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Old 02-20-2009, 12:07 AM   #1
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Default What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us

This is one of the better reads that helps lend clarity to invasive species issues.

What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us
—By Julia Whitty
http://www.motherjones.com/environme...trying-tell-us

excerpts from above
Quote:
Here's where it gets really strange. Released from the competitive and predatory pressures holding them in check, invaders sometimes become dark superhero versions of their former selves: bigger, faster, tougher, more populous, and behaviorally different than before. In parts of Guam, brown tree snake populations explode to 13,000 per square mile. Australian spotted jellyfish grow nearly twice as big in invaded Gulf of Mexico waters as at home. Argentine ants fight each other brutally in their native world yet become supremely cooperative when transplanted, joining forces to drive local ants into extinction and threatening important bee pollinators. House mice, hitchhikers on human invasions for the past 8,000 years, are masters of behavioral plasticity. On Gough Island in the South Atlantic, groups of up to 10 mice have learned to attack albatross chicks more than 300 times their own size. Because the chicks have never faced terrestrial predators, they offer no defenses, not even when the mice are eating through their body walls and consuming the food in their bellies. In perhaps the most notorious recent invasion, US wildlife managers are fighting a costly and losing battle against Asian snakeheads, since the fish can live up to four days out of water and can walk between ponds and rivers.
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Hixon mulls the problem constantly-while driving, while walking across campus, eating, socializing. He hopes Bahamian officials can institute a bounty and convince locals that lionfish taste like chicken and are easy to eat once you know how to avoid the spines and cook the fish sufficiently to denature the venom. But until and unless that happens, says Hixon, lionfish may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in human history.
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Many successful biological invasions capitalize on mayhem. Both melaleuca and lionfish are what biologists call drivers of ecosystem changes-causing, for instance, changes in biodiversity. But both are also passengers of ecosystem changes, piggybacking on changes already under way: melaleuca on disrupted landscapes, lionfish on overfished reefs. The potential for more powerful hurricanes as a result of global climate change threatens to amplify existing invasions and maybe even foster new ones-a process known as invasional meltdown. Fifty miles to the west of Hixon's lab, in the waters of the North Pacific, a synergy of ecological changes appears to be fueling the invasion of Humboldt squid-aggressive predators reaching nearly seven feet in length (not counting their tentacles) and 110 pounds in weight, and living in schools hundreds or thousands strong. They are known to ecologists as r-strategists: species that live fast, die young, and breed early and profusely. (Humboldt squid produce up to 32 million eggs per female.) R-strategists, like locusts and rats, thrive in unstable environments since their generational turnaround time is short enough for adaptation and evolution to work their miracles.
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Old 02-20-2009, 09:59 PM   #2
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I read this. I would highly recommend reading this if you haven't already.
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:37 PM   #3
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Default Species Invasion: Coming June 2010

Species Invasion: Coming June 2010
—By Julia Whitty

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marb...ming-june-2010
excerpt from above.
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We know that invsive species are now a threat to 20 percent of the endangered vertebrates of the world. Most are invading beyond their home worlds by hitchhiking on our rides: planes, trains, cars, ships, feet. Everything from bacteria to bats is doing it. I wrote in depth about the scary lionfish invasion of the Atlantic in the Jan-Feb MoJo. New Research forecasts that June 2010 is likely to be the worst invasion month ever.

Why? Because that's when temperature, humidity, and rainfall are likely to converge at many distant airports. In other words, when it's hot and humid in Miami it's also likely to be hot and humid in Shanghai. Species hitching a ride at one airport will more easily survive in the other. Add to that climate synergy the increasing traffic from India and China and we're likely to have an invasive species bloom in June 2010. Including whatever diseases the invaders are carrying... So what can we do? For a start:

  • Ramp up inspection activities at airports during the 6/10 time frame. And all other time frames.
  • Redirect at least some of the war on drugs to defending against biological invasions. Seriously, can't we put sniffer dogs and their handlers to better use?
  • Feed us in the air. Agricultural pests are invading on the foodstuffs individual travelers carry because the airlines no longer feed us. (Sometimes saving money is unbelievably costly.)
  • Consider your next flight… you know, along with the CO2 footprint... factor in the your potential as the vector of a new invasion. Is the trip worth it?
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:40 PM   #4
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Default Study Predicts When Invasive Species Can Travel More Readily On Airplanes

Study Predicts When Invasive Species Can Travel More Readily On Airplanes
—By Julia Whitty

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090225161040.htm
excerpt from above.
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ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 2009) — Global airlines be forewarned: June 2010 could be a busy month for invasive plants, insects and animals seeking free rides to distant lands.

A new study forecasts when climate factors such as temperature, humidity and rainfall will match at geographically distant airline departure and destination points, which could help to shuffle invasive species, and the diseases they may carry, across the globe along existing flight routes. The findings provide a framework that could help people who monitor airline flights — and the people, baggage and cargo aboard — to plan more efficiently and accurately for detecting and intercepting invasives.
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Old 03-01-2009, 05:13 PM   #5
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Redirect at least some of the war on drugs to defending against biological invasions. Seriously, can't we put sniffer dogs and their handlers to better use?
So true, so true. Is anyone else sick of the war on drugs? I know this is a radical statement but why don't we just legalize them like we did for tobacco and liquor. We could empty out some of our jails filled with potheads, tax the manufacturers distributors like we do alcohol and cigarette manufacturers and distributors, and collect a sales tax on the product which couldn't hurt about now. This would sure go a long way to generating revenue we could use to cleaning up our continent.
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