Soapbox Number 4

Introducing Nonnative Species

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This has been going on for a long time.  We are constantly introducing nonnative species for some reason, and a good number of these become "invasive".  An "invasive species" is defined as a species that is 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.  Want a current list, here it is:  Its quite impressive.  Some you know well, others you haven't heard of. 

Terrestrial Plants
Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum)
Downy brome (Bromus tectorum)
Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)
Mile-A-Minute Weed (Polygonum perfoliatum)
Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
Musk thistle (Carduus nutans)
Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens)
Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.)
Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium)
Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis)

Terrestrial Animals
Africanized honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata)
Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)
Asian tiger mosquito
(Aedes albopictus)
Brown tree snake
 (Boiga irregularis)
Cane toad (Bufo marinus)
Cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum)
Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)
European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar)
European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus)
Glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata)
Hemlock Woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae)
Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

Aquatic & Wetlands Plants
Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa)
Caulerpa, Mediterranean clone (Caulerpa taxifolia)
Common reed (Phragmites australis)
Eurasian water-milfoil
(Myriophyllum spicatum)
Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Giant-reed (Arundo donax)
Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Water chestnut (Trapa natans)
Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

Aquatic & Wetlands Animals
Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus)
Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)
Eurasian ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)
European green crab (Carcinus maenas)
Flathead catfish (Pylodictus olivaris)
Northern Snakehead (Channa argus)
Nutria (Myocastor coypus)
Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
Veined rapa whelk (Rapana venosa)
Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Exotic Newcastle Disease (Paramyxovirus)
Fowlpox (Avipoxvirus)
Plum Pox (Potyviruses: Potyviridae)
Soybean Rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi, Phakopsora meibomiae)
Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum)
West Nile virus (Flavivirus)
Whirling Disease (Myxobolus cerebralis)

How do these things get introduced?  Sometimes by accident (fire ants), sometimes on purpose (nutria).  Stop importing things people.  These things are bad.  History should show you that we can't control nature, and we should leave uncontrollable things where they are.  That's usually where they are stable and happy.

Sometimes our own stupidity makes me laugh.  One of my favorite places is Argentina.  I came across the following story a while ago.  

Apparently, in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina, they have a beaver problem on par with our nutria problem.  Apparently some former military government official, in 1946 decided to import 25 beavers from North America (Canada) to try and start a fur industry (hmmm...sounds familiar).

The fur trade never matured, and with no natural predators, the beavers are multiplying and destroying forests, rivers (building dams), and everything else
in their path.

What is funny about that is how ironic it is.  We have yet another parallel between North and South America.

In 1937, We imported some nutria from South America to try the same thing (fur industry), with similar results.  Now the nutria are out of control (they were "accidentally" set free into the wild after a hurricane, interestingly, after the fur industry hadn't appeared and wasn't going to.  hmmmm...), destroying everything in their path in the wetlands.

Its a typical story, this is not an America only problem, the rest of the world is apparently just as stupid.  What are you thinking people?


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This site was last updated 02/29/04