["Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed." the discussion of whether or not humans are the ultimate invasive species is moot - at best an academic discussion - with little or no effect on the discourse on those invasive species that are having both ecological and economic impacts on those resources to which we have attributed value.]
How is this moot? I'm surprised no one else brought this up, but we should ask the Native Americans what they think about invasive species. The first group of Homo sapiens were doing just fine here, creating and actively managing the ecosystem until a different, paler, "special" group of Homo sapiens with guns, germs and ammo came along and started doing things their way, decimating the original group and ecology. Now other species like quagga mussel and yellow star thistle are threatening the lifestyles of the special group, so they're bad and need to be eradicated, with a vengeance.
Personally, I find the invasive species campaign to be disturbing and hypocritical, especially since its featured so prevalently on OPB.
I'm not saying we should all pick up and move back to California, or Ohio or Kentucky, we're here, now. But maybe this issue of invasive species can open our collective eyes to the effects of our existence and lead to a much needed questioning of what we really value, our economic system in general. Perhaps we should start thinking about giving land back to Native Americans or at least adopt their land ethic. We could start with the restoration of Celilo Falls.
Oregon Sea Grant Extension has been working on applied research and education related to invasive species for quite some time. This is especially true for aquatic invasive species, which constitute some of the most serious threats to Oregon's economy due to impacts on fisheries, energy production and water quality. I would like to encourage the producers of tomorrow's show to please contact OSU Sea Grant Extension for more information or suggestions of experts in this important area. You may contact me off-line for that information.
Sam Chan or Tania Siemens are good candidates, but I am sure you are aware of these folks already since Sam was featured on the Silent Invasions. Other good guests would be Mandy Tu from the Nature Conservancy, Vern Holm from the Northwest Weed Management Partnership,or Dan Hilburn from ODA.
I was quite troubled while watching "The Silent Invasion" last night. While I appreciate the concern of habitat specialists regarding the loss of weaker indigenous species to aggressive invaders from the outside, I am more troubled by the aggressive tactics - such as the pesticide-eradication of Spartina - which are given prominent coverage.
To paraphrase Einstein, we can't solve ecological problems by emulating the very methods which have created them in the first place. Rampant ecological destruction has left native species hanging by threads. Denuded landscapes are ripe for colonization by more hearty, agressive "weeds."
The Permaculturist optimist in me considers that weeds may actually be setting the stage for ecological reparation via successor species. The realist, and reader of Planet of Weeds by David Quammen, recognizes that, in fact, "Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed."
To hear dam operators at Lake Mead complain about a destructive mussel is like hearing a slave master complain that he can't stand to hear his chattel scream. Lake Mead represents one of the most destructive of humankind's tendencies ~ to subjugate entire ecosystems and watersheds to do our bidding. Perhaps this is a story too large to fit within the "Invasive Species" question, but sometimes we must ask ~ are we acting like an invasive species ourselves?
First let me express that I am extremely pleased to have OPB and Think Out Loud cover the issue of invasive species. I am a professional weed ecologist, and am intimately familiar with invasive species issues here in Oregon.
I am always troubled when otherwise reasonable folks express reservations about controlling invasive species. Whether it be due to herbicide concerns or some other guttural response, the simple fact is that invasive species are one of the most destructive forms of [i]pollution[/i]. Invasive species are analogous to an oil slick or a toxic waste spill, but with the added threat of being able to increase in size. Imagine an oil spill that not only spreads but actually converts water into more oil. This is reality of invasive species.
Plants and animals are killed by invasive species. People lose their land and livelihoods to invasive species, and the result is an Oregon that less "Oregon-like". When people think of invasive species, they might think of a dandelion, or some other garden weed. The reality is much more ominous. We are looking at weeds that disrupt entire ecosystems. Ivy and Kudzu destroy entire forests. Starthistle, Pepperweed, or Cheatgrass can convert prairie and grasslands into ecological deserts with no value to plants, animals, or humans. Inaction is simply not an option.
Now the problem with many of the ominous invaders is that there is no sure fire methodology for eradication. Ecologists use techniques like burning, digging, mowing, and pulling whenever possible. Unfortunately with some species these are not effective strategies. With these problematic species, often the only effective technique is herbicides.
Now I am sympathetic to the gentleman in Willipa Bay that is concerned about the toxicity of the herbicide. I would would be weary about spraying any chemical on my property, but the herbicide that is used on [i]Spartina[/i] has a very low toxicity. Specifically it has an LD50 (Lethal Dose of 50%) of 5000 mg/kg. For comparison table salt is more toxic at a LD50 of 3750 mg/kg. When you stop to consider that there is roughly 35,000 mg of salt per liter of saltwater, you will recognize that the saltwater itself is toxic. Now I am certain that that gentleman doesn't worry about the salt shaker at the dinner table or the incoming tides washing over his oyster beds. The sad truth is that people are fearful of what they don't understand.
Unfortunately the gentleman in Willipa Bay hasn't taken the time to educate himself. Now, I am not out to sell herbicides or boost profits for some company. My only concern is in preserving the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Pacific Northwest, and the actions taken at Willipa Bay are top notch and based on sound science. It is a real success story amongst a myriad of oversights and failures. It is just sad to see people trying to undermine the efforts of folks at Willipa Bay to stop the colonization of invasive [i]Spartina[/i].
As I see this program has started a lot of interesting chat.I am keith the oyster farmer that some say needs to be educated.With that I will tell you what I know about willapa bay and the spartina grass.Then you may educate me further.When I attend the state weed board meetings and their scientific adviserary board meetings people that are oystermen other than myself have stated over and over that spartina has never encroached on there oyster beds.This is to include Dick Sheldon when he addressed the state weed board.So that eliminates one reason to poison the bay.Another reason they use is for mosquito.Well they do not lay eggs in salt water and with the bay filling or draining every 6 hours that shoots that theory down. Then there is the shorebirds.Turns out that 2 master thesis were done on shorebirds and spartina and both concluded that the shore birds used the spartina a lot and that the feed they eat in the mudflats was plentifull to include all the organisms in the spartina itself and that the same amount if not more shorebirds were present but you could not see them in the grass feeding.That shoots all three reasons presented to our state govenrment to poison the bay.Now lets talk about the chemicals used.Imazapyr,glyphosate by the way these are spelled right not like our local paper is incapable of. I would urge you to search these out and look for yourself.Then I would ask your self this .With 10 gillnetters in the bay they only caught 6 salmon but do not worry as the editor of the Chinook Observer said it washes out into the ocean 2 times a day.Then we talk about the crabbers that are getting nothing.The mallard ducks that die.Why is imazapyr not used in the most least populated state per square mile.That is Alaska and they went to court to stop its use.It is highly mobile and always finds it way into fresh water.When sprayed with all the inert ingredients.It has since drifted onto our oysters and it is not supose to move.Another falsehood.Next we have the new science that states the mixture they use is toxic to all fish crabs and invertabrates.It also kills all spat which is the natural cath of oysters.
I have seen the death of the bay by walking out into it daily not from a couch.
I do not listen to printed unsubstantiated articles. I would point out that I raise my oysters in the grass as they do on the east coast and that 24 million dollars went to Charlies private war and none of that cost was through taxes from the oyster flats on willapa bay yet where the grass was now the big companies are laying gravel and making clam beds.Maybe if you look at pacific countie tax sifter and type in any oyster company you will see what taxes they pay.This is to include me. 20 milliona year and free expansion. Maybe with that you will understand the big lie.Ask about the development on the bay where they poisoned the grass.Now let us see if there is a good teacher out there with a good response .
If we could detect new invaders and control them before they become widespread, we could reduce our need to utilize controversial control methods such as herbicides or biocontrol. I would like to encourage your listeners to help with early detection by learning about what new invaders are threatening their areas and report them to the OPB reporting hotline. The Western Invasives Network website is an excellent place to start. www.westerninvasivesnetwork.org
I agree that it is important for people to be able to recognize new invaders, but in order to do that they have to know what is native and what is supposed to be here. We need better natural history education in general, not just education programs aimed at invasive species. If we don't do this people are not going to be able to identify invaders and will not likely care about native flora and fauna.
In addition, I think it is a mistake to target elementary school kids with invasive species messages. They need to be learning to know and appreciate all organisms in their environment. They are too young to burden with the unpleasant realities we face as adults. More sophisticated messages about native and nonnative can wait until they are in middle and senior high school.
"Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed." the discussion of whether or not humans are the ultimate invasive species is moot - at best an academic discussion - with little or no effect on the discourse on those invasive species that are having both ecological and economic impacts on those resources to which we have attributed value. I also find the above comment on Lake Mead to be disingenuous and distracting from any discussion of a solution however strongly one might feel about habitat alteration for socioeconomic benefit.
Learning to "live with" invasive species is certainly an option, and a seemingly easy one upfront, but embracing (or rather choosing not to respond to) invasive species can have negative ramifications far into the future with costs both ecological and economic that we may note even be able to accurately measure. Unlike conventional pollution (as mentioned above) invasive species can be considered a form of biological pollution which, instead of diminishing over time or dilution into the environment, has the ability to both replicate itself and actively spread to new environments. Some invasive species may seem relatively benign but multiple invaders may have additive effects that are worse than two single invasions (ex. bullfrogs and sunfish). Other invaders can linger benignly in an environment for years (even tens of years) before becoming a problem (ex. green crab on the east coast). If we decide to "live with" an invader now (for whatever reason - unwillingness/inability to use herbicides, acceptance of the invasions as a natural processes, etc.) we may just be setting up future generations for additional harm caused by these species. Harm for which there may not be a technological fix, by which time the population size of the invader has become impossible to eradicate.
As the above poster mentions detecting and controlling invasive species before they become established reduces our need for controversial control methods. However by far the most cost effective and least controversial action is preventing new invasive species introductions. Prevention is something that everyone can participate in and is as easy as not dumping aquarium species into the wild, washing fishing gear and boats before moving from location to location, purchasing ornamental plants from knowledgeable local suppliers not shady internet dealers, not importing live (illegal) fish bait, etc.
I think Oregon's scariest invasive species is Californians!
Thanks to OPB and all the other organizations out there doing their level best to educate and inform the public about invasive species.
As a biologist for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District in Beaverton, I have worked many hundreds of hours on 'managing' invasive species, both plant and animal. At times this seems an uphill battle, but I've seen positive, measurable results from all the work that has been done on this front. Most of this work has been done in partnership with various agencies and non-profit organizations, such as Clean Water Services and SOLV, respectively.
One project in our district has resulted in the removal of over 40 common snapping turtles from a pond in one of our parks that is less than 1/8 mile from Fanno Creek. Notably, these non-native, predatory turtles are healthy and reproducing in the pond, yet in the four years while the project has been going on, and for at least a decade prior, no native turtles have ever been seen in the pond. This, in light of the fact that pond turtles are living in the Fanno Creek system less than a mile away, is both surprising and dismaying. We can't say for certain that the snapping turtles are the primary reason we aren't seeing our native turtles in the pond, but the evidence is pretty damning. But we are having an effect and, once the snapping turtles have been removed completely, we hope to see basking pond turtles in the pond sometime in the near future.
At another site about a mile upstream we are using a variety of integrated pest management techniques to battle three especially problematic weeds: purple loosestrife, meadow knapweed, and yellow floatingheart. Yellow floatingheart is an aquatic weed that was discovered in an ephemeral pond about three years ago, and this was the first discovery of this species in the state of Oregon. Quick action with our partners at the Oregon Department of Agriculture has resulted in a reduction of approximately 90% of the population. The other weeds are under management methods including mechanical, chemical, and biological control coupled with cultural changes in how our organization manages the infested area. In each of these cases, it has taken a combination of pro-active, integrated management techniques, implemented quickly and aggressively, to get these weeds under control.
Garlic mustard is one of the latest invaders in the Portland area, yet many organizations have pitched in to attack and control the spread of this insidious invader that has the potential to change entire ecosystems. This is yet another example of what individuals, working together, can accomplish.
Yes, the battle against such invaders as English ivy and Himalayan blackberry are ongoing, and, yes, the battle at times seems uphill and never-ending, but the positive results I've seen from our efforts on these and other species is very encouraging. I strongly feel that if each of us does a consistent amount of work, even if it seems a small amount overall, we can get these weeds under control.
Apologies if this is covered in the program, but none of the discussion here seems to address the origin of invasive species. Where are they coming from? The trade in exotic pets is low hanging fruit, but how significant is it, really? How much comes from pathways related to international trade? Does anyone know? Probably not because of poor record keeping on the part of the Department of Agriculture and the federal inspection services at our borders. But I suspect that this is where our system fails us; has commerce clouded our perception?
Better inspections, better enforcement, and better detection and eradication efforts around ports of entry will almost certainly yield better results than very expensive and controversial after-the-fact eradication efforts. I don't mean to say that tackling problems like tamarisk and purple loosestrife is not a priority, but does it make sense to mop the floor while the sink is still overflowing? The first step is to turn off the tap.
Watch the show. Makes for more informed discussions.
THANKS for generating the post on origins. True, the detection of new invasives at the ports of entry is the key. To be most proactive, restrict and deter the movement of those invaders to begin with. This is not a new concept. On the agricultural side, regulations generated by the 1912 Plant Quarantine Act and other Acts since then have given authority to federal agencies to hold and reject imports due to significant pest risk. Inspections are conducted based on current regulations; current regulations reflect known pest risk; pest risk is assessed, in part, through review of national databases, including thousands of port interception records (40,000 pest interceptions for 2007 alone!). Diseases, insects, mollusks, nematodes, pest life stages, countries of origin, commodities associated with, ...all these trends are monitored. And every time a new plant commodity is proposed for import, a risk analysis is done before permits are issued. The Safeguarding net has many "threads" that keep it tight: regulations, trade negotiations, permits, port inspections, pathway analysis, targeted detection surveys, etc... It's a BIG SYSTEM. However, there are gaps in the net. Having the resources, funding to keep up with the volume of trade is an ongoing issue. But to respond further to one of your comments,...
Some members of the exotic pet trade industry have unfortunately bypassed the safeguarding net for a few quick buck$. Through smuggling-domestic production-sales of invaders, these new invaders make it into our backyards, ponds, and stream. I'm glad to see all this discussion on the Exotic Pet trade. The reason the pet trade is such "low-hanging fruit", is that outreach and education seem to be the best tools we have to prevent the problem in the first place.
Remember - we are an invasive species! A few invasives are destructive (like cheat grass, the false brome in Oregon, and humans are the worse), but the majority of introduced species are not. Simply targeting all foreigners is not wise. Even English ivy comes in many varieties- from what we know only one genetic strain (variety) is actually invasive. We should not prevent the sale of all varieties because of the invasive behavior of one.
Here at PSU we are conducting research on one of the most threatening invasive species in Oregon - the false brome. It has spread from its points of introduction in Eugene and Corvalis since the 1970's and is now invading the Portland area and and Washington. Metro and other organizations are engaging in control efforts, but it is difficult to eradicate. I would be happy to talk more about this and other invasive plants. (not available after 9:30 AM)
Associate Professor of Biology
Portland State University
Less accessible parts of the beautiful Marquam Nature Park in the SW hills above Terwilliger are turning into ivy deserts. If you hike into these areas you can quickly find many acres where nearly all the trees and shrubs have been killed by ivy. Is it possibly better in the long run to use herbicides to kill off all the ivy, once and for all, followed by a replanting of native plants?
My mother was British and French and she brought her cultural tastes with her when we moved to the States, so I grew up in a brick house covered in ivy and climbing roses. When I became a home owner I naturally planted lots of climbing roses and ivy. I've always been conscientious about making sure the ivy doesn't jump out of my yard, knowing how it can take over.
Someone recently pointed out to me that every time I cut back the ivy and put it in the yard debris garbage can I'm in effect spreading it around outside the confines of my yard. Is this true, and if so, what's a fellah to do?
The sad part is that just growing it on your property doesn't mean your not spreading it. Birds eat the berries of ivy and void the seeds in distant locations. This is how the species disperses. Even if you think that your keeping it your yard, your spreading seeds on the wings of birds.
I have been involved as a volunteer erradicating ivy from various parks around the Portland Metro area. Everytime I hear of a friend planting ivy in their yard, I cringe. It is hard work to keep ivy under control.
On the other hand, I have more affinity to blackberries. While I don't think I would purposely plant it, I love picking them in the fields around my home.
I live in NE Portand and we have a problem with invasive squirrels (Eastern Grey). A neighbor feeds them peanuts and they are overpopulated and are nesting in our front porch and attic. Other neighbors are having issues as well. We are spending hundreds of dollars to capture the squirrels and keep them out and when they are caught they are euthanized. It is important for people to know not to feel wildlife, even if they think they are "cute."
The West Willamette Restoration Partnership, a group of over fifteen neighborhood organizations, City of Portland, OHSU, PGE, NW Natural and Three Rivers Land Conservancy is actively working in the west hills of Portland to remove tree ivy from 300 acres and restore 50 acres. One part to this program is the Backyard Habitat Certification Program.
Many homeowners feel alone in their challenge to remove invasive plants. This program does on the ground support for these homeowners and provides benefits (i.e. native plants, etc.) for their work. Besides focusing on large natural areas, we also need to work with homeowners who have these noxious plants in their backyard. Otherwise, our work will continue.
FYI, we are actively working to expand this backyard certification program region wide. It works with local programs with invasive plants.
I work for Mount Angel Abbey. The Abbey owns a good deal of forest land that was overrun with Himalayan Blackberry, thistles, Scotch Broom, etc. A couple of years ago they brought in a herd of sheep and goats. Goats especially will eat anything that doesn't eat them first and all the way down to the roots. And they consider blackberry a real delicacy. So the goats dealt with the problem. The understory of our woods are now quite open, with saplings coming up in a lot of areas (protected by little cages to keep the animals from eating _them_) and ferns and grasses and such and all those nasty invasive species cut way back. I was just looking up the hill as I was driving in and noted that the former blackberry thickets are pretty much either gone or dead with only a few new shoots this spring, and the goats eyeing them hungrily.
Regarding giving police powers of inspection of boats in Oregon, one of the interviewees stated: "it seems draconian until you think of the consequences." But I just wanted to add that 1) these are POTENTIAL consequences 2) there are other consequences than bringing in invasive species - particularly in regards to rights to be free of unwarranted searches.
I don't know much about the issue and maybe somehow it wouldn't be a privacy issue, but I just see red flags when I hear people say things that liberties are worth sacrificing for consequences.
We so rarely have an opportunity to stop invasive species before they start. Clark County had the opportunity of stopping the recently released and now thriving population of tropical Monk Parakeets. They chose not to, even though their populations continue to increase. Why do we purposely allow some species to swell to uncontrollable levels?
I have watched the invasive species program on OPB and heave heard several of the discussions. In regard to Yellow Star thistle I have been somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned that the first line of defense against invasion is a well managed native perennial plant community that reflects a high ecological condition. I know that there are many people that do not like to hear this, and would disagree. This is largely due to the great variability of potential natural plant communities found in rangelands due to soils and topographic differences. Some sites when well managed will have a tendency to successfully resist invasion, while others may be more susceptable. Excellent range management may not exclude Yellow Star Thistles 100%, but on some sites it may be the difference of having total dominance of thistle as opposed to having a few hundred plants per acre, which a rancher can certainly tolerate. The number of seeds produced by thistle is less important than the environment they find themselves in for germination and establishment.
Washington State University Research and Extension Unit published a paper called, "SHOREBIRD, WATERFOWL AND BIRDS OF PREY USAGE IN WILLAPA BAY IN
RESPONSE TO SPARTINA CONTROL EFFORTS." You can read the document at http://www.friendsofwillaparefuge.org/spartinashorebirdmonitor.pdf
This paper describes peak winter and spring shorebird usage in sections of the bay has declined over 60% in the past decade as Spartina meadows have replaced the tidal mudflats.
Spartina is a perennial, deep-rooted saltmarsh grass, which re-sprouts each year from a dense, persistent root mass. It has colonized and eliminated much of the upper part of the wide expansive intertidal mudflats of Willapa. The long-term ecological impacts of this colonization include major declines in shorebird and waterfowl species, biodiversity, eelgrass beds (Zostera
marina L.), macroalgae beds, native saltmarsh habitat, and commercial shellfish beds (Daehler and Strong 1996; Dumbauld et al. 1997; Goss-Custard and Moser 1988; Gray et al. 1997; Kriwoken and Hedge 2000; Millard and Evans 1984; Jaques 2002). Species most threatened by Spartina are likely to be the 30 species of shorebirds that rely upon Willapa Bay?s 47,000 acres
of tideland for food and shelter during annual migrations to and from the Arctic (Paulson 1993; USFW 1997; Gray 1997). Much of the most-preferred shorebird habitat of Willapa Bay,sheltered upper tidal mudflats in the south part of the bay, has been displaced by Spartina. Peak winter and spring shorebird usage in sections of the bay has declined over 60% in the past
decade as Spartina meadows have replaced the tidal mudflats (Jaques 2002). Census studies on shorebird abundance in Willapa Bay in 1991-1995, prior to the major increases in Spartina growth, found that 44% of the total bird usage was within two areas, the Bear River/Lewis Unit ? South Willapa Bay region and the Willapa River area (Buchana and Evenson 1997). These two
areas have become almost contiguous Spartina meadows.
The deleterious effect of invasive [i]Spartina[/i] on shorebirds and other wildlife has so much evidence that it is no longer even under debate. I cannot see how Steve Herman can justify his position that [i]Spartina[/i] doesn't harm waterfowl. Just do a Google Scholar search for "[i]Spartina[/i]" and "shorebirds" and you will find 1,280 entries on the topic. Many of these articles are peer-reviewed and they paint a clear picture that invasive [i]Spartina[/i] harms shorebirds. Steve Herman's contention that [i]Spartina[/i] does not adversely effect shorebirds is indefensible and an outright fabrication. I realize that OPB sought out Steve Herman for the sake of debate, but the debate is over and the evidence is overwhelming.
One thing everyone seems to be missing is the propaganda that is being put out by The Nature Conservancy and it did sponser the program.As the oyster farmer on Willapa bay You should know that I mow my spartina and no seeds get out.We then compost it. The real Question hear is if I can do it mechanically why is the choice poison everything.A published paper means nothing.It is a measure to allow something to be used in court.Just like being indited by a grand jury.It basically takes nothing.How ever the papers stated above have been peer reviewed by a wide range of scientists across the nation and they have laughed at them stating that the methods used where that of a 6th grade science class.
In 1993 the large oyster companies not the small ones said they were willing to forget about the natural set spat because they have seed they can sell to everyone.Most of what I read here is propaganda with hidden agendas.The next time you eat a salad spray raid on it.Why not?How about eating an oyster out of willapa bay where they have been spraying sevin on ghost shrimp for years.An oyster is what it eats.Now thousands of dollars and gallons of glyphosate and a little imazapyr mixed in.All these people saying it is safe have now lost all credability.The center for desease control in Atlanta when sent a sample said do not worry all it does is alter the male sperm a little.I guess it is safe and anyone that is promoting this project needs to be removed from any sientific involvement because truth is what science is about.As we head to court we will make sure that we keep all informed.Again look up the chemicals.
Not to be used in or near water period.The only reason it is used in willapa is because of a special use permit that was allowwed by uninformed people and the large oyster companies.When these poisons wash out into the ocean we have a problem and Also the fact is that it dose not stay as they have said.All the tests the refer to and the text does not cover drift.So if I am doing what is required to keep my grass and oysters and protecting other properties then why when they poison thiers are they not required to protect me from there poison? Any scientist that rushes to poison as a resort other than last has a hidden agenda.Again 2 hours on the bay does not make you an expert.I live and breath it and see the damage and challenge any of you to come and look at our property and see it for your self.What scientist would poison the food chain?A good one or a bad one? You make the choice.I would also point out that if you go to the seattle times and view the story by Linda maypes called whale watching on the coast you will read about the real expert of the bay
I am always surprised by the degree of skepticism regarding scientific literature. The sole purpose of peer reviewed journals is to ensure the integrity of the science itself. The peer review process is designed specifically to eliminate bias and propaganda. Articles published in peer reviewed journals are reviewed anonymously by multiple scientists to ensure the validity and scientific integrity of the study. That said you still get people like the oyster farmer in Willapa Bay arguing against this sea of knowledge. As an ecologist I am receptive to contradictory evidence. If two scientific studies run contradictory it is imperative to question the validity of both. In the case of the ecological threat of Spartina or in the environmental threats of treatments, there is no sound scientific reasoning to question their validity. If you doubt these claims simply examine the arguments that the oyster farmer from Willapa Bay cites. Each of these accounts are based on speculation and anecdotal accounts rather than factual support. Just because your opinions differ from the overwhelming scientific evidence does not mean that all scientists and organizations that adopt that opinion have ulterior motives or are operating some propaganda machine. The truth is much simpler. The arguments and actions of the oyster farmer in Willapa Bay are not based on facts but are the personal misgivings of one man against a sea of evidence against him.
Xenophobia, definitely. Humans go all over the planet, perhaps we should restrict them also. This ability to move a species is natural. Humans are nature. It may not be smart nature, but it is certainly natural.
I don't understand the fight against "invasive species." Humans move, humans carry flora and fauna with them, purposefully or unknowingly. The only way to stop a mixture of species from moving around the world is to stop humans from moving around the world, and I don't think that's going to happen.
on biological controls: sounds like a great idea, but the controls can be as bad or worse than the problem. to import a biologic requires a minimum of 15 years of experiments to prove them to be harmless to native species. in the meantime, the original invasive has a huge and often insurmountable footprint. they are only one part of a control program.
A funny anecdote:
I was once coming back to the states from Ireland. I was waiting by the baggage claim for my luggage, when I heard a howl right behind me. I turned around and nearly jumped out of my skin. I have a very irrational fear of beagles (though I love dogs in general), and the USDA inspection dog was a beagle! He was howling at the orange I unknowingly had in my backpack. I caused a huge scene, asking the inspector to please get the dog away from me. Eventually she did, and then approached me to take me to the inspection station. I gladly relinquished the orange. :)
You can do your part to stop the spread of invasives - volunteer! SOLV has a number of projects you can help out with in your own neighborhood. Visit www.solv.org to find a project near you!
Thanks for this discussion. Humans have drastically changed the landscape and people invited most of the non-native species we regard as problematic for utility as well as beauty. For example, English ivy was an invited guest in Portland when tree removal, road and structure building and caused great disturbance and severe erosion.
Current practices encourage removal of non-natives. There is much money funneled into these projects from the chemical industry for herbicidal use in particular. Removal is only effective if coupled, at the same time, with replanting. Removal without restoration encourages a vicious circle of removal after removal - beneficial to perhaps the chemical industry but terribly destructive to wildlife habitat.
Money is much less available for replanting.
Even native species have grown dependent on blackberries and other fruit producing plants for food. Not to mention they need the dense cover they provide.
Another powerful response to invasive plants is to use natural gardening methods at home, school, work, and in public spaces. These methods include incorporating native plants and non-invasive exotic plants, fostering fertile soil with organic materials, using non-toxic pest management techniques and water conservation strategies.
For more information, you can visit www.metro-region.org/garden.
Metro Natural gardening and toxics reduction specialist
If you are worried about the problem of invasive species, take action! Join Oregonians, Washingtonians, and even Californian transplants to volunteer to get rid of invasive plants. On Saturday, May 17 SOLV has about 300 projects across Oregon and Clark County focused on the problem of invasive species. We have things happening on other dates too. Visit our online event calendar at www.solv.org: http://www.solv.org/volunteers/volunteer_calendar.asp or call 800-333-SOLV for more information.
I am afraid that the largely philosophic discussion of whether or not to control invasive species because [i] homo sapiens[/i] are the ultimate invader may be fun, but flies out of the window in the face of some hard facts:
1. Invasive species cost Americans [b]$138 billion [/b] a year (and that is a conservative estimate) as expensive control measures, direct economic losses, prevention efforts, and indirect losses.
2. Invasive species cause destruction of biodiversity second only to direct habitat loss. If we value wildlife, native plant communities and unique places, then we must view these introductions with alarm.
3. Some invasive species bring direct harm to humans through the above mentioned loss of economic lifeways, but also through increased use of chemical treatments to control them (often in close proximity to people), and even as diseases such as West Nile virus.
This is not a matter of xenophobia or similar perspective. This is a matter of halting a set of serious impacts to humans and natural communities before those impacts become even more serious. While we may argue the fine points ad infinitum, these organisms are moving in and altering the planet. This is one case were we have a chance to take a stand and repair or prevent some of the harm.
To learn more about these issues, please visit: http://www.opb.org/programs/invasives/
Yes. Evolution also alters the planet. Invasive species are also part of a natural process. The planet isn't fine china. Many people have actually thought about all this and then some and are still not sure that the justification of a wax museum makes sense. Sure it is sad for sentimentalists and elementary school kids when things go extinct, but isn't extinction part of the process? The dinosaurs went bye, bye without our help or harm!
I am partially kidding, but I am also being serious. Philosophically, yes, I am uncertain any of this makes sense, yet in a practical way I am doing an above average job of saving the planet---perhaps as a just-in-case.
I can agree that invasions of new species to new habitats yields new evolutionary pressures on the organisms in existing communities. It will create new complex communities eventually. Those processes will normally take long periods of time. Maybe longer than we have the patience (or time) to tolerate and adapt to. This thought has come from some pretty serious researchers (usually with the caveat that some form of equilibria might be established long after humans have left the scene).
But in the meantime, from a strictly short-term, human-based prospective, we have a host of problems resulting from the invasions of these organisms, whether it is by impacts on our own communities or on native ecosystems we have come to value for a variety of reasons. That said, stopping future invasions and decelerating the process of existing ones is the best we can do. And IF we as a society want to do something along those lines, we had better be serious about it. That's where I differ with the more philosophical arguments--they tend to distract the public from the pressing needs.
First I want to thank OPB for raising awareness about invasive species through the Silent Invasion documentary, the web site, this blog, and the Think Out Loud radio program. Raising awareness about invasive species helps encourage people to get involved in the conservation of biodiversity and habitat enhancement. If you would like to get involved in invasive plant removal efforts in the City of Portland, please see our web site with a list of upcoming events
And I can't help but comment on Steve Herman's commentary. I'm sure he is well educated about invasive species and I hope in the future he can help us lead the battle against the most problematic invaders. Sometimes we have to look at the positive changes we can make within a much larger system. For example, Steve commented about cattle grazing on public lands and I appreciated Mandy's response; we might not be able to end grazing on public lands, however, if there are things we can do to reduce the impact on natural systems, then I think that's a good start.
A lot of these blog comments reflect the belief that if we can't change the entire system, does that mean we shouldn't try to make a difference? Not for me. If I can help prevent the next invader, then I am going to do that and I encourage others to do the same.
To keep the energy flowing, the City of Portland will be hosting an invasive species summit sometime this summer. Feel free to contact me if you want to be kept in the loop about the date, time, and agenda for this event.
Again, thanks to OPB and to everyone who has worked on this outreach campaign.
First of all kudos to the hosts of Think Out Loud. I've been listening for awhile and I'm impressed with the pace of the program and especially Emily Harris' ability to moderate in a way that keeps things clear. On the April 24th broadcast she realized she mis-understood "tansy" as "pansy" and corrected herself in the next sentence. Also she realized that Steve Herman's position (of criticizing others as being xenophobic towards invasive species) was potentially being mis-represented (as in why not just let them be) and she forcefully gave him the opportunity to respond to a question in order to clarify his stance. This,as well as keeping him on-line for a lengthy period, I very much appreciated as I studied under Steve Herman and Al Weidemann (mentioned in relation to European Beach Grass)in the late 1970's. As a listener I was somewhat surprised to hear Steve Herman's initial contribution to the program use the term xenophobic to describe some people's reaction to invasive species. But not for a minute did I think he meant "just let them be". The study of Natural History includes all organisms and this naturally include humans and, with just a little stretch, the social contexts in which issues like this are addressed. I heard Steve Herman speak out for valuing wild nature and choosing our battles in a careful and well-reasoned (science supported) fashion while at the same time being aware of, for example, the hypocrisy of de-crying spartina here while planting Bromus tectorum there. Thank you Emily and Dave and all those who participated in it for facilitating an important discussion in our community.
I read sampdx's post comparing this plant to a growing oil slick, and that got me thinking: Is this something that could be harvested for biofuels? I know he was just using a metaphor, but if there were some way to recover the cost of getting rid of it, there would be a double incentive to do so. Why can't we couple it to some other process that's also growing out of control (like energy demand)?
In Tillamook County, there are high school students experimenting with digestion and production of biofuels from Scotch Broom, a rather nasty invasive species for the coast. This is a line of reasoning that some have considered. With improvements in cellulosic biofuel production, we may see that become more of a reality. Still, one would hope we can avoid or control the invasions we have without generating populations that are so big as to be economically viable for energy production. Good point to bring up, however.
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