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Old 12-01-2008, 01:23 PM   #1
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Default UH team warns of invasive pests burrowing in isles

UH team warns of invasive pests burrowing in isles

By Helen Altonn

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 01, 2008

Many Hawaii nurseries are infested with alien snails and slugs, potentially serious pests that harm agriculture and the environment, four University of Hawaii-Manoa scientists report.

In an article published in the October-December International Journal of Pest Management, biologists Robert H. Cowie, Kenneth A. Hayes, Chuong T. Tran and Wallace M. Meyer III express concern about widespread invasions of alien snails and slugs in the isle horticultural industry.

Most worrisome, the creatures might be hitchhiking aboard native Hawaiian plants that are part of the vegetation restoration program for Kahoolawe and other damaged Hawaii ecosystems.
What is encouraging is quoted below-

The snail and slug specialists are in the UH Center for Conservation Research and Training in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center. They documented the distribution of snail and slug species associated with Hawaii's horticultural industry for the first time, surveying 40 nurseries on the major islands.

They found alien snails and slugs in all of them.

The collection included 29 alien species -- five of which had never been reported in Hawaii, Cowie said in an interview. Many species also were found on particular islands where they had not been spotted before, he said.

The nurseries each had from one to 17 invasive species, even though some said they had none.

"We asked, 'Do you mind if we have a look?' and we always found something," Cowie said. "Our main concern was the fact that there's a whole bunch of snails and slug species much smaller than most people are aware of, and a lot of nurseries are infested with these things and didn't know they had them.

"Because they didn't know they had them, they're shipping them all over the place, to other islands and out of state."
Once a source is identified and documented; control, management, and eradication can begin so these nurseries aren't unwittingly shipping them to other islands or out of state.
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