Mar 02 2011

Alien Invaders: Drawing Awareness to the Problem of Invasive Species

Kudzu on trees in Atlanta, Georgia, via wikimedia

Most of the time, environmentalists work to protect species from things that threaten their existence.  However, in certain instances those threats can come from other species that have been imported into the area. The problem is big enough to warrant a whole week devoted to promoting awareness of invasive species. Invasive species can come in many shapes and sizes and types.  There are plants that are invasive such as the Kudzu vine, which is sometimes called “the vine that ate the South”.  Native to China and Japan, it grows over any stationary object, including other plants, choking them of sunlight and air.

Another invasive species that is causing a lot of concern recently is the Asian Carp. This large, prolific fish has already become the most prevalent fish in some areas of the Mississippi River and was recently found in the Illinois River, which connects to the Great Lakes. This has created a lot of concern in the region that the Asian Carp and its voracious appetite could devastate the already fragile Great Lakes ecosystem. To learn about other invasive species being fought across the country, see this list of the 100 most disruptive invasive species or check out some of the articles below.

NY Times: “America’s (and the World’s) Least Wanted”

There are way too many official years, weeks, and days focused just on the environment, let alone all the other issues needing attention these days.

But I’ll bring attention to one that kicked off today, because it relates to some persistent themes on this blog. This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, a week that has its own logo:

NPR: “The Art of War on Invasive Species”

Weed all about it. This is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, an event sponsored by the Dow Chemical Company, the Weed Science Society of America and the U.S. Department of the Interior, among others.

Sworn enemies of non-native plants and creatures will gather in Washington for “activities, briefings and events to highlight what is being done across the nation and around the world to stop and slow the spread of invasive species.” They will attend seminars with titles like “Waging War on Invasive Grasses.”

Time: “Asian Carp in the Great Lakes? This Means War!”

There are illegal immigrants on the loose in the Midwest. Originally hailing from Asia, they’re about 3 ft. (90 cm) long and weigh up to 100 lb. (45 kg), and are known to resist capture. Once they establish residency, they can eat you out of house and home.

They’re called Asian carp, and they emigrated to the lower reaches of the Mississippi River in the 1970s. Now they’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, threatening to destroy one of the most valuable aquatic regions in the U.S., unless the often fractious Great Lakes states manage to pull together and keep them out. The situation is so serious that the White House convened an “Asian carp summit” on Monday to work out a defense plan. “If the carp invade the Great Lakes, it will change them forever,” says Jennifer Nalbone, director of invasive species and navigation for the NGO Great Lakes United.

BBC: “Alien Plant Invaders Threaten UK National Parks”

Non-native garden plants pose a threat to the countryside including National Parks, a report reveals.

The study into invasive plants published by charity Plantlife highlights 92 species which are on the brink of becoming invasive in the UK.

These foreign plants are spreading through natural seed dispersal and fly-tipping of garden waste.

Many gardeners are unaware of the potential threat their decorative plants may pose, says the charity.

NY Times: “The Ultimate Invasive Species?”

A Dot Earth commenter, SAS from New York, posted a constructively provocative retort after my latest piece on  eating alien invasive species where possible:

Considering that humans are the ultimate invasive species, the whole concept of labeling any other species as “invasive” seems like a conceit of little value. If humans, in our natural comings and goings, have managed to aid another species to relocate to an additional hospitable environment so successfully that it becomes indigenous and endemic — it’s really more of an invitation than an invasion, isn’t it?

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