Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012

New York drops ballast standards shippers fought

The Associated Press

Traverse City — New York state officials have backed away from tough regulations for ridding ballast water of invasive species that the maritime industry says would bring international shipping in the Great Lakes to a halt.

The rules, which had been scheduled to take effect in August 2013, would order cargo vessels to cleanse ballast water to a level at least 100 times stricter than international standards before releasing it. The shipping industry contends no technology exists to meet the New York requirement, although environmentalists disagree.

Shippers say the policy would prohibit any cargo ship without the required technology from traveling through New York territory on the St. Lawrence River, the gateway to the Great Lakes — effectively shutting down commercial traffic between the lakes and the Atlantic. ...

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said this week it was postponing the effective date of its rules until December 2013. Because they are tied to a federal permit that expires then, the state rules essentially are being canceled. ...

Read the full story at link.


Invasive plant poses threat to the Great Marsh

By David Rattigan
The Boston Globe

Geoff Walker has watched the Phragmites australis grow for years, but a new study has proven what he already knew.

Typically, the invasive species that is also called the “common reed’’ starts on the marsh border and spreads, sometimes to the point where it crowds other plant species out. In recent years, that pattern had changed.

"About four of five years ago we looked out and saw tremendous amounts of emerging small stands of phragmites [spread around the marsh], which is atypical," said Walker, a Newbury selectman whose home abuts the Great Marsh [in Massachusetts]. "That is what that study brings to light, and that certain parts of our marsh are reaching a tipping point. Once that tipping point is reached, we could lose broad swaths of our productive, high marsh."

The study, released on Jan. 31, has confirmed anecdotal observations, and offered both bad and good news regarding the future of the Great Marsh.

The bad news is that the study found the rest of the northern portion of the marsh - in Newbury and Salisbury - was potentially vulnerable to the invasive plant species.

The good news is that it determined that efforts to contain the spread, including spraying, was an effective short-term solution. The suggestion from the report is that spraying and other techniques could be used to manage the species for the time being. ...

Read the full story at link.


Supreme Court Refuses Request To Stop Invasive Fish From Spreading

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't order closure of shipping locks on Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Michigan and other Great Lakes states, who have been trying for immediate shutdown of the locks and a quicker timetable for other steps to halt the carp's northward march from the Mississippi River toward Lake Michigan. ...

Read the full story at link.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Video on Cat's Claw Vine

From Karen Brown, University of Florida - IFAS - Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants...

There’s a new video ID segment on cat’s claw vine, Macfadyena unguis-cati, at link (approx. 3 minutes long). To see all video ID segments produced by the UF-IFAS Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants, visit


Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

Fighting Crimes Against Biodiversity: How to Catch a Killer Weed

ScienceDaily (Feb. 10, 2012) — Invasive species which have the potential to destroy biodiversity and influence global change could be tracked and controlled in the same way as wanted criminals, according to new research from Queen Mary, University of London.

Geographic profiling (GP) was originally developed as a statistical tool in criminology, where it uses the locations of linked crimes (for example murder, rape or arson) to identify the predicted location of the offender's residence. The technique is widely used by police forces and investigative agencies around the world.

Now, a team led by Dr Steven Le Comber from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has shown that this technique can also be used to identify the source of populations of invasive animals and plants such as Giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed. ...

Writing in the journal Ecography, the team describe how they used computer simulations to compare GP to existing ways of monitoring invasive species. ... In both the computer simulations and the real datasets, GP dramatically outperformed other techniques, particularly as the number of sources (or potential sources) increased. Dr Steven Le Comber who led the study, explains:

"We found that existing methods performed reasonably well finding a single source, but did much less well when there were multiple sources -- as is typically the case as invasive species spread The results show that geographic profiling could potentially be used to control the spread of invasive species by identifying sources in the early stages of invasions, when control efforts are most likely to be effective."

Read the full story at Science Daily.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London


Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012

UF-led study: Invasive amphibians, reptiles in Florida outnumber world

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida has the world’s worst invasive amphibian and reptile problem, and a new 20-year study led by a University of Florida researcher verifies the pet trade as the No. 1 cause of the species’ introductions.

From 1863 through 2010, 137 non-native amphibian and reptile species were introduced to Florida, with about 25 percent of those traced to one animal importer. The findings appear online today in Zootaxa.

“Most people in Florida don’t realize when they see an animal if it’s native or non-native and unfortunately, quite a few of them don’t belong here and can cause harm,” said lead author Kenneth Krysko, herpetology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “No other area in the world has a problem like we do, and today’s laws simply cannot be enforced to stop current trends.”

Florida law prohibits the release of non-native species without a state permit, but offenders cannot be prosecuted unless they are caught in the act. To date, no one in Florida has been prosecuted for the establishment of a non-indigenous animal. Researchers urge lawmakers to create enforceable policies before more species reproduce and become established. The study names 56 established species: 43 lizards, five snakes, four turtles, three frogs and a caiman, a close relative of the American alligator. ...

Read the full story at link.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Report proposes dividing Great Lakes, Mississippi River

By John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer
The Associated Press

Traverse City, Mich. — Groups representing states and cities in the Great Lakes region on Tuesday proposed spending up to $9.5 billion on a massive engineering project to separate the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed in the Chicago area, describing it as the only sure way to protect both aquatic systems from invasions by destructive species such as Asian carp.

The organizations issued a report suggesting three alternatives for severing an artificial link between the two drainage basins that was constructed more than a century ago. Scientists say it has already provided a pathway for exotic species and is the likeliest route through which menacing carp could reach the lakes, where they could destabilize food webs and threaten a valuable fishing industry.

Read the full story at link.


Vermont Law School alum proposes a federal law to curb spread of invasive animal species

John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT –– Following a federal study released Monday showing pythons’ devastating impact on the Everglades, a new study by a Vermont Law School alumnus proposes a detailed comprehensive federal law to curtail invasive and exotic animal species that are causing environmental, economic and public health risks across the American landscape.

“Forget the war on drugs. What the United States needs is a war on invasive animal species,” writes Jane Graham, author of the study, titled “Snakes on a Plain, or in a Wetland: Fighting Back Invasive Nonnative Animals—Proposing a Federal Comprehensive Invasive Nonnative Animal Species Statute.” The article is published in Volume 25, Issue 1 of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal. ...

The article proposes a model federal law that calls for:

A “clean” list of species that are allowed into the country instead of the current “dirty” list that prohibits specific species.

A process that explains exactly how risk assessment decisions will be determined.

Uniform restrictions on exotic—and potentially all—animal ownership.

Increased public awareness of invasive animal laws.

Higher and uniform fines and criminal penalties for violations.

Methods to fund restoration of ecosystems damaged by invasive species.

Entrepreneurship and partnerships between government and private businesses. ...

Read the full story at link.