Monday, August 16, 2010

Week of August 16, 2010

Invasive Species Survey Discovers First European Marine Shrimp to Invade North America

From Judith Pederson, Ph.D.
MIT Sea Grant College Program

Cambridge, Mass. ~ The first European shrimp to invade North America has been found in Salem, Massachusetts, 17 miles north of Boston, according to scientists participating in a "rapid assessment" survey of invasive species along the New England coast.

The shrimp was discovered on July 31 while scientists were searching for another invader, an Asian shrimp recently discovered in Long Island Sound. The new European shrimp, known as Palaemon elegans, which is edible, can reach 2½ inches in length. The shrimp was found in Salem's Hawthorne Cove Marina. A team of scientists returned on August 9 to Salem and found a large population, collecting over 70 shrimp at Hawthorne and at near-by Palmer's Cove Yacht Club. The shrimp's identity was confirmed by Dr. Sammy De Grave of Oxford University's (Oxford, England) Museum of Natural History.

"This is a major discovery," said Dr. James T. Carlton, Director of the Williams College – Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program (Mystic CT), and a survey participant. "This is a well-known and well-studied shrimp in Europe, which will help us make predictions as to what the impact of this species may be in America," he said.

"The fact that ballast water has been released from Europe into New England harbors for over 100 years and that this is the first shrimp from the eastern Atlantic Ocean to invade suggests that environmental changes either in Europe or North America may have led to this introduction," stated Dr. Carlton.

The shrimp was most likely introduced by the release of ballast water from commercial overseas vessels from Europe, according to Dr. Judith Pederson, of the MIT Sea Grant Program (Cambridge MA), one of the survey leaders,

Known as the "Rock Pool Prawn" in England, Palaemon elegans is a carnivore, consuming large numbers of smaller crustaceans. "Recent studies in Sweden revealed that this shrimp can eat so many smaller animals that green algae growth is no longer controlled, and the increased mass of algae in turn may smother eelgrass beds" noted Dr. Carlton.

Studies are now being planned to examine what impacts the Rock Pool Prawn may have in America, including competition with native shrimp, and whether climate change in a now-warmer Gulf of Maine may play a role in its successful invasion.

"Eradication of this shrimp is not likely to be possible," said Dr. Pederson, "emphasizing all the more the need for continued vigilance in monitoring the vectors that bring in new invasions that could have major ecological or economic impacts to our coastal resources. It is exactly these types of much-needed surveys that permit us to detect new invaders and launch studies to understand what effects they may have."

Involving scientists from North and South America and Europe, this is the fourth survey since 2000 that has documented marine invasive species in New England. The week-long Rapid Assessment Survey focuses on the marine life found in harbors, ports, and marinas, in order to provide a baseline for biodiversity change and to detect new invasions. The Massachusetts portion of the 2010 survey was supported by the Massachusetts Bays Estuary Program, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, MIT Sea Grant, and The Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.


Fly Fishers Serving as Transports for Noxious Little Invaders

By Felicity Barringer
The New York Times

For fly fishers who pride themselves on a conservationist ethic, it hurts to discover that they may be trampling on that ethic every time they wade into a trout stream.

Blame their boots — or, more precisely, their felt soles. Growing scientific evidence suggests that felt, which helps anglers stay upright on slick rocks, is also a vehicle for noxious microorganisms that hitchhike to new places and disrupt freshwater ecosystems.

That is why Alaska and Vermont recently approved bans on felt-soled boots and Maryland plans to do so soon.

“If you were trying to design a material to transport microscopic material around,” said Jack Williams, an expert on invasive species with the environmental group Trout Unlimited, “felt on the bottom of someone’s boots in a stream would be as close to perfection as you could find.”

The response among fishermen threatened with the loss of soles that cling to slippery rocks parallels the five stages of grief.

There is denial (the science is wrong), anger (why should I fall on my tail for the good of the planet?), bargaining (I will wash them, I will disinfect them, I will dry them), depression (I cannot afford new boots) and, finally, acceptance (I will go feltless if I must). ...

Read the full story at link.


Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) urges hikers to brush off invasive species

From the Adirondack Almanack

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is urging hikers to give their boots a good brushing after each hike to remove any seeds of invasive plant species and help prevent their spread to other wild areas.

“Because of the rapid spread of invasive species such as garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and wild parsnip, hikers should include a whisk broom or brush as part of their hiking gear,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. “By giving your boots or shoes a good brushing before leaving the area, you can help prevent seeds from spreading to the next trail you hike.”

Hikers should also clean their clothing, backpacks and equipment before going to a new area to hike. Campers should shake out their tents before breaking camp to dislodge invasive seeds.

Invasive plants tend to push out native species and disrupt natural habitats, and some pose serious health threats for humans. The sap of giant hogweed, when combined with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. If you see it, don’t touch it. Information on identifying and controlling giant hogweed is available on the Department of Environmental Conservation website. If you find giant hogweed growing in the wild, call the DEC hotline, (845) 256-3111. Information about the health effects of exposure to giant hogweed is available online....

Read the full story at link.


Pennsylvania gets help to combat invasive pests

The Tribune-Democrat

Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts to control destructive forest pests and invasive vegetation in state forests and parks received an infusion of funds through the recent approval of more than $350,000 in federal grants, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Monday.

Five USDA Forest Service grants are earmarked for DCNR’s bureaus of forestry and state parks for tracking and control of the emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid and Asian longhorned beetle, as well as the suppression of invasive plants and restoration of native species.

“This invaluable financial support also is a real testament to the effectiveness of programs planned and already in place to protect the health of our state forests and state parklands,” said Daniel Devlin, Bureau of Forestry director. “All of these grants were competitive, meaning other states also were vying for funding.”

The largest federal grant, $125,000, will enable the bureau’s Forest Pest Management section to implement and demonstrate various management techniques for controlling the emerald ash borer, a non-native invasive forest pest killing all species of ash that has been detected in 16 Pennsylvania counties.

Lesser funding amounts are earmarked for the tracking and suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid, another non-native invasive forest pest proving deadly to Pennsylvania’s state tree, the Eastern hemlock.

Also, transfer of firewood – directly linked to the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer – will be monitored closely in state campgrounds as well as visual surveys under a newly funded plan.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, some sections of which are overrun with barberry, purple loosestrife, common reed (Phragmites) and other invasive vegetation, will be targeted with new suppression efforts, as well as plantings of native species.

For more information on forest insect pest management, invasive vegetation and native plant species, go to

Read the story at link.


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