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Environment: Invasive species concern rise in the Arctic

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Commercial shipping in the Arctic likely to boost invasive species threats.

Commercial shipping likely to bring unwanted visitors to region

Staff Report

FRISCO — The opening of transarctic shipping routes will increase the risk of invasive species spreading between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans, scientists warned this week, calling on stakeholders to develop preventive strategies early in the game.

As Arctic sea ice melts away in a warming world, the two oceans will be directly connected for the first time in about 2 million years. Cargo ships often carry invasive species, biologists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center wrote in a commentary published May 28 in Nature Climate Change. Continue reading

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Environment: Study says overpopulation of deer at root of invasive plant problem in Pennsylvania forests

Ecosystem breakdown more complex than just invasive species

Colorado mule deer.

Colorado mule deer. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Valiant weed warriors, who have made it their mission to try and eradicate non-native plants, may want to think about the bigger ecological picture as they plan their weekend weed pulls.

A new study led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Susan Kalisz suggests that, in some cases, invasive plants overwhelm native ecosystems because of an overpopulation of deer. The density of deer in the United States is about four to 10 times what it was prior to European settlement of North America. That density, Kalisz posits, is the main reason garlic mustard is crowding out native plants, such as trillium, which are preferred food for wild deer. Continue reading

More quagga mussels found in Lake Powell; Is the Lower Colorado River ecosystem at risk?

Quagga mussels coating a flip-flop in Lake Mead. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Quagga mussels coating a flip-flop in Lake Mead. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

National Park Service seeking input on mussel management plan

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The battle to keep Lake Powell free of non-native mussels is tilting toward the aquatic invaders and federal resource managers are concerned the invaders may spread into Glen Canyon.

As of January, the National Park Service reported finding — and removing — about 1,300 hundred adult quagga mussels, and managers at the reservoir said they’re finding more as the season progresses.

In response, the park service is developing a quagga-zebra mussel management plan to help the the agency decide what tools are appropriate to support the ongoing management of invasive mussels in Glen Canyon now that quagga mussels are present in Lake Powell. Continue reading

European bumblebees invading South America

‘One of the most spectacular examples of the invasion of an entire continent by a foreign species introduced by man …’

A bumblebee

A bumblebee

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The introduction of European bumblebees to South America as pollinators may backfire in the most spectacular way. Ecologists tracking the rapid spread of the non-native species say the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), is rapidly displacing native bees with as-yet unknown ecosystem consequences.

The European bumblebees were brought into central Chile in 1998 to help pollinate fruits and vegetables, as agricultural producers looked to replace dwindling honeybee colonies. Some of the buff-tailed bumblebees soon escaped from the greenhouses, established colonies in the wild and started spreading south all the way to Patagonia. Continue reading

Global trade contributing to the spread tree-killing bugs

Study says new approaches needed to control spread of pathogens

A close up of an Emerald Ash Borer insect and the feeding tunnels the insects create under ash bark. Insect Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State University. Tunnel Photo: NPS Photo

A close up of an Emerald Ash Borer insect and the feeding tunnels the insects create under ash bark. Insect Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State University. Tunnel Photo: NPS Photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The new infestation of tree-killing emerald ash borers in Boulder is just one symptom of a global trend recently identified by scientists from the universities of Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford and St Andrews.

The findings, published Nov. 15 in the journal Science, suggest that the number of pests and disease outbreaks in trees and forests across the world has been increasing.

There is growing concern that aspects of globalization — in particular, high volumes and new forms of trade — may increase the risk of disease spreading and provide opportunities for genetic re-assortment which can enhance the ability of an organism to cause disease. Continue reading

Global warming ups threat of invasive species in the Arctic

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Spitsbergen is the largest of the islands in the Svalbard Archipelago. It sits well inside the Arctic Circle, just south of 80 degrees north latitude. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for information on this image.

Warmer ocean temperatures, more ship traffic will open the door for new marine organisms

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Scientists are warning that warmer ocean temperatures in the far north will open the door for aquatic invaders that could devastate native marine ecosystems.

So far, cold water temperatures have prevented most harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but the threat of invasive species will grow as the oceans warm and as ship traffic increases in the Arctic, said an international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Tromsø in Norway.

All in all, the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in Norway and Greenland. Continue reading

Environment: Federal scientists say they’ve found a way to detect invasive mussels in their larval stage

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Zebra (left) and quagga mussels are spreading in lakes and reservoirs, with the potential for huge impacts to aquatic ecosystems, hydropower facilities and water delivery systems.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal scientists said they’ve developed ways to detect invasive quagga and zebra mussels while they’re still in the larval stage. That could help resource managers beef up protective measures before the mussels establish themselves in reservoirs and lakes.

“Early detection of mussel larvae does not mean that the water body will necessarily become infested,” said Curt Brown, director of research and development for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “Early detection provides a warning for managers that a water body is being exposed to mussels through some pathway, so they can consider additional means to prevent further introduction.” Continue reading

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