Showing posts with label garlic mustard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garlic mustard. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Week of August 31, 2009

Updated September 6
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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.
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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 vermonttv.net, an online "station" with eight "channels."

Vermonttv.net 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 vermonttv.net, 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. "Vermonttv.net has been really helpful and cooperative. They’ve done a great job."

Read the full story at link.

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/45470.html). 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.

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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.

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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

ForestRuss[at]aol.com

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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.

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS

• 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.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Week of August 3, 2009

Updated 8/5/09
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Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference - August 11 & 12


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

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NJ fingers mitten crab, fellow invaders

CourierPostOnline.com

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

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

Mitten crabs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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Online field guide to aquatic plants

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

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Munching on Garlic Mustard

A New Weevil in the Works

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

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

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

A Model Solution

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

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

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

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

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

High Hopes for Little Insect

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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

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Maine needs boaters in battle against unwelcome invaders

GAIL RICE/Maine Outdoor Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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


By Jessica Fargen/BostonHerald.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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

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Emerald ash borer plagues tree life in PA

By Connie Mertz
For The Daily Item

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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Emerald Ash Borer: Recommendations for Homeowner and Woodland Owner Action

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

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

http://nyis.info/insects/EmeraldAshBorer.aspx

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Milfoil, an invasive threat to U.S. waterbodies

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

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

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

Read the full story and watch a video at link.

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Weigh In On Federal Strategies for Plant Pests

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

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

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

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

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Weed Population Monitoring and Prioritizing for Management

News from the Center for Invasive Plant Management

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

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

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

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

Read the summaries at link.

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Northeastern Weed Science Society Sponsors Training

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

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Report Compares Relocatable Commercial Vehicle Washing Systems


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

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Of bats and ash trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read The In Box blog at link.

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

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Spiny water flea threatens lake's food web

By Candace Page, BurlingtonFreePress.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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Invasive water plants make inroads on Long Island


By Jennifer Smith, Newsday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story at link.

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

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Week of May 25, 2009


Renewed concerns over invasive beetle in Vermont and New Hampshire

ALB
Summer brings renewed concerns about the Asian longhorned beetle. The invasive pest has an appetite for maple trees, and has devastated entire forests in Massachusetts. So far, Vermont and New Hampshire have escaped the invasion.

But the concern is that the bugs will be transported here in firewood carried by campers. As a precaution, New Hampshire next month will ban out-of-state firewood at federal and state-owned campgrounds.

From WCAX News. Link

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Madison High School students control invasives at Wildlife Refuge

MADISON, NJ -- It was almost lunchtime on the Madison High School Day of Service and Mark DeBiasse, History Department Chairperson and Service Learning Coordinator, said that his cell phone had not rung once yet to report a problem from any of the more than 40 work sites he was supervising.

Sawing, drilling, measuring, mulching, planting, drawing, painting, digging -- and that's just the beginning, the task list goes on. More than 400 Madison High School students plus faculty members came together to work on service projects that spread lots of cheer and goodwill throughout the school district, the borough and beyond on Wednesday, May 20, during the high school's fifth annual Day of Service.

They formed green teams to test Passaic River water quality and remove invasive plant species at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, while others organized a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

Read the full story at link.

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Saw Mill River Audubon plans “Trees for Tribs” planting

From Saw Mill River Audubon

Sunday, May 31, 9:00 a.m.

Volunteers Invited to Help Plant Native Trees and ShrubsThe last Sunday of May is planting day at Brinton Brook Sanctuary in Croton on Hudson. Everyone is invited to bring a spade, dig a hole, and “go native,” joining Saw Mill River Audubon (SMRA) and the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) in planting native trees and shrubs to improve streamside habitats in the sanctuary. The restoration is part of the DEC’s “Trees for Tribs” program along tributaries to the Hudson River.

The DEC is providing 100 native plants carefully chosen for this site. The 40 trees and 60 shrubs represent 13 species, including witchhazel, American cranberrybush viburnum, red maple, and sassafras.

Advance preparation by SMRA included scouting the location with the DEC, removing invasive plants from the area, planning the location for each new plant, and preparing labels with plant names.

For information about volunteering, contact:

Ellen Heidelberger
Saw Mill River Audubon
914-666-6503
office@sawmillriveraudubon.org
http://www.sawmillriveraudubon.org/

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Giant Hogweed confirmed in Butler County, PA

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning residents of Forward Township in Evans City, Butler County, that Giant Hogweed, a noxious and invasive weed that can cause blistering and scarring on the skin of susceptible people, has been confirmed in their area.

Located along the Pittsburgh/Buffalo railroad tracks at the intersection of Spithaler School and Ash Stop roads, and at the intersection of the tracks and Ash Stop Road, the area with Giant Hogweed has been identified and marked with Department of Agriculture signage.

Citizens with suspected sightings of the plant are asked to call the Giant Hogweed Hotline at 1-877-464-9333. Brochures to aide in identification are available at the Forward Township Municipality Building or online at http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/ under "Plant and Animal Health."

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PA Gov., PDA Turn Up The Heat on Ash Borer

http://www.lancasterfarming.com/

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell proclaimed May 17-23 as “Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania to help draw attention to the devastating, non-native invasive beetle that has been killing trees in six Pennsylvania counties during the past two years.

The governor urged the public to help contain the beetle’s spread to protect trees and also the jobs associated with Pennsylvania’s $25 billion forest products industry.

“The emerald ash borer has already killed tens of millions of ash trees nationwide and its arrival in Pennsylvania could have a damaging affect on our hardwoods industry,” Rendell said.

“Pennsylvania has been proactive in controlling its spread by enacting a firewood quarantine for counties found to have infestations and completing in-depth surveys to determine the extent of the infestations.

“By designating Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, we are reminding citizens of the potentially severe impacts this beetle could have on our environment and economy so they can take steps to help stop its spread.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) held a press conference at Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County on Tuesday to recognize Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. The conference took place in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Envirothon.

Firewood Transport Spreads Beetle

Firewood is the primary means of long distance movement for emerald ash borer and other invasive forest pests, so this camping season people are reminded to use only locally cut sources of firewood and to burn it completely on site. To help protect Pennsylvania’s forests and urban trees, “burn it where you buy it.”

People who suspect they have seen emerald ash borer should call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s toll-free pest hotline at (866) 253-7189. For more information about the quarantine, contact Walt Blosser at (717) 772-5205, and for more information about emerald ash borer, contact Sven-Erik Spichiger at (717) 772-5229.

Information is also available at www.agriculture.state.pa.us/emeraldashborer.

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Garlic mustard puts Quarry Hill at risk

By KEITH WHITCOMB JR., Bennington Banner

POWNAL, VT — Timing is everything with garlic mustard, an invasive species of plant that grows on roadsides and in forests. Spotting it before it flowers is difficult, and going after it too late spreads the seeds.

"It's an evil plant," said David McDevitt, the Southern Vermont land steward with The Nature Conservancy. "There is no easy way to get rid of it."

The most effective way, McDevitt said Thursday atop Quarry Hill, where the Conservancy owns a parcel of land, is to pull it out of the ground by hand. McDevitt and a small number of volunteers have been up Quarry Hill three times this year and pulled nearly 100 pounds of the plant.

Ruth Botzow, a volunteer steward for the local Conservancy lands, said she goes up often on her own time to remove the weed.

The Conservancy acres on Quarry Hill are home to a number of rare and unique plants, which the garlic mustard is crowding out.

McDevitt said garlic mustard is widespread across Vermont and other parts of New England. Some areas in Massachusetts, he said, are so infested that pulling the plants by hand isn't an option. He said two days ago in Manchester, he and other volunteers pulled nearly 400 pounds of garlic mustard out of a preserve.

McDevitt said the seed pods can lie dormant for a number of years, meaning areas have to be continuously worked from year to year before progress is made. "If it's a really infested place, you'll be picking that spot for years until you can say you've beaten it," he said, adding the site on Quarry Hill has seem some progress, although last year was an unusually bad year for garlic mustard.

Read the full story at link.

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Find of Invasive Zebra Mussels Could Spell Serious Damage

By Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post

The discovery of eight shells no bigger than a fingernail in Maryland waters has signaled the arrival of the exotic zebra mussels that have caused an estimated $5 billion in damage to the Great Lakes.

If they spread, the invasive fresh-water mussels could threaten the less-salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay northward from Annapolis.

The zebra mussels found in Maryland apparently were transported on a recreational fishing boat that was plopped from a car trailer into the fresh waters of the Susquehanna River above Conowingo Dam. Whether that handful can get past the Harford County dam and into the Chesapeake may be a multibillion-dollar question.

"If a bit of debris with a zebra mussel on it gets to the dam, it goes through," said Merrie Street, spokeswoman for Conowingo Dam. "There is no filter."

Read the full story at link.

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Adirondack lake stewards try to stop spread of invasive species

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press

ALBANY — When boaters show up this summer to Great Sacandaga Lake in the lower Adirondacks they are likely to be met at public launch sites by stewards asking to check for alien plants or animals.

The stewards, college students, will be looking for aquatic invasive species that have been found so far in about one-quarter of the lakes surveyed in New York’s northern mountains.

They will also ask to check boats leaving the lake, which last fall was the first inland waterway in New York where the spiny water flea was found. They want to keep that small crustacean, native to Eurasia, from spreading to other American lakes and rivers.

“When we move from one waterway to another, we’ve just got go be mindful of what’s hitchhiking,” said Hilary Smith, director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. “We need to include cleaning our boat and gear as part of the sport.”

Using hundreds of volunteers, the program has monitored 216 Adirondack lakes, finding 53 with one or more harmful nonnative plants like Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed or water chestnut.

“My sense is we’re going to find more uninvaded lakes than invaded,” Smith said.

Read the full story at link.

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Maryland sends in goats to save turtles

By Michael Dresser Baltimore Sun reporter

A herd of goats coming to the rescue of a handful of imperiled turtles may sound like the plot of a Saturday morning children's cartoon show, but that's just what's happening in the Carroll County town of Hampstead.

The State Highway Administration has enlisted the help of about 40 goats to devour invasive plant species in wetlands along the path of the soon-to-open, 4.4-mile Hampstead Bypass to protect the habitat of the bog turtle - a species listed as threatened in Maryland.

State highway officials decided to give the goats a tryout as four-legged lawn mowers rather than to attack the unwanted vegetation with mechanical mowers that might have killed the diminutive reptiles or damaged their boggy habitat on the fringe of Hampstead. The goats - leased from a local farmer who prefers to remain anonymous - have been on the job for a week, and highway officials say that so far they seem to be up to the task.

Until now, the bog turtles have been getting all of the attention. Highway and environmental officials have spent years hashing out the details of the $85 million bypass, and finding ways for the road and the reptiles to co-exist. The site where the goats are employed was once right in the highway's path, but officials rerouted it to the ridgeline above to avoid the sensitive wetlands.

William L. Branch, a biologist with the highway agency's Office of Environmental Design, said the decision to use goats to swallow up vegetation at the site - which officials prefer not to identify specifically because of the threat of turtle-poaching for the exotic pet trade - was the result of collective brainstorming by state and federal officials on how to build the road without damaging the local turtle population.

Branch said the Hampstead experiment is Maryland's first use of goats in connection with a state road project. He said officials had heard about previous projects using goats to control vegetation in bog turtle habitats in New Jersey and Pennsylvania - two of the other states in the reptile's range.

Read the full story at link.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Week of December 23

Merry Christmas!
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New office within New York State DEC to focus on invasive species

ALBANY, NY (12/26/2007)(readMedia) -- With invasive species proliferating throughout New York’s waterways, forests and farmlands, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today the formation of a new office within DEC to focus on one of the state’s fastest growing environmental threats.

The new Office of Invasive Species will bring together biologists and foresters to develop ways to combat the problem, and work with universities, other state agencies and non-profit organizations to support research and raise public awareness. From zebra mussels to Eurasian water milfoil to Sirex wood wasps, hundreds of non-native plants and animals have invaded New York – especially in the last decade, thought to be linked to the rise in global shipping – posing threats to ecosystems.

The new DEC office will involve biologists and foresters in developing ways to combat invaders, also working with universities, other state agencies and non-profits to support research and raise public awareness, the agency said. Headed by biologist Steve Sanford, it will have a staff of four.

Earlier this year, Governor Spitzer signed a law to create the New York State Invasive Species Council, comprised of representatives of nine state agencies and an advisory committee of business, academia and conservation interest groups. In addition, the 2007-08 State budget included $5 million for invasive species programs.

The new office also will aid efforts to craft an integrated map that pinpoints invasives in and near New York, create an information clearinghouse (within New York Sea Grant, a research organization) for invasives and work with the federal government. To find more information, go to DEC’s Invasive Species page on the Web: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/265.html.
News Release

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Connecticut group urging program to cull deer

JOHN BURGESON, The Connecticut Post

Odds are if a Connecticut resident falls prey to an animal, it won't be from an attack by a shark, bear, copperhead or mountain lion. It will be a deer. Deer, according to a group trying to control the animals' numbers, can be the cause of death to motorists in the region or they can be the source of chronic illness by spreading Lyme disease. According to the Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance, Bambi's image is nothing to fawn over. The alliance aims to blunt what it feels are the dangers posed by large numbers of deer in the region by encouraging hunting — by professional sharpshooters or sportsmen. The group's goal is to get the population of deer reduced to the point where Lyme disease will be eradicated and vehicle-vs.-deer accidents will be greatly reduced. According to the alliance, there are far too many deer for the suburban environment to support. The alliance is sponsoring a study in 15 Fairfield County communities to determine the density of the deer tick population and the percentage infested with Lyme disease. "People don't understand the threat posed by the excess numbers of deer," said Dr. Georgina Scholl, the alliance vice chairwoman and spokeswoman, who maintains that Lyme disease can be eradicated in the state if deer numbers are brought under control. Full Article

Bloggers note: While the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a native species in Connecticut (and surrounding states) and as such is generally not considered to be invasive, it has to some degree become destructive in its native region, with negative impacts similar to those of invasive species. The deer population has increased greatly due to human development, which leads to an abundance of habitat edges where deer thrive. Also, removal of predators has allowed numbers to soar. White-tailed deer have a tremendous impact on their habitat because of their huge numbers and the amount of food needed to support this population. Large numbers lead to overbrowsing which affects forest succession and other ecological conditions. Thus, white-tailed deer are occasionally considered to be pests in their native range.

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Flap Over Mute Swans in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (Boston Globe) — The Connecticut Audubon Society is asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove swans from critical marine habitats, claiming the graceful birds are invaders causing serious environmental harm. Defenders of the swans say any move against the birds is unacceptable. "If the DEP tries to target the mute swan, we'll give them a full-fledged war," said Kathryn Burton of East Lyme, founder of Save Our Swans USA. The group has sued other states that have tried to curb the swan's rapid population growth.

Connecticut Audubon plans to lobby state legislators to give state environmental officials authority to control the number of mute swans. In Connecticut, the swans are a protected species. "Mute swans may be beautiful, but the havoc they wreak is anything but," said Milan Bull, the Audubon Society's senior director of science and conservation. "They create a marine desert below the waterline and drive away native species."

Connecticut Audubon says the swan population totals more than 1,100, particularly along the shoreline, which is already affected by rising water temperatures and pollution. The mute swan is expanding inland where it has been spotted in Avon and Woodstock. New York and Rhode Island allow the shaking of eggs until they are no longer viable, but Connecticut forbids the destruction of eggs and the hunting of any swan. Full Article

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Pennsylvania Announces New Invasive Species Council Web Site

HARRISBURG, PA – People can learn how Pennsylvania is protecting against invasive plants, animals and insects by logging on to the new Invasive Species Council Web site, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said today. The Web site can be accessed by clicking on “Invasive Species Council” under the Agriculture site list at http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/.

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Study: Garlic Mustard Suppresses the Growth of Native Tree Seedlings by Disrupting Belowground Mutualisms

The impact of exotic species on native organisms is widely acknowledged, but poorly understood. Very few studies have empirically investigated how invading plants may alter delicate ecological interactions among resident species in the invaded range. We present novel evidence that antifungal phytochemistry of the invasive plant, Alliaria petiolata, a European invader of North American forests, suppresses native plant growth by disrupting mutualistic associations between native canopy tree seedlings and belowground arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Our results elucidate an indirect mechanism by which invasive plants can impact native flora, and may help explain how this plant successfully invades relatively undisturbed forest habitat. Link

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Donation will help combat weeds on Maryland trail

A stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, Maryland is about to get a little cleaner, thanks to a donation by a trail advocacy group. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, a group that fights for the trail and its users, recently donated more than $20,000 to help Montgomery County combat non-native invasive plants along the popular path. Full Article

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