Matthew Berger
Inter Press Service News Agency

WASHINGTON, Jan 4, 2010 (IPS) - As 2010, the U.N.'s International Year of Biodiversity, gets underway, a fight against some of the most damaging invasive species in U.S. waterways is heating up.

The U.N. says some experts put the rate at which species are disappearing at 1,000 times the natural rate, and invasive species – which consume the food or habitat of native species, or the native species themselves – are one factor contributing to this acceleration. Climate change is another major factor.

"Often it will be the combination of climate change and [invasive] pests operating together that will wipe species out," says Tim Low of the Australia-based Invasive Species Council.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that 38 percent of the 44,838 species catalogued on its Red List are "threatened with extinction" – and at least 40 percent of all animal extinctions for which the cause is known are the result of invasive species.

But just as invasives are not the only threat to biodiversity, the threat to biodiversity is not the only problem caused by the havoc – ecological as well as economic – wreaked by species that are transported to a foreign habitat, get a foothold there and spread, often voraciously.

The U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity says the spread of invasives costs 1.4 trillion dollars a year globally in damages and control measures. The U.S. alone loses 138 billion dollars a year in the fight.

The problem can be seen throughout U.S. waterways, from Asian clams in California's Lake Tahoe to snakehead fish in the East Coast's Potomac River. One of the most immediate threats – Asian carp – is currently on the doorstep of the Great Lakes ecosystem, where it could decimate a seven-billion-dollar fishing industry among other economic and ecological assets.

After being imported to the southeastern U.S. in the 1970s for use in containing aquatic plants, bighead and silver carp, collectively referred to as Asian carp, eventually escaped from fish farms there and made their way north via the Mississippi River. They have taken over stretches of adjoining waterways such as the Illinois River and evidence was found in November that the fish are within seven miles of Lake Michigan.

The concerns over what a carp infestation might mean for the Great Lakes' industries and environment are several-fold. Asian carp are voracious eaters, consuming 40 times their body weight in a day, and females can carry a million eggs and spawn multiple times in a season.

Silver carp, which can top out at 1.2 metres and 45 kilogrammes, jump far out of the water at the sound of a boat motor. They are generally unappealing to U.S. consumers as food fish due to the floating bones in their flesh.

The battle over how to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem – which accounts for 20 percent of the world's freshwater – has now made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Michigan and other Great Lakes states are suing the state of Illinois to temporarily shut canals in the Chicago area that connect the Mississippi River system to Lake Michigan, thus blocking the fish's path until a tenable solution is agreed.

The lakes have been hit before. Zebra mussels, for instance, have colonised the region's waters beginning in the late 1980s. Zebra and quagga mussels, both of which were most likely transported to the U.S. in the ballast water of trans-oceanic ships, have since spread across the country, clogging pipelines and water intakes at significant economic cost. [...]

The Role of Climate Change

Local species may become even more vulnerable to certain invaders as the effects of climate change are increasingly felt and habitats are disrupted by phenomena such as warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.

"We know invasive species can capitalise on these disturbances," says Scott Loarie, a co-author of a study in the current issue of the journal Nature which points out how fast species will have to migrate to keep pace with a changing climate. As ecosystems are transformed, "weedy-type species might be able to adapt and expand better than the original species," he says. [...]

A changing climate is likely to hit aquatic species quickest. A recent study by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that lake surface temperatures in six Northern California and Nevada lakes are, on average, warming at twice the rate of the surrounding air.

One potential fallout of this trend is a more hospitable environment for invasive species, like the Asian clam that first appeared in California's Lake Tahoe at the beginning of this century but which is now prevalent enough that its waste has caused algae blooms in the lake's tourist-drawing crystal waters. [...]

Though climate change is only one factor in the spread of invasives, these intruders are generally given a leg up by the disruptions caused by a changing climate since they are typically very hardy species and adept at capitalising on opportunities to colonise areas. [...]

Read more at link.


Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan

The Draft Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan Request for Comments

We are soliciting comments on the draft Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan, by February 26, 2010.

The Lake Superior Binational Program recognizes that aquatic invasive species are one of the biggest threats to Lake Superior in terms of negative ecological and economic impacts. To address this critical threat, the Lake Superior Binational Program developed a draft Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan (Plan) for the lake. The Plan identifies the pathways aquatic invasive species use to enter and become established in the lake. Further, the Plan recommends prevention actions that need to be newly implemented, in addition to existing efforts, in order to close existing pathways on both sides of the border and prevent new aquatic invasive species from entering the Lake Superior ecosystem. The draft plan is available at: Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan (draft) [PDF 800 Kb 81 pages].

A series of conference calls will be scheduled for February 2010. On these calls, the plan will be presented via a webcast, and comments will be welcome. In addition, a series of workshops will be held in the spring and summer of 2010 to provide additional information and answer questions. Additional workshop details will be available in early 2010.

After the comment period closes on February 26, 2010, we will consider all comments, revise the Plan accordingly, and finalize.

You may submit any comments on the AIS Complete Prevention Plan by February 26, 2010 here.

Read more here.

If you have questions, you may contact:

Nancy Stadler-Salt ( or
Elizabeth LaPlante (


Asian Carp Will Soon Invade Store Shelves

by The Associated Press

Building off a state-developed marketing plan, a group of Louisiana-based companies has started a joint venture that will put Asian carp on retail shelves within weeks.

The fish are being marketed as silverfin, the name it was given in a marketing plan developed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The agency is promoting recreational and commercial applications of an invasive fish that has caused huge problems for boaters in northern states.

Rather than poisoning the fish to get rid of them like northern states have done, wildlife officials are opting to make them an appetizing meal.

Chef Philippe Parola of Baton Rouge, CEO of Chef Parola Enterprises and Partran, kick-started the campaign in the fall, and it's finally coming together in the New Year. [...]

Read more at link.


Mitten crabs on the menu?

crabMitten crabs are invading UK rivers and may be commercially harvested to control numbers reports the Independent (UK). This foreign species of crustacean is native to China where it is highly prized as a delicacy, especially the roe of the mitten crab. Diners in China, Japan and Singapore will pay the equivalent of £24 [about $39 USD] for a mitten crab in good condition.

In the UK, this aggressive species has spread up the Thames and is now populating other rivers and waterways where it causes damage to the banks and the natural ecosystem. “It is a huge pest problem,” says Paul Clark, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum. “It burrows into river banks and causes them to collapse, and is very damaging to native wildlife.” Mitten crabs in the Thames are now reaching such numbers that they may block water intake pipes of power stations and other industrial facilities.

Dr Clark has suggested that the solution to the problem may be simpler than first thought – eat them. He is proposing a conference in London in March to explore the possibility of commercially harvesting the crabs from the Thames. A recent study found that the crabs are fit for human consumption and are found in such numbers that exploitation would be viable.

“Mitten crabs have few natural enemies capable of reducing their numbers, but the establishment of a fishery would certainly carry risks.” Said Dr Clark.

Read more….

Courtesy of Back to the Planet.


Asian carp plea denied

Lyle Denniston | Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 10:10 am

The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to order emergency measures sought by the state of Michigan to stop the migration of an invasive fish species, Asian carp, toward Lake Michigan from rivers and a sanitary canal in Illinois. Without comment, the Court refused to issue a permanent injunction that would have closed waterway locks and required other temporary measures in reaction to the discovery of the carp upstream in Illinois rivers. The Court’s order did not dispose of Michigan’s plea to reopen a decades-old decree to address the carp migration issue on its merits. That will come later in cases 1, 2 and 3 Original, Wisconsin, Michigan and New York v. Illinois.



NJ Conservation Foundation Applauds New Forest Stewardship Law

By New Jersey Conservation Foundation

New Jersey Conservation Foundation applauds the state Legislature and former Gov. Jon Corzine for passing a landmark bill that provides incentives for private landowners to improve the health of New Jersey forests.

The Forest Stewardship Act was passed by the Senate and Assembly on Jan. 11 and signed into law by Gov. Corzine during his last full day in office, Monday, Jan. 18.

The new law allows landowners with at least five acres to be eligible for reduced property tax assessments by actively managing their woodlands to promote forest health and sustainability.

Previously, the same woodland owners participating in the farmland assessment program were subject to an income requirement, which forced landowners to cut their trees for timber and firewood. The practice was not sustainable and resulted in a major loss of forest productivity and biodiversity. [...]

Stewardship activities can include: removing invasive plants, restoring endangered species habitat, fencing property to encourage regeneration and prevent deer damage, and resolving problems caused by erosion, disease and pests.

The new law directs the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a forest stewardship program for owners of forested land who prepare stewardship plans for five acres of land or more. Under the bill, plans would be required to meet the rules and regulations of sustainability, list the owner’s long term stewardship goals for the forest land and the annual activities that will be implemented in the forest.

The law also directs the DEP to:

* Establish a cost share incentive program, "New Jersey Forest Stewardship Incentive Program," if funds are appropriated or otherwise made available for the support and funding of such a program, the DEP would award grants to local government units, non-profit organizations, and private owners of forest land to help subsidize their costs in implementing stewardship activities.
* Create a forest stewardship advisory council
* Prepare a report every seven years based on these forest sustainability criteria and indicators, with the first report required by February 1st of the third year following the date of enactment.

Special thanks are due to the bill sponsors: Senators Bob Smith, Jeff Van Drew, John Adler, Robert Gordon, Andrew Ciesla, Christopher "Kip" Bateman and Robert Singer and Assemblyman John McKeon. For more information on the Forest Stewardship Bill, contact New Jersey Conservation Foundation at or 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

New Jersey Conservation Foundation preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, the Foundation has protected more than 120,000 acres and has been an advocate for strong land use policies. For more information, visit

Read more at link.


Yellowstone Exotic Plant Management Team jobs now being advertised

Yellowstone National Park jobs are out on the street. The Craters of the Moon NP jobs have been out for awhile, as have the Glacier NP jobs. The Northern Rocky Mountains EPMT stations 3 people at each of 3 parks - Yellowstone, Glacier and Craters of the Moon in Idaho. Seasonal jobs are usually filled from late April
through mid to late September.

The job announcements are:
Yellowstone: YL306142 for GS 4-7 closes Jan 29 (may be extended, depending
on how many applicants we get)
Glacier: GL308321 closes Jan 22
Craters: PWRO-2010-01 closes Jan 25

Please pass this on to those who might be looking for a western adventure
this summer.


Sue Salmons
Liaison - Exotic Plant Management Team
Northern Rocky Mountains
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
307- 344- 2185


Carp DNA Is Found in Lake Michigan

New York Times
Published: January 19, 2010

CHICAGO — Genetic material from the Asian carp, a voracious invasive species long feared to be nearing the Great Lakes, has been identified for the first time at a harbor within Lake Michigan, near the Illinois-Indiana border, ecologists and federal officials said Tuesday.

A second DNA match was found in a river in Illinois within a half-mile of the lake, according to scientists at the University of Notre Dame who tested water samples and provided the results to officials last week.

Experts said the most recent findings, from Calumet Harbor and the Calumet River, could mean that the carp has found its way beyond an elaborate barrier system built at the cost of millions of dollars to prevent the fish’s access to the Great Lakes and its delicate ecosystem, where it has no natural competitors and would threaten the life of native fish populations.

“It’s a big admission of failure,” said Henry Henderson, the director of the Midwest program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It indicates the kind of thing we’ve been fearing since 1993.”

Government officials were careful to underscore that they had not found any fish — dead or alive — despite much effort, and that the Asian carp’s DNA could have arrived in Lake Michigan by various means other than the fish’s swimming from river basins it has already overtaken farther south.

Read more at link.


Salazar Moves to Ban Importation and Interstate Transfer of Burmese Python and Eight Other Giant Invasive Snakes

FWS to Propose Injurious Species Listing under Lacey Act

NEW YORK, NY – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose to list the Burmese python and eight other large constrictor snakes that threaten the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act.

Salazar made the announcement at the Port of New York, which serves as the largest point of entry in the nation for imports of wildlife and wildlife products. Last year, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inspectors at John F. Kennedy International Airport handled more than 27, 000 separate wildlife shipments valued at more than $1 billion, or 16 percent of all U.S. wildlife imports.

The proposal, which will be open to public comment before Salazar makes a final decision, would prohibit importation and interstate transportation of the animals.

“The Burmese python and these other alien snakes are destroying some of our nation’s most treasured – and most fragile – ecosystems,” Salazar said. “The Interior Department and states such as Florida are taking swift and common sense action to control and eliminate the populations of these snakes, but it is an uphill battle in ecosystems where they have no natural predators. If we are going to succeed, we must shut down the importation of the snakes and end the interstate commerce and transportation of them.”

In total, wildlife inspectors stationed at ports across the nation processed more than 169,700 shipments of wildlife and wildlife products last year with an estimated value of $2.7 billion.

“Our wildlife inspectors are the front line of defense for the nation, combating illegal wildlife trafficking and preventing the importation of countless species of illegal injurious wildlife. This proposal will give them an additional tool to restrict imports that are causing significant ecological and economic damage, while giving our law enforcement agents the ability to restrict the spread of these species within our borders,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton.

The nine species proposed for listing are: the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python, reticulated python, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, and boa constrictor. [...]

Read more at link.

Vanessa Kauffman (FWS) (703) 358-2138
Kendra Barkoff (DOI) (202) 713-0827


Coconut palms bring ecological change to tropics, Stanford researchers say

Those graceful coconut palms swaying in tropical breezes are lowering nutrient levels in the soils and the plants around them, thereby altering the eating habits of animals. Researchers say it’s one example of how a change in a plant community can disrupt an entire ecosystem.

Stanford Report, January 20, 2010

Coconut palms, the epitome of South Seas tranquility, turn out to be doing more than just soothing vacationers and inspiring aloha shirts. As they continue to spread to new areas, they are also changing the very landscapes they grace, according to Stanford researchers. Seabirds are shunning the palms as nesting sites, favoring other tree species instead, sending a ripple through island ecosystems.

With the birds has gone the rich cargo of guano that they normally dispense so freely to the earth under their abodes. The absence of that precious input has caused the soil around the palms to become nutritionally deficient.

That, in turn, is lowering the nutritional content of plant species growing around the palms and is causing the creatures that feed on those plants, such as crabs and grasshoppers, to forage elsewhere.

"We found that you can get a five- to twelvefold decline in important soil nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate when coconut palms are present, mainly because the birds aren't there depositing nutrients to that system," said Hillary Young, a doctoral candidate in biology and member of the research team that conducted a study on Palmyra Atoll in the South Pacific. Palmyra lies roughly midway between Hawaii and Tahiti. [...]

Just how long the palms have been growing on Palmyra, or how they arrived, isn't clear. Most researchers agree that coconut palms originated in Asia. Coconuts can travel long distances by floating on the ocean currents, but the palm was probably introduced in much of its current range, including areas like Hawaii and the Americas, by early human travelers a few thousand years ago. [...]

Read more at link.


Updates on ALB, EAB & Sirex Woodwasp

APHIS scientists have studied survival of emerald ash borer (EAB) larvae in firewood that has been heat treated. The conclusion: EAB larvae and prepupae survive HT at various temperatures and time intervals. A minimal safe treatment for firewood would require internal wood temperature of 60 degrees C for 60 minutes. The current requirement for firewood is internal temperature of 71 degrees C for 75 minutes. The article does not discuss the implications of this finding for imports of wood packaging, which (per ISPM#15) must be heated only to 56 degrees C for 30 minutes. (I have the full article if you wish to see it.)

USFS scientists are testing a trap for Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) that uses a lure comprised of chemicals emitted by male beetles and volatiles emitted by host plants. Initial tests were carried out in China; last summer the traps were tested at the large ALB infestation in Worcester, MA. The MA traps caught 9 females – compared to 29 adult ALB found by surveyors or residents. The catches in Dodge Park steered officials to 2 trees previously not known to be infested. Further surveys of trees near the traps are under way to assess the traps’ efficacy. Good news! Not that long ago, scientists thought Cerambycids did not communicate by chemicals – which made developing monitoring tools very difficult.

APHIS still has not developed a regulatory program to slow spread of the Sirex woodwasp from its current locations (NY, northern PA, corners of MI, OH, & VT; and Ontario) to the pine-rich woodlands of the Southeast and West. One reason is stakeholders’ failure – so far – to persuade Congress to provide adequate funding. If managers of pine forests and plantations are counting on the nematode which has been used as a biocontrol agent in plantations in the Southern Hemisphere (nematode Beddingia (=Deladenus) siricidicola). At a recent meeting, several scientists from the southern hemisphere described the complexities of trying to manage the nematode and get good rates of infestation of the woodwasp. Complexities include:

• Biocontrol program must be coordinated with active silvicultural management of the pine stands – failing to thin at proper time increases vulnerability.

• Mortality of trees used to introduce the nematode into the system - due to drought or attacks by other insects - undermines efforts to deploy biocontrol nematode and can reduce infection rate to ineffective levels.

• Difficulties of detecting leading edge of infestation – aerial surveys don’t pick up fast enough.

• Care needed in raising nematodes – must have proper strain of nematode, proper strain of fungus on which being raised.

• Care needed in techniques for inoculation of trees.

• Competition from bluestain fungi (quite common in North America) might suppress the Amylosterium fungus on which both the nematodes and the wasps feed.

• Might need to use different fungal strains depending on whether your pine stand is in a summer v. winter rainfall area.

• Strong/large woodwasps (that have not been infected by the nematode) still fly significant distance from “birth” tree – in Patagonia, the nematode has not slowed spread of the woodwasp.

• Contrary to previous understanding, North American native woodwasps and the introduced Sirex noctillio do not always utilize different species of Amylosterium fungi – so that cannot be relied upon to ensure that the introduced nematode does no harm to native woodwasp populations.

Sent by Faith Campbell


New report: Report on Aquatic Nuisance Control Activities in Vermont


No comments: