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Thread: Local invasive species?

  1. #1 Local invasive species? 
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    As one who lives in the U.S., I am aware that there are many non-native species here (I recently became aware of the disturbing fact that about 1/3 of the plant species in New York State are non-native). Of course, not all non-native species are actually invasive, though some are, and badly so.

    It seems that everywhere I look now I see purple loosestrife or Japanese knotweed. Our ash trees are seriously threatened by the emerald ash borer, our elm trees by Dutch elm disease (not Dutch in origin, suspected to be from Asia), our chestnut trees by chestnut blight.

    I'm aware of some cases of invasive species in countries other than the U.S. (cane toads, rabbits, and goats in Australia, for example) and I'm aware that the U.S. shares some threatening invasive species with other areas, but what examples are there of very serious invasive species in other parts of the world? For those of you in countries outside of the U.S., what are the biggest concerns that you're aware of related to invasive species?


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I'm in the USA, but on recent visit to England I learned that Japanese knotweed is a huge problem there. They are introducing a non-native insect to try to control it. Let's hope the bug doesn't turn out to be another problem. Here in Colorado it's tamarisk that is changing the riparian habitat for the worse.

    I also wonder how many of our species that we consider native were once invasive species that arrived on the wind, or bird plumage or in bird poop, or on floating rafts of vegetation. I guess if they were established before humans took notice, then they are considered native.


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    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    I'm in the USA, but on recent visit to England I learned that Japanese knotweed is a huge problem there. They are introducing a non-native insect to try to control it. Let's hope the bug doesn't turn out to be another problem. Here in Colorado it's tamarisk that is changing the riparian habitat for the worse.

    I also wonder how many of our species that we consider native were once invasive species that arrived on the wind, or bird plumage or in bird poop, or on floating rafts of vegetation. I guess if they were established before humans took notice, then they are considered native.
    We should also include the U.S. in this, since threats do differ from region to region.

    That's a good point... Should we restrict the label 'invasive' for those species specifically transported by humans into new areas where they then become a problem? It would be easy for some species with invasive potential to end up in new places by purely natural means, as you mentioned. The term in biogeography is 'sweepstakes dispersal.' Species can be transported to new, far-away places by pure chance.

    Two others from New York: zebra mussels in the Finger Lakes (probably the Great Lakes too), and garlic mustard, which I pulled up a bunch of today while doing some work at a nature preserve. I'm sure I didn't make a dent in the population, but I felt morally obligated to get rid of what I could!
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Here in New Zealand, the problems are worse than most places. That is because, as an island nation, our native species evolved with little resistance to mammalian predators. As a result, the introduction of rats, stoats, and Australian possums has devastated our native bird species. 16 have gone extinct since the coming of the European in about 200 years, and many others are seriously endangered. Heroic efforts to save birds like the giant ground parrot (the kakapo), our version of the dodo (the takahe), our black robin, and many more have led to survival - so far. A number of native birds exist only in offshore islands from which exotic predators have been removed.

    The sad thing is that many of our native rainforests are now silent, where once they rang out with bird song. To hear such song now, it is necessary to visit a protected site. Fortunately, such sites are growing in size and number with more investment in conservation.
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    Around here we have multiflora rose spreading everywhere, which makes things miserable. The bluebirds are getting pretty rare, because they get shoved out of their nests by wrens and sparrows. In the south, they've got kudzu.
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    A lot of invasions here in Minnesota, USA - the most significant so far probably the European earthworm. It's remade the landscape. Competition for the honor from the Chinese carp, the feral housecat, possibly one of the crayfish or mussels
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    Forum Freshman Xelloss's Avatar
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    I have some relatives down in Florida, where I hear that the Burmese Python usually wreak havoc.
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