Chapter 9 – Invasive Species
Invasive Asian Carp in Lake Erie
Nicolette Cusate, Agricultural and Extension Education, Penn State Behrend
Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes that borders the north coast of Pennsylvania and is the main attraction in the city of Erie. Erie, Pennsylvania is home to approximately 97,000 people, and the lake attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to Presque Isle State Park for fishing, boating, and other water activities. However, a new invasive species is threatening the city’s tourism industry and their lake: Asian carp.
The city of Erie is threatened by this invasive species for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most prominent is because of tourism. Many people look forward to spending their summers on the lake, enjoying boating and fishing. It is important to note that Lake Erie is important because it is one of the most productive of the Great Lakes, contributing thousands to the fishing industry per year, through both commercial and hobby fishing. The introduction of Asian carp threatens the population of all other fish and the lake’s food web, as they feed on aquatic plants that are at the bottom of the food chain. As the population of Asian carp increases, the populations of smaller fish in the lake decrease because of food availability, driving hobbyists away and affecting Erie’s fishing industry and the city’s economy. Since a majority of Erie, Pennsylvania’s population is poor, lake tourism is a huge factor in the local economy. The projected impacts of Asian carp on Lake Erie are not good. Sources report that due to how fast Asian carp reproduce, they could take up 34% of the fish population in Lake Erie in the next 20 years. In addition, Asian carp in large enough numbers have the power to seriously alter and change food webs forever. This will reduce the overall biomass of the lake and, as mentioned, end up devastating Erie’s economy.
However, the city of Erie and its beloved lake are not doomed. Perhaps one of the best solutions to reduce the Asian carp population in the lake is to fish it. This could very well have inverse effects than predicted and actually attract more hobby fishermen. In addition, the DCNR is currently partnering with commercial fisheries to help decrease the population of Asian carp in the lake. Other strategies are also being applied to try to control the population, such as flood barriers. However, the Asian carp are not just in Lake Erie. Projections report that the invasive species is already in all of the Great Lakes except for one. This could potentially have serious impacts on other bigger cities, including Chicago, Toronto, and Detroit.
Asian carp may cause Lake Erie fish to decline. (2021). Regional Collaboration National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. www.regions.noaa.gov/great-lakes/index.php/highlights/asian-carp-may-cause-lake-erie-fish-to-decline/.
Feltman, R. (2016, January 5). Invasive Asian carp could overtake Lake Erie, study finds. The Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/01/05/invasive-asian-carp-could-overtake-lake-erie-study-finds/.
Thiele, R. (2019, July 9). Asian Carp Reproducing In Lake Erie Threaten Great Lakes Invasion. WBAA.org. https://www.wbaa.org/post/asian-carp-reproducing-lake-erie-threaten-great-lakes-invasion#stream/0
Corner Brook, Canada Invasive Species
Shayleen Daley, International Relations, Penn State University
Corner Brook lies next to a protected wetland marsh in Ontario, Canada. The area is an important habitat for waterfowl for migration, nesting, and raising of their young. The biodiversity of the marsh also includes fish and other wildlife such as moose, beavers, and otters who live there. A recent threat to the marsh has been the introduction of purple loosestrife to the area.
Purple loosestrife is an invasive plant species, originally from Europe, that has spread over much of North America. It forms dense root systems that prevent other species from developing properly due to reduced access to nutrients, and as it grows, it blocks out light. In the context of a marsh, it often chokes out cattails, which are vital to the cover and feeding of the protected waterfowl and other species. If left unchecked, the purple loosestrife will significantly reduce the biodiversity of the marsh, which will decrease the amount of animals who can survive off of what’s left.
Climate change has only worsened the potential impact of purple loosestrife. As frosts end earlier each year and warm temperatures stick around, purple loosestrife will often begin growing days to weeks earlier than native plant species. This makes it even easier for it to deplete nutrients and block out other species at their most vulnerable stages.
In the short term, and when possible, local volunteers patrol the marsh to keep an eye out for purple loosestrife or other invasive species. When found, they work to remove the species before it can fully take root. Long term measures are efforts to prevent the further spread of invasive species through careful control of imports and education of individuals who spend time in nature on how to avoid carrying the seeds unwittingly to new areas.
If an infestation were to settle in, biological controls such as bugs that might function as natural predators may be introduced. Though that can also increase the risk by simply introducing a different invasive species into the ecosystem. In some cases, careful monitoring of grazing animals reduces the impact of purple loosestrife in the region.
Cook’s Marsh. (n.d.). Conserving Canada’s Wetlands. https://www.ducks.ca/places/newfoundland-labrador/cooks-marsh/
King, M. (2018, October 14). Beetles munching down invasive purple loosestrife. Barrie Today.com. https://www.barrietoday.com/local-news/beetles-munching-down-invasive-purple-loosestrife-1083585
Purple loosestrife. (2012). Ontario. https://www.ontario.ca/page/purple-loosestrife
Reclaiming wetlands from purple loosestrife. (2018, February 23). Conserving Canada’s Wetlands. https://www.ducks.ca/stories/science/reclaiming-wetlands-purple-loosestrife/
Warne, A. (2016). Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) Best Management Practices in Ontario. Ontario Invasive Plant Council, Peterborough, ON. http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Purple-Loosestrife-BMP-April-2016-final.pdf
The Lionfish’s invasion of the Atlantic
Alexandra Diaz, Microbiology, Eberly College of Science Penn State University
Lionfish are a type of venomous fish, characterized by their colorful spikes. These fish were originally native to the Indo-pacific but, in the last few years have become a serious issue in the Atlantic Ocean (“Red Lionfish,” 2020). Their presence in Atlantic water threatens the survival of the reefs and could lead to an increase in stress on already struggling coral reefs.
In their native habitat in the Indian and Pacific oceans, lionfish have natural predators to keep their populations in control. This includes grouper, native sharks, and larger eels that also inhabit these waters (“Lionfish FAQ,” 2020). However, since their introduction to the Atlantic, no known predators of the lionfish have been identified in these waters. This has led to an unchecked explosion in their population. Without any known predators, lionfish have invaded Atlantic reefs and fed on the native prey. As a relatively aggressive and venomous species, there is little competition between them and the native species for the prey they both rely on (Albins & Hixon, 2008). This leads to the decrease in native predator species in the reef and therefore the disruption of the reef system.
With unconfirmed sightings dating all the way back to the 70’s, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when lionfish were introduced to the Atlantic. From this, it becomes even harder to determine what event led to their introduction. Researchers have several theories ranging from their escape from a Florida aquarium during a hurricane, to their release from private pet aquariums, to their stowaway transport in the ballast tanks of ships (“Lionfish FAQ,” 2020). Each of these theories holds merit in their own regard, making the topic a cause for debate amongst scientists.
To combat the growing populations of the invasive species, several tactics have been developed and put into place (Gupta, 2009). The first is the increase in exploratory dives to determine if lionfish are inhabiting a location. These dives occur in all different areas and at around 80 feet under the surface of the water. Once lionfish can be found and identified and in some cases trained, personnel are called to the location to trap and dispose of the invasive lionfish. However, many fishermen have developed their own way of dealing with the fish, especially when specialized divers are not close by. Lionfish can be consumed by humans and have been for centuries. Fishermen have begun trapping lionfish and selling them to be prepared and eaten. Becoming a delicacy may eventually lead to the control of the lionfish population.
Albins, M., & Hixon, M. (2008). Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans reduce recruitment of Atlantic coral-reef fisheries. University of Oregon. https://www.vetofish.com/sites/vetofish.com/files/actu/attachment/invasive_indo-pacific_lionfish_pterois_volitans_reduce_recruitment_of_atlantic_coral reef_fishes.pdf
Gupta, A. (2009). Invasion of the Lionfish. Smithsonian. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/invasion-of-the-lionfish-131647135/
Lionfish FAQ. (2020). Lionfish.co. https://lionfish.co/lionfish-faq/
Red Lionfish. (2020). National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/facts/red-lionfish
Invasive Species in Homestead, Florida
The threat to the community of Homestead, Florida is invasive species. This community is specifically vulnerable to invasive species, such as the Burmese Python, because of its location on the pet trade route. As a result of species being mistakenly introduced to the environment, the python spread rapidly due to the ecosystem not being prepared for its introduction. Furthermore, Burmese Pythons often do not thrive in cold environments and will likely die, so Florida’s climate provides an excellent environment for them to live longer and reproduce rapidly (Falk et al., 2016). In addition, the inaccessible terrain in much of the community of Homestead makes seeing the Burmese Pythons relatively difficult, which hinders efforts to remove them from the environment (Falk et al., 2016).
The forecasted impacts on the community are specifically detrimental for other animals that live in Homestead. For example, Burmese Pythons in the past have been known to feed on about 40 different types of vertebrates, which negatively influences the native ecosystem (Falk et al., 2016). Surprisingly, these snakes are also responsible for extreme decreases in the populations of many mammal species, such as rabbits and raccoons, with approximately 80 to 100 percent of the mammals experiencing declines (Wilson, 2017). Burmese Pythons have been known to have both direct and indirect effect on the ecosystem in the community of Homestead, Florida. One example of an indirect effect that they have is on turtle nests. In areas of Homestead with low concentrations of Burmese Pythons, turtle nests are at a much higher likelihood of being destroyed by predators (Wilson, 2017). This is because the snakes were not there to control the predator population, which is an interesting implication of this invasive species. Despite efforts at reestablishing certain species of native mammals in the environment, the amount of these mammals is still lower due to the fact that the Burmese Pythons killed a majority of the animals added.
The solutions to the threat are to develop better procedures and possibly tools to aid in the removal of Burmese Pythons from this ecosystem. The removal of these snakes would be extremely beneficial in slowly restoring the ecosystem to its previous state, as their presence has led to changes in the number of both predator and prey populations. Furthermore, additional research is needed to answer questions about trends in the Burmese Python population within Homestead that would improve the ability to reduce the population. Nevertheless, a major solution would be additional volunteers participating in the effort of locating and removing these snakes from the ecosystem. However, this has proven to be quite difficult due to the fact that the average rate of finding one Python is equivalent to 40 hours of searching (Falk et al., 2016). This is why additional volunteers in the effort to remove Burmese Pythons from Homestead is likely the best solution, as investigators need all the help they can get to locate this evasive and invasive species.
Falk, B. G., Snow, R. W., & Reed, R. N. (2016). Prospects and Limitations of Citizen Science in Invasive Species Management: A Case Study with Burmese Pythons in Everglades National Park. Southeastern Naturalist, 15(sp8), 89-102.
Willson, J. D. (2017). Indirect Effects of Invasive Burmese Pythons on Ecosystems in Southern Florida. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(4), 1251-1258.
Invasive Species in Hubbard, Texas
Amelia Emahizer, University Park
Hubbard, Texas, a town in northeastern Texas, is plagued by wild hogs brought by humans. These hogs are impacting the climate and environment in a way that is unprecedented. These hogs thrive in the environment of Texas, and their population has more than tripled in the last few decades. These hogs consume tons of food, and in the process destroy acres of land. These pigs find food by rooting. Rooting is the process of using their hooves and snouts to rummage in dirt, pulling up roots, fungi, and various small animals. According to the Texas government, this process can cause insane amounts of damage. The destruction of soil and native vegetation allows for other invasive species and damaging weeds to take over the area, causing even more problems. These hogs are causing massive issues to agriculture as well. The sheer amount of them, thought to now be over 6 million, causes damage through the previously mentioned rooting and even trampling (Kinsey, 2020). This causes many issues for farmers, with expensive damages along with a smaller crop yield. This does not help the food insecurity that many people face, as it takes away a substantial portion of food grown in the area. Along with these issues, they also cause problems to people via house damage and car accidents. Since they are fairly bulky creatures, they have caused a lot of injuries and expenses when they are struck by cars. To combat these issues, Hubbard, Texas is starting an interesting and unique initiative to get rid of the pigs. The Wild Boar Meat Company is now purchasing hogs that are shot, offering more for a clean shot through the head. They use the hog meat to sell to pet food companies. This effectively encourages people to help to clean up the hog population while also giving pet food companies an interesting story to go along with it. This prevents poisoning of the hogs, which can end up poisoning pets, livestock, and native wild animals. Although not a common or widespread solution to invasive species, it is an interesting one. This process just started within the last few years, so we have yet to see the full impact of it.
Kinsey, J. (2020). Nuisance Wildlife in Texas: Wild Pigs. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/nuisance/feral_hogs/.
Invasive Species in Kisumu, Kenya
Lake Victoria is known for being the largest lake in Africa, but it also borders the Kenyan port city of Kisumu. As a port city, it hosts many fishing boats that frequent Lake Victoria. However, the fast growing water hyacinth was introduced to Africa in the 1800s, and the lake has been struggling with the outbreak since. Water hyacinths grow extremely fast, and have devastating effects on the freshwater population it grows in. The hyacinths band together, preventing sunlight from entering through into the lake. While some species enjoy the side effects of the water hyacinths, other species, like the tilapia, are greatly affected by the lack of oxygen it causes. Lake Victoria is one of the best locations for the water hyacinth due to its location and its properties. The plant is originally from South America, so it thrives in the warm climate of west Africa, and the chemical phosphorus is abundant in the lake due to run off from fertilizers. Outbreaks of the hyacinth can cover miles of the lake in merely a few days, making fishing impossible, and even getting boats stuck.
With the effects of climate change bringing warmer weather (and drought), the plant may grow to be worse than before. Increased floods in the region can also cause more runoff into the lake, giving the plants more chemicals to cling onto and multiply. The influx of water hyacinths can clog pipes, stop water flow, and strip areas of the lake completely of life. While dealing with the effects of climate change in other areas, Kisumu will also need to direct time and money into dealing with the invasive plant. Currently, machines are being used to deal with the rapid spread, but it is unclear how long they will work or how effective they are. Recently, Kisumu received funding from Russia to help them get rid of large amounts of the plant currently in the lake. They plan to take the plants and turn them into products that the private sector would be interested in purchasing. While the plan is still in progress, a continuation of this is definitely positive for both Kisumu’s fishing industry and the biodiversity of Lake Victoria.
Atieno, M. (2020, August 10). How Kisumu Is Responding to Climate Change. Kisumu County. www.kisumu.go.ke/how-kisumu-is-responding-to-climate-change/#:~:text=Just%20like%20other%20parts%20of,investments%20and%20affecting%20fis hing%20activities.
Delaunay, N. (2019, February 8). On Lake Victoria, a Green Stain Spreads across Africa’s Blue Heart. Phys.org. phys.org/news/2019-02-lake-victoria-green-africa-blue.html.
Water Hyacinth in Kisumu. (2019, July 29). NationsU. nationsu.edu/water-hyacinth-in-kisumu/.
Water Hyacinth Re-Invades Lake Victoria. (2006). NASA. earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/7426/water-hyacinth-re-invades-lake-victoria#:~:text=The%20die%2Doff%20of%20native,disease%2Dcarrying%20insects%20like%2 0mosquitoes.
With an Injection of USD 7 Million, the Days of Water Hyacinth in Lake Victoria Basin Are Numbered in Kenya. (2019, October 28). United Nations. kenya.un.org/en/22625-injection-usd-7-million-days-water-hyacinth-lake-victoria-basin-are-numbered.
Invasive Vines in Takoma Park, Maryland
Crystal N. Graziano
The threat of invasive species increases as cooler climates have increases in temperature because of climate change. In the case of invasive vines in Takoma Park, Maryland, the warming climate, with higher Carbon Dioxide (CO2) concentrations, and sometimes nitrogen can create opportune growing habitats for the invasive vines that are threatening thousands of trees (CCAN, 2021).
The community is vulnerable because the vines are spreading so rapidly that thousands of trees could be smothered if the vines are not removed. In 2021, there were 4,850 trees that were infested so badly that in 5-7 years they could die. The previous year there were over 700 trees that had the vines removed by the community (CCAN, 2021). When communities lose their trees, it can be very expensive, in cost and time, to plant and nurture new trees to replace the ones lost due to invasive vine species.
Many invasive vines invade forests and limit the growth of natural plant species, kill trees and shrubs, as well as disturb natural habitats (Reaves, 2019). Trees are integral to cooling urban neighborhoods, beautifying properties, and sequestering carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (CCAN, 2021). Invasive vines will cover an entire area in a blanket so tightly that other plants are unable to grow. Once vines grow up the height of the top of the tree, it often will collapse from the weight of the vines (Reaves, 2019). Beyond smothering native trees and plants, invasive vines can eliminate food sources fo animals living in the area, disrupt fire regimes, as well as disturb nutrient cycling in the soil (The Nature Conservatory, 2019).
The community of Takoma Park, MD is taking steps to educate residents on the types of invasive vines, and teaching its local volunteers effective strategies in removing the invasive vines on a weekly basis (CCAN, 2021). Furthermore, residents are being educated on vine purchases and are advised to plant native vines instead of the exotic types that can overtake the native species.
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). (2021). New Study: Invasive Vines Could Kill Nearly 5,000 Trees in Takoma Park, MD Within 5-7 Years. https://chesapeakeclimate.org/invasive-species/
Reaves, B. (2019). The Sign of the Times is in the Vines. Maryland Invasive Species Council. http://mdinvasives.org/iotm/oct 2019/
The Nature Conservatory. (2019). Taking on Maryland’s Invasive Species. https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/maryland-dc/stories-in-maryland-dc/maryland-invasive-species-taking-on-the-invaders-of-maryland/#:~:text=Invasive%20species%20are%20one%20of,and%20inhibit%20native%20plant%20regeneration.
The effects of Wild Horses in Salt Lake City, Utah
Julia Hamilton, Recreation, Park, Tourism Management, Health and Human Development
There has been much debate over whether the wild mustangs of America’s West should be considered an invasive species. With recent research, it has been determined that the rapidly increasing population of mustangs is a serious environmental threat to the surrounding areas of Salt Lake City. The severe increase in the population of wild horses is destroying the native vegetation that is not only utilized by the mustangs, but other species as well. They are also draining water resources, and causing an abundance of invasive plants (Wild Horse…, 2021). Finding ways to manage this herd is also an economical threat, since it will cost the community in the form of higher taxes (O’Donoghue, 2019).
The strategy for managing this invasive species is incredibly difficult. Surrounding Salt Lake City, the herds of wild mustangs are a popular tourist attraction. In Salt Lake City, the mustangs also have historical significance that is important to the community. However, we must find a balance between respecting and managing these herds.
Salt Lake City and surrounding areas are perfect environments for the mustangs to thrive if there were not limited resources. The Onaqui herd is the group of horses associated with this area, and they generally feed on wild brush and grasses (Onaqui Mountain…, n.d.). Due to the increasing number of wild horses, we can predict that the local vegetation will continue to be depleted, and other species will become scarce. Unless properly managed, this community could be facing environmental ruin.
At this time, there is no concrete solution to how to properly manage the herds of wild horses. One of the ways people have suggested is birth control for wild horses, although there is much debate over the ethics of this practice. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the Onaqui herd, and frequently round up these horses to be removed from the environment and placed for adoption (Onaqui Mountain…, n.d.). While this practice helps to manage the herd, it is not enough to stop the growing population and it is costly. Continuing to develop strategies for herd management will help preserve the horse community and the environment.
Wild Horse and Burro Management. (2021). American Farm Bureau Federation. https://www.fb.org/issues/other/wild-horse-and-burro-management/
O’Donoghue, A. J. (2019, October 24). Crisis in the West: Americans will soon have a $5 billion wild horse problem and few know about it. Deseret News. https://www.deseret.com/utah/2019/10/23/20892118/crisis-in-the-west-americans-will-soon-have-a-5-billion-wild-horse-problem-and-few-know-about-it
Onaqui Mountain HMA. (n.d.). U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/herd-management-areas/utah/onaqui-mountain
Cane Toads in Queensland, Australia
The town of Sarina resides in the Mackay Region of Queensland, Australia. Its population is more than 5500 residents (Sarina, Queensland, 2021). In its town square is a monument to one of Australia’s most prominent ecological issues: the cane toad (Big Things of Australia, 2021). Cane toads are exactly what they sound like. They are a variant of toad. However, cane toads are not a native species to Australia. They were introduced in 1935 to North Queensland in an effort to curb the population of cane beetles, a pest to sugarcane farmers (Cane Toads [Bufo Marinus], n.d.). They have been used in the past as a pest control mechanism in the sugarcane industry, in places like Martinique, Barbados, and Puerto Rico (Big Things of Australia, 2021). Cane toads are a tough species, and will consume a wide variety of prey . They are also dangerous to consume, as they are poisonous (Cane Toad, n.d.). As a result, many predatory animals in areas where cane toads are now common have suffered declining populations as a result of cane toad consumption (Jolly, et al., 2015). Why is this a problem for Sarina? The long-term impact of cane toads has been a severe upheaval of local ecosystems and food chains. Cane toads kill local predatory species without accomplishing their purpose of protecting local sugarcane from pests like cane beetles (Big Things of Australia, 2021). Such a disruption of the food chain is obviously an issue, especially to the people of Sarina. Sarina is a largely agrarian community, reliant on sugarcane and cattle (Sarina, Queensland, 2021). With the cane toad destroying other local predatory populations, pest species like the cane beetle have fewer predators, leaving them freer to populate and destroy local sugarcane, and perhaps even allowing other pests to have an effect on the cattle industry, a scary prospect for the local populace. Cane toads have even been known to poison people, resulting in quite a few deaths (Cane Toad, n.d.). The solution to the cane toad threat lies in depopulating the rapidly proliferating toad before it is able to completely overtake the continent. The Australian government has undertaken a campaign against the toads, involving $1 billion pledged towards sustainable agriculture and the protection of native species . What’s more, the Australian government is educating its people on safe euthanasia of the toads (Cane Toads [Bufo Marinus], n.d.). Among the best ways to destroy them is to destroy their eggs (Cane Toad, n.d.). Hopefully, the people of Australia will prevail.
Big Things of Australia. (2021, March 4). The Big Cane Toad. bigthingsofaustralia.com/the-big-cane-toad/#:~:text=The%20Big%20Cane%20Toad%20sits%20in%20the%20town,by%20explaining%20the%20behaviour%20of%20these%20terrestrial%20creatures.
Cane Toad. (n.d.). Invasive Species Initiative. www.invasivespeciesinitiative.com/cane-toad.
Cane Toads (Bufo Marinus). (n.d.). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive-species/feral-animals-australia/cane-toads.
Jolly, C. J., et al. (2015, August 24). The Impact of Invasive Cane Toads on Native Wildlife in Southern Australia. Wiley Online Library. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.1657.
Sarina, Queensland. (2021). In Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarina,_Queensland.
Claire Jablonski, Mathematics, Eberly College of Science
Invasive species have been brought into a different country and caused problems in their new habitats. The issue with invasive species is that they may beat native species to resources which can alter habitat structures in an environment. Invasive species are a threat to Chicago and the Great Lakes areas.
Asian carp were introduced to the United States in the 1970s to cleanse retention ponds of plankton. Unfortunately, some fish were able to escape into the Mississippi River. The Asian carp have now been able to colonize and move into the Illinois River and are working their way into taking over the Great Lakes. Asian carp is a large fish that can reproduce quickly. Because they are not native to the United States, they have few predators. This is causing major problems in the Illinois River as the Asian carp are eating the same food as the native species. The community of Chicago is afraid that the Asian carp will take over the Great Lakes and ruin the fishing and tourism industries.
One possible solution to this problem is eating Asian carp. All over the city of Chicago, Morita and the Illinois Department of Defense have teamed up to hand out free Asian carp dishes to Chicago residents. This small action has helped spread awareness of the invasive species challenge in Chicago and create new fishing jobs. Although residents will not eat away the problem, they will become more aware of the situation and how it is affecting the city. Another possible solution is using electric barriers to prevent the Asian carp from moving into other water bodies. Funding needs to be put towards putting up barricades between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan to stop the Asian carp from taking over Lake Michigan. If nothing is done to protect the Chicago waterways, the fishing industry will be in big trouble.
Asian Carp & Invasive Species. (2016, September 26). Prairie Rivers Network. prairierivers.org/priorities/asian-carp-invasive-species/.
Asian Carp Burgers, Tacos Available across Illinois; Initiative Meant to Raise Awareness of Invasive Species. (2020, October 17). ABC7 Chicago. abc7chicago.com/great-lakes-asian-carp-challenge-invasive-species illinois/7104901/.
Greene, M. (2021, February 2). Project to Block Asian Carp from Entering Lake Michigan Moves Forward: ‘We’re Essentially Adding a Very Successful Linebacker to Our Defense’. Chicago Tribune. www.chicagotribune.com/news/environment/ct-brandon-road-asian-carp-20210202-gpksnlzlvbgfnmuty6qcciwa5m-story.html.
Invasive Species (Article) | Ecology. (2021). Khan Academy. www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-biology/ecology-ap/disruptions-to-ecosystems/a/invasive-species.
Wetli, P. (2020, October 22). Can We Eat Our Way Out of the Looming Asian Carp Eco-Disaster? It’s Worth a Try. WTTW News. news.wttw.com/2020/10/22/can-we-eat-our way-out-looming-asian-carp-eco-disaster-it-s-worth-try.
Climate Change and Invasive Species in Concord, Massachusetts
Shawn M. Jacobs
Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist who spent over two years living by Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Knowing that to better understand our life on Earth is directly related to the understanding of the natural world around us inspires many to this day. As I am inspired myself, I chose to center my fourth capstone around Concord, MA, and the invasive species surge there helped by climate change.
The Harvard Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology is collecting data and comparing it to Thoreau’s meticulous cataloging of plants around the Walden Pond area in the 1850’s. Thoreau’s data includes plant species and flowering times. With the mean temperature change increase of 2.4 degrees Celsius since Thoreau’s time, they have seen some plants’ flowering time shift by as much as three weeks.
The team, lead by Charles Davis, has determined that non-native and invasive species are the big winners when it comes to climate change as they have a more flexible flowering schedule. This domination of invasive species has driven out natives such as orchids, dogwoods, lilies, violets, and roses. The team also reports that over 60 percent of the species that Thoreau recorded in the mid 1850’s are either extinct or close to it.
A prime example is Purple Loosestrife. It has been noted that this plant, which was imported from Europe, now blooms 24 days earlier than it did in Thoreau’s time. This is alarming because Purple Loosestrife tends to choke out wetlands as it crowds out marsh grasses and cattails that provide essential food and shelter for native wildlife.
Invasive species are not only detrimental to our fragile environment, they also currently cost the United States over $30 Billion a year to control and attempt to eliminate. This cost will only continue to rise as the planet gets warmer and allows more invasive plants to take root. In my opinion, this is not sustainable.
Harvard University. (2010, February 3). Invasive plants are beneficiaries of climate change in Thoreau’s woods. Phys.org. https://phys.org/news/2010-02-invasive-beneficiaries-climate-thoreau-woods.html
Nijhuis, M. (2013, December). How Climate Change is Helping Invasive Species Take Over. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-climate-change-is-helping-invasive-species-take-over-180947630/
The Lionfish – an Invasive Species in Kingston, Jamaica
Jasmine J. Johnson
The Lionfish is indigenous to the Pacific and Indian oceans. In 1985, two lionfish species – the Pterois volitans and Pterois miles were spotted in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Although their origin in the Atlantic isn’t certain, it is likely that the Lionfish was released into the wild and multiplied in its warm waters. Fast forward to 2001, and the town of Kingston, Jamaica, is rampant with the said species.
Kingston is vulnerable due to the following: 1) the waters off its coasts are warm and full of reefs and mangroves, which are perfect hunting grounds for the Lionfish; 2) there are no known predators that will control the Lionfish population, leaving it unchecked; 3) Lionfish also multiply quicky with a female laying over 2 million eggs per year; 4) Lionfish feed off grouper and snapper, two economically important fish for the Jamaican fishing and food industry; and 5) Lionfish impact Kingston’s major diving tourist attraction.
To control the invasion of Lionfish, the Jamaican hotel industry appreciated the colorful and ornamental aspects that make the Lionfish attractive to snorkelers and divers, although many do not understand that it is a venomous fish. The hotel industry, specifically the Sandals Resort chain, created themed fishing trips. Similarly, the gastronomical industry has dedicated time to learn how to cook the fish properly. The sports and fishing industry have also taken part by promoting a fishing contest that rewards the angler that catches the most Lionfish.
According to the National Environment and Planning Agency in Jamaica (NEPA), all of these endeavors have significantly reduced the lionfish species off the coast of Kingston since 2014, with a 66% decrease in sightings, according to the National Environment and Planning Agency in Jamaica (NEPA). The NEPA reported a 75% to 95% decrease in shallow waters off Kingston’s coast; however, this still leaves the deeper waters unregulated.
Associated Press. (2014, April 21). Jamaica is still trying to get rid of the invasive lionfish that is eating everything in the sea. TheJournal.ie. https://www.thejournal.ie/jamaica-lionfish-1415651-Apr2014/
Reefs at Risk. (2021). World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/initiatives/reefs-risk#:~:text=Several%20characteristics%20of%20lionfish%20have,the%20Atlantic%20and%20Caribbean%20region
Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake
Mary Kelly, College of Engineering
In Yellowstone Lake, lake trout have been an invasive species for about thirty years. They are a predator of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which are an essential food source for other native animals, including 16 different species of birds and mammals (Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, 2020). The origin of this issue was in 1890 when lake trout were purposefully placed into Lewis and Shoshone Lakes by the U.S. Fish Commission. The first lake trout in Yellowstone Lake was recorded in 1994. Scientists were able to discover through lake trout ear bone samples that they originated from a Lake Lewis stock in the 1980s (Lake Trout…, 2020).
When comparing lake trout to cutthroat trout, lake trout can grow substantially larger. Lake trout require energy-rich prey to grow very large, but they can survive with little food for a long time. They tend to reside in deeper areas of the lake, and they are ravenous, efficient predators. Thirty percent of their prey consists of cutthroat trout. A single lake trout can consume a maximum of 41 cutthroat trout in one year, and one also can ingest cutthroat trout that are 55 percent of their own size. Besides cutthroat trout, the diet of a lake trout is composed of many foods that are important to the diet of a cutthroat trout (Lake Trout…, 2020). The number of cutthroat trout in the lake peaked at 70,000 in 1978 and decreased significantly to 538 in 2007. (Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, 2020) Evidently, lake trout are a huge threat to the native species of cutthroat trout and the overall ecosystem in Yellowstone Lake, and the cutthroat population cannot recover without a lake trout suppression effort.
In 1995, the National Park Service (NPS) confirmed that lake trout are a significant problem for Yellowstone Lake. NPS organized a panel of scientists who decided that removal efforts of gillnetting would be put into place to suppress the lake trout population. They recognized that these efforts would most likely be a long-term commitment. Gillnetting not only removes lake trout, it also provides plenty of data on the species. NPS found that the lake trout population continued to increase, so they had to expand their efforts with much bigger nets that were live-entrapment nets. Since 1994, over 3.4 million lake trout have been removed from the lake. From 2018 to 2019, numbers of lake trout caught in these big nets decreased, which indicates a declining population in Yellowstone Lake (Lake Trout…., 2020). Over $20 million has been spent in these suppression efforts (Lake Trout Suppression…, 2020). Continuing these efforts will slowly diminish the lake trout population while improving the population of cutthroat trout and the ecosystem of Yellowstone Lake.
Lake Trout Suppression Program Churns On Despite Pandemic. (2020, July 9). FISHBIO. https://fishbio.com/news/lake-trout-suppression-program-churns-despite-pandemic.
Lake Trout – Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service). (2020). National Park Service https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/lake-trout.htm.
Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. (US National Park Service). (2020). National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/yellowstone-cutthroat-trout.htm.
The Spotted Lantern Fly: Allentown, Pennsylvania
I have actually personally experienced an instance of invasive species affecting my own community. Allentown, my hometown, is a city located in the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania. The spotted lanternfly has been an invasive species in my community for years. This species is native to asian countries such as China, India, and Vietnam, and was first seen in the Lehigh Valley in 2014. The spotted lanternfly is a threat to my community economically and agriculturally. This species feeds on shrubs, trees, vines, and many other types of plants, damaging them permanently. It is known to feed on Maple, Birch, Oak, Pine, Sycamore, Walnut, and Willow trees. When spotted lanternflies feed on trees it stunts their growth and causes wounds in the tree that drip with sap, which in turn attracts other insects to attack the tree as well. These wounds can develop mold on the sap due to a substance excreted by the lanternfly which causes damage and causes the tree to turn black. My community is vulnerable to this invasive species agriculturally and economically. The species’ impact on agriculture in my area has caused millions of dollars worth of damage, and if it continues could cause a loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. These jobs would be lost by those in the agricultural industry, specifically in grapes, hops, and apples. The forecasted impacts of spotted lanternflies on the Lehigh Valley and Allentown are looking bleak. The state of Pennsylvania has already spent millions of dollars trying to stop this invasive species, and 2021 is expected to be a very good year for lanternflies, and very bad for residents of my community and Pennsylvania as a whole. Due to great weather for lanternflies, a large number of eggs were deposited in the fall of 2020, meaning they will hatch soon this spring in 2021 and terrorize the community. However, state officials have put out statements encouraging solutions for community members to help stop the spread of lanternflies. One solution is to scrape the eggs off of trees in yards before the lanternflies can hatch and crush them in a ziplock bag to eliminate the spread. Another solution is obvious, always kill a spotted lanternfly when you see it.
Malik, J. (2021). Dealing with SPOTTED LANTERNFLY in Allentown, Bethlehem, AND Easton, PA. Joshua Tree. https://www.joshuatreeexperts.com/blog/dealing-with-spotted-lanternfly-in-allentown-bethlehem-and-easton-pa
Merlin, M. (2020, April 23). Spotted Lanternfly season Has begun; 2020 could SEE ‘SIGNIFICANT POPULATIONS’. The Morning Call. https://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-nws-lanternfly-season-2020-20200423-brq7z55kxnhobd36hx6ni2b27y-story.html
Spotted Lanternfly ALERT. (2021). Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/PlantIndustry/Entomology/spotted_lanternfly/SpottedLanternflyAlert/Pages/default.aspx
Brown Tree Snakes in Barrigada
The village of Barrigada in Guam faces the ongoing issue of brown tree snakes invading the island. They were accidentally introduced around seven decades ago, most likely through cargo ships, and their population has ballooned enough to exceed the island’s environmental carrying capacity. The snake lacks a natural predator and is an invasive species. Barrigada’s main concern with the snake is that it preys on the birds of the island, having already caused ten of Guam’s native bird species to go extinct, while the remaining two have been cited to be basically extinct (Wandrag & Rogers, 2017). Brown tree snakes also reproduce rapidly, outnumbering the bird population and quickly diminishing it. The effects of the brown tree snake on the island is tremendous. Because of the lack of birds to spread seeds throughout the island, the rate of tree seed dissemination was lowered up to 92% alongside the diversity of these trees (Wandrag & Rogers, 2017). Several of the different tree species on the island depend on native birds to spread seeds farther away from the parent tree and with the bird population quickly facing extinction, trees on Guam can face overcrowding and a competition for resources, leading to a prevention of growth. Insect populations are also affected by brown tree snakes as they prey on the species that keep these populations stable and lower the risk of spreading diseases. The village has faced issues with rising insect populations as infection rates from insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever and infant salmonellosis grow since the population of brown tree snakes increased. The invasive species also affects agriculture on the island with the reduction of native birds and pest-controlling lizards. Agriculture is one of Guam’s main industries with 264 farms making up 2% of Guam’s land in 2018 (Guam Agriculture, 2020). The loss of agriculture on the island would lead to serious economic consequences stacked on top of Guam’s already struggling economy.
Guam has introduced multiple initiatives to reduce the population of brown tree snakes. Funds have been allocated to Guam by the federal government to suppress the brown tree snake, allowing for local organizations to study the best way to eradicate the species as well as bring awareness to the issue and report a brown tree snake to the dedicated hotline if spotted. The island also places heavy emphasis on detecting the species through canines, thorough inspection, and traps around primarily port areas (Joshua, 2020). These prevention tactics are also practiced on neighboring islands to further block out the population of brown tree snakes in the Northern Mariana Islands. With the continuous application of rigorous prevention tactics, awareness, and species population control, Guam was able to reduce the brown tree snake population to a maximum of twenty snakes per acre and rates are declining as time passes (Brown tree snake, 2021).
Boiga irregularis. (n.d.). Global Invasive Species Database. http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=54
Joshua, T. H. (2020, June 3). Interior Announces $3.4 Million for Brown Tree Snake Control on Guam. U.S. Department of the Interior. https://www.doi.gov/oia/press/interior-announces-34-million-brown-tree-snake-control-guam.
Guam Agriculture. (2020). United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights/2020/census-guam.pdf.
Wandrag, E. & Rogers, H. (2017, August 31). Guam’s Forests Are Being Slowly Killed Off – By A Snake. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/guams-forests-are-being-slowly-killed-off-by-a-snake-83224.
Brown tree snake. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_tree_snake.
Alyssa Martin, Advertising/Public Relations, Bellisario College of Communications
For this entry I have decided to discuss the topic of invasive species. The area I am focusing on is a city and the legislative capital of South Africa, called Cape Town. This area is larger than those previously discussed, but they are dealing with a rather challenging problem so I think it is important to consider. When the article that I found had been written in 2018, Cape Town had just cut it really close to being the first major city in the world to run out of water supply. Luckily, they were able to enforce tight restrictions and salvage as much water as they could.
A major reason that water is so scarce and why Cape Town is so vulnerable is due to invasive species. Oftentimes when I think of invasive species, I think of odd insects or unfamiliar animals, which can sometimes be the case. However, I never really thought of plants as invasive species until this class and this article. At least 7 new species are identified in South Africa annually, and almost 800 invasive species have been identified – most of which are actually plants! In Cape Town alone it was found that invasive plants consumed an enormous amount of water per day, over 100 million liters which equates to about 20% of the city’s daily water usage.
The forecasted impacts on this community from invasive species are projected to just get worse. Research shows that if nothing is done to slow the spread of invasive species, especially trees that take in the most water, by 2050, Cape Town’s water losses will triple. Previous efforts to enforce regulations and spending copious amounts of money to curb the growth of invasive species has not been a successful enough solution to this issue. To make progress in the area and come up with an effective solution, environmentalists are calling for better funding, and larger research efforts as a national priority.
Wild, S. (2018, November 7). South Africa’s Invasive Species Guzzle Water and Hurt the Economy. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/south-africas-invasive-species-guzzle-water-and-hurt-the-economy/
The threat to the medium-sized city of Alexandra comes from the arrival of the European rabbits. A seemingly harmless species, but when certain parameters are met, it can actually cause a lot of damage to the local ecosystem. The European rabbit is considered an invasive species in New Zealand, which has led to the loss of biodiversity in areas such as Alexandra, New Zealand. Alexandra is vulnerable to invasive species like this rabbit due to the lack of nearby natural enemies. The lack of predators like wolves and foxes makes it easier for European rabbits to survive until they breed, so if there is little threat to their survival from the outside world, their numbers will rapidly increase. The ability of these rabbits to dig holes makes the community more vulnerable to property/crop destruction as it is difficult to confine the rabbits to specific areas. The agriculture-dominant area provides a unique habitat for rabbits, including a rich food source (crops, their leaves, weeds, etc.) and a cover from predators/hunters. European rabbits can constantly eat bushes, crops, leaves, often fescue and grass, and due to the large number of rabbits, vegetation populations suffer more damage. A large part of Alexandra are farmers, who make their living from crops. The widespread lack of plants will result in less fertile soil in the city, as decaying plants generally provide natural compost and “fertilizer” to the soil. If no measures are taken to control the population, the vegetation in the area will be damaged and the local carbon cycle may be disrupted, severely reducing the total amount of respiration and photosynthesis of the plants. One way to deal with this threat has been around for some time: it is a tradition to hunt rabbits every year around Easter. For example, in the three days from Good Friday to Eastern Sunday this year, nearly 12,000 rabbits were shot and killed in New Zealand’s Alexandra region. Another way to reduce the effort in the long-term is to introduce new predators to rabbits locally, such as wolves. If predators such as wolves are introduced into the area, the abundance of rabbits will easily become prey for wolves and cause a significant increase in the population of local wolves, so their existence will have a negative impact on the community. Careful planning and introduction of predators can be cost-effective in the long-term. Another population control measure is the introduction of a disease that can spread in rabbit populations and cause casualties. If not implemented correctly, this control measure is also risky, because if preventive measures are not considered, the disease may spread to other similar species or even to humans. In Australia in the 1950s, the deliberate transmission of this disease (myxomatosis virus) in rabbit populations had worked to some extent, but due to the lack of appropriate insect carriers/spreaders, it did not work in New Zealand. Also, it is worth noting that due to natural selection, the repeated transmission of the same or similar diseases to control the population of rabbits may lead to the enhancement of immunity within the population.
ALEXANDRA. (2020, October 23). City Population. https://www.citypopulation.de/en/newzealand/southisland/otago/2200__alexandra/
European rabbit. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_rabbit
Hunt, E. (2021, April 4). New Zealand town where Easter is all about wiping out bunnies.The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/05/new-zealand-easter-bunny-hunt-pest
Rabbits. (n.d.). Department of Conservation. https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/rabbits/#:~:text=Rabbits%20European%20rabbits%20were%20amongst%20the%20earliest%20of,both%20main%20islands%20and%20on%20many%20offshore%20islands
Invasive Species in Santa Cruz, Curacao
Amanda Monahan, Biology, Penn State University
The small city of Santa Cruz in Curacao is threatened by an invasive species known as lionfish. It is a carnivorous red and white banded fish native to the Indo- Pacific. They are a venomous fish with no known predators. Lionfish also reproduce all year long, with females laying millions of eggs a year. They are a known predator of a variety of fish species in Curacao. Many of these fish species are important to Curacao’s reefs, so the presence of lionfish puts these reefs in danger. Lionfish are a top predator (due to the fact that they have no known predators), meaning that they are well-equipped to outcompete many of Curacao’s marine predators, further harming the ecosystem.
Lionfish are not only a threat to the corals surrounding Santa Cruz, but also to the people living in this community. They effectively outcompete and eliminate many fish important to Curacao’s dominant fishing industry. They also harm the corals, which could have a negative effect on Curacao’s tourism as many tourists come to see these reefs. However, lionfish help the community slightly, as their presence draws in some tourism. However, overall these fish still have a very negative effect on the city (Lionfish Curacao 2021).
In the future, the presence of lionfish is expected to decrease small fish populations, and also decrease the number of corals surrounding Curacao. They are also expected to outcompete many local big fish, hurting Curacao’s fishing industry. These include mahi mahi, snapper, and grouper. Lionfish may draw in more tourists, but could scare aware others due to their incredibly dangerous venom.
To solve this invasive species crisis, many steps should be taken. Lionfish hunting can be promoted. This sport draws in tourists, while simultaneously lessening the threat created by the fish. Lionfish could also be advertised more as a food item, and served at more restaurants in Curacao. This would require some strategic marketing (as many individuals are scared of eating lionfish), but could be an effective way to reduce lionfish numbers in the future.
Lionfish Curacao: Education and Awareness. (2021, March 8). Dive Curaçao. www.divecuracao.info/sustainability/lionfish-curacao-education-and-awareness/.
Invasive Species – Lionfish, Florida Keys
Lionfish are native to tropical waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans but were introduced to South Florida waters in the 1980s. With a quick growth rate, lack of predators, and fast reproduction, this species quickly dominated Florida waters, becoming an invasive species. These fish have enormous appetites, growing to 18 inches long, and lack true predators due to their poisonous spikes. They wreak havoc on fish communities and disrupt the balance of Florida’s coral reefs. Lionfish rid Florida waters of algae-eating species, leaving algae unchecked, and prey on the same food sources as grouper and snapper which are native fish and a popular food source of the communities of the Florida Keys (Office of Communications, 2020).
If left unchecked, this species will continue to grow, further offsetting the balance of coral reefs and driving down the population of grouper, snapper, and lobster. This could have a negative economic impact on the tourism of the Florida Keys since it is such a popular fishing destination for avid fishermen. Tourism could diminish from the threat of lionfish and the decline of sought-after fish such as grouper and snapper.
REEF is an organization that has developed fishing derbys all around Florida to reduce the number of lionfish in these waters. Organized multi-day fishing events bring in thousands of lionfish catches and create economic stimulus for the threatened communities. Education is the main component of the events, but tourism, vendors, and local restaurants all play a part. In communities of the Florida Keys, local restaurants are including Lionfish as a local delicacy and trying to promote the consumption of this abundant fish (Lionfish Derbies, n.d.).
Another solution which is controversial is laying out lobster traps to catch lionfish. Traps are notoriously frowned upon by conservationists but yield the largest numbers of lionfish. Fish traps were outlawed in Florida nearly 20 years ago, but locals are suggesting a pilot program of laying out lobster traps during off-season fishing to reduce the number of lionfish. Other local fishermen claim to haul in thousands of pounds of lionfish in lobster traps in a day’s time (Renner, 2019).
All in all, this fish needs to be eliminated, or else the delicate biome of the Florida Keys will continue to be offset by this invasive species. Community efforts have proven successful, and recent reports are showing a decline in lionfish numbers of the Florida Keys.
M.Côtéa, L.-C. C. (2016, December). ScienceDirect. ELSEVIER Marine Policy, 158-164. ELSEVIER Marine Policy.
Office of Communications. (2020, March 30). Impacts of Invasive Lionfish. NOAA Fisheries 150th Anniversary. https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/ecosystems/impacts-invasive-lionfish
Lionfish Derbies. (n.d.). Reef Environmental Education Foundation. https://www.reef.org/lionfish-derbies
Renner, R. (2019, January 2). Florida’s Answer to Invasive Lionfish? If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em. Civil Eats. https://civileats.com/2019/01/02/floridians-answer-to-invasive-lionfish-if-you-cant-beat-em-eat-em/
Forestry and Invasive Species in Lake George, New York
Eric Myskowski, Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Science
Another town that will be impacted by climate change is Lake George, New York. This is because of warming temperatures, and an invasive insect called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid that will cause damage to its forests. Currently, the forests around the lake contain many hemlock trees. While only 10 percent of the trees in upstate New York are hemlocks, the percentage in Lake George is much higher, so it has the possibility to do a lot of damage to the forests specifically in Lake George.
This is a big concern for many reasons. The first is that these trees typically grow along streams and rivers, helping protect the water quality. The trees have evergreen needles that help block sunlight from hitting the streams and rivers, keeping the water cooler, which is beneficial for fish like trout. Hemlocks are also aesthetically pleasing, looking similar to Christmas trees, helping to define the woods and make them more appealing to tourists. The last is their ecological value. They provide habitat for numerous birds and other animals.
If unchecked, the adelgid would end up killing virtually every hemlock tree in the area, causing the forests to become unhealthy before they are eventually replaced by other less valuable species. All these benefits would be greatly reduced, and it would cause significant ecological and environmental harm.
Climate change will only exacerbate this problem. Right now, cold temperatures are one of the main factors that are keeping the adelgids at bay in Lake George. However, with climate change, warmer winters will cause more of them to survive the winter and their populations will grow and become more destructive. This will be combined with the fact that some are already more cold adapted than others, so any lessening of the cold winters will cause trouble.
There are many things that can be done to stop or at least mitigate the problem. People can learn what they look like and report them if they see them. If they can be located quick enough, there are expensive but effective treatments that can be done on the trees. This will only work if they do not get out of control first. One other thing that people should not do is import these trees from other areas. This can spread the disease. There are also biological controls that are being tried, releasing predatory insects from its native range to control populations. While this insect is a major threat to the Lake George area, it can be mitigated and the trees can be mostly saved, as long as people do their part to stop it.
Cm933. (2019, July 31). Cold Temperatures Spell Disaster for HWA…Or Do They? Cornell Blogs. https://blogs.cornell.edu/nyshemlockinitiative/2018/01/10/cold-temperatures-spell-disaster-for-hwa-or-do-they/
Craig, G. (2020, August 13). Invasive woolly adelgid insect found off the shores of Lake George. Times Union. https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Invasive-woolly-adelgid-insect-found-off-the-15481229.php
Invasive Species in Yecheon: Asian yellow-legged hornet
Jiho Park, Psychology, Penn State University
Yecheon is a small city located in the southern part of South Korea. Just like any rural city in Korea, Yecheon is also experiencing aging, and, with the exception of the center of the city, it lags behind other major cities.
The problem in this area is an invasive species called yellow-legged hornet. Yellow-legged hornets usually inhabited subtropical climate regions, such as Vietnam. The primary food source of yellow-legged hornets is honeybees, so the presence of yellow-legged hornets is directly connected to damage on bee farms.
The Yellow-legged hornet was first found in South Korea in 2003. Experts anticipated that Yellow-legged hornets could not survive winter in South Korea, but due to climate change and global warming, they have successfully survived in South Korea and have been thriving for 18 years. Since Yecheon is located in the southern part of South Korea, which is much warmer than the northern part, it allows yellow-legged hornets to survive successfully in that area. Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, where Yecheon city is located, produces 30% of the country’s honey output. Also, Yecheon has been investing in the honey business since 1997. They produce their own brand of honey called “Geum-dang honey” by using the acacia plant in that region, and they are also trying to develop a new variety of honeybees to raise the amount of honey production. Therefore, the presence of Yellow-legged hornets seriously damages Yecheon’s economy and furthermore, it will damage the country’s honey production.
According to the Agricultural Technology Center, annual damages due to the Yellow-legged hornet is over 150 million dollars. Also, AMNews said that the population of Yellow-legged hornets keeps growing, so damage will increase.
To prevent the damage, studying the ecology and habit of Yellow-legged hornets is necessary. Also, the government should find pest control techniques and try to reduce the number of hornets. The Rural Development Administration in Korea is currently encouraging the elimination of the queen bee of a Yellow-legged hornet nest by using a decoy.
Agricultural Technology Center. (2020, May 11). Climate Change Increase Yellow-legged Hornet but reduce other hornets. gijang.go.kr. https://www.gijang.go.kr/board/view.gijang?boardId=BBS_0000014&menuCd=DOM_000000605003000000&dataSid=170505
Choi, J. H. (n.d.). ’Bee Killer’ Occupy Korea…. No Solution for 14 Years. yna.co.kr. https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20170804136000060
yunhap news. (2018, September 26). Invasion of Yellow-legged Hornet which Threatening Bee Farm. gnnews.co.kr. http://www.gnnews.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=338678
Zachary Plunkett, Software Engineering, Penn State Behrend
Due to globalization and climate change, invasive species have begun to harm many ecosystems around the world. An invasive species is an exotic species in an area that causes harm either to the environment or the economy. Invasive species often compete for the same resources that are needed by the native species. This can lead to a decrease in native species or even extinction in some situations. One way economic impacts of invasive species can occur is resources needed by businesses being depleted. This could be fish populations or fruit bearing trees suffering damages.
Sarteneja, Belize is a fishing community of about three and a half thousand people. The region and Sarteneja specifically depend on the diversity of the ocean for food and tourism. The country of Belize as a whole gets about twenty five percent of its revenue from tourism. In recent years, invasive species have been moving into the area and are threatening the local economy and way of life.
In 2008, the first sighting of a lionfish was confirmed in Belize. Since then, the lionfish population has exploded. This population growth is due to mainly three factors. For one, the waters around Belize have warmed slightly due to climate change, making it perfect for lionfish. Second, female lionfish can lay up to two million eggs over their lifetime. Lastly, lionfish have no natural predators in the oceans of Belize and consume many of the fish species that are vital to the ecosystem in Belize. Traditionally, the fishermen of Sarteneja dive for lobsters and conch. But the lionfish are competing for the same resources, reducing the populations affecting fishing yields.
To combat this invasive species, the village of Sarteneja was taught how to properly clean the lionfish. When lionfish first began to take over in the area, fishermen were too afraid of the venom contained in the barbs of the fish. They were simply allowed to overtake the local ecosystem. Now however, they are a supplemental part of the economy. Conches and lobsters can only be fished for part of the season, but now the fishermen are able to hunt the lionfish year round. This allows them to help cull the invasive species and provide for their needs.
Norton, B. B. & Norton, S. A. (2021). Lionfish Envenomation in Caribbean and Atlantic Waters: Climate Change and Invasive Species. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 7(1), 120–23. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2020.05.016.
Frequently Asked Question About Invasive Species. (2021). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. www.fws.gov/invasives/faq.html.
Sarteneja. (2021). In Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarteneja.
Bourn, L. (2020, August 12). Lionfish and Coral Reefs: Volunteering at a Marine Reserve. Youth STEM 2030. www.youthstem2030.org/youth-stem-matters/read/lionfish-and-coral-reefs-volunteering-at-a-marine-reserve.
Invasive Species in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sarah Raver, Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering
Invasive species are defined as any organism that is introduced into an environment, resulting in negative effects on the native species and ecosystem (Invasive species…, 2021). We have heard about invasive species before, whether it is the infamous cane toad in Australia, the spotted lanternfly damaging plants in Pennsylvania, or English ivy crawling throughout your flower beds. Swallow-wort, a member of the milkweed family (Invasive Species…, n.d.), is an invasive species that has spread throughout Massachusetts. The weed has been shown to negatively impact monarch butterflies and songbirds (Bolton, 2009). Female monarchs usually lay their eggs on milkweed, which provides resources for the caterpillars. However, when swallow-wort is present in a field with milkweed, the butterflies will sometimes mistakenly lay their eggs on it, which cannot be eaten by the offspring. Additionally, as swallow-wort spreads, it reduces other native species by growing over them and even producing chemical toxins to hinder surrounding plant growth (Invasive Species…, n.d.). Cambridge, Massachusetts has waged war against this pesky plant as it takes over fields. It is believed to have been introduced in the mid-1800s, and the spread has been referenced in horticulture literature as beginning in Cambridge. It is particularly hard to remove because its roots do not pull out easily, and it can grow in both shade and sun (Annear, 2019). With the effects of global temperature rise and increased carbon dioxide, it is predicted that a lot of weeds will grow much better. In Cambridge, warmer temperatures will likely be observed for more days out of the year, extending the growing period for this invasive species, and precipitation will remain the same or maybe even slightly increase (Bralower & Bice, n.d.). Some things can be done to control the spread of this weed. It is recommended to dig up the plant to get its roots, rather than just cutting it. Some herbicides may be effective as well with repeated exposure (Invasive Species…, n.d.). Additionally, Harvard University has taken on a project to use Hypena opulenta, a Ukrainian moth, to eat the swallow-wort and reduce its impacts on the local ecosystem (Caldwell, 2019). This moth has been approved by Canada, and in 2013, it was released in Ontario (Invasive Species…, n.d.). This may seem like a risky experiment to embark on, as it has been the cause of other invasive species introductions, like the cane toad. Bringing in one species to eat another does not always have positive effects on the ecosystem. After extensive lab research to ensure that the moths were selective in eating only the swallow-wort, in 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture gave approval to release the moths and study their effect on the weed. A recent study in 2019 showed impressive success of the moths in laying eggs and consuming the swallow-wort in a controlled environment (Annear, 2019).
Annear, S. (2019, September 5). ‘It’s like a plague’: Arnold Arboretum using moths native to Ukraine to fend off invasive plants. The Boston Globe. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/09/05/like-plague-arnold-arboretum-using-moths-native-ukraine-fend-off-invasive-plant/qxZyusSyai3Qz0fj1rRZkK/story.html
Bolton, E. (2009, July 28). Black Swallow-wort in Massachusetts – Join the Fight. Centers & Squares. https://centersandsquares.com/2009/07/28/black-swallow-wort-in-massachusetts-join-the-fight/
Bralower, T., & Bice, D. (n.d.). Course Home Page. Earth in the Future. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth103/node/508
Caldwell, N. (2019, September 17). How communities are dealing with invasive species across the U.S. Stacker. https://stacker.com/stories/3490/how-communities-are-dealing-invasive-species-across-us
Invasive species. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_species
Invasive Species Alert. (n.d.). University of Minnesota Monarch Joint Venture. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/documents/Swallow-wort_flyer_MJV.pdf
Spotted Lanternfly in Springfield, Pennsylvania
Liam Vaughan, Film/Video Production, Penn State Bellisario College of Communications
Ever since the summer of 2019, Spotted Lanternflies have been swarming my own yard. The problem of this invasive species is incredibly important due to its personal effects on my hometown. The invasive spotted lanternflies come from Asia and have spread across the state of Pennsylvania. Each summer, the spotted lanternflies come out in mass quantities to eat various plants that inhabit Delaware County. They specifically target plants such as grapevines, maple trees, birch, and willow trees which are important to the economy of the area. By damaging or killing the plants they eat, the spotted lanternflies could take away over $300 million of the state’s economy.
Due to their mass population spurt each year and the difficulty of finding their homes in incredibly wooded areas such as Springfied, it is hard to gain control over the species. It is mostly reliant on those that live in the area to be able to take the problem into their own hands. However, for those uneducated on the spotted lanternflies, they may not be able to fully recognize when they see one. At each stage of their life, a spotted lanternfly takes various looks. Going from completely black with white spots to red and black with white spots before gaining tan wings as adults that will hide their spots unless they’re flying.
Springfield and the rest of Delaware Country are taking it upon themselves to educate as many people as they can on the dangers of the invasive species. The entire county has been deemed a quarantine zone to try and minimize the spread of the lanternflies through cars moving from one area to another. The county even held special training sessions for people to learn more about the spotted lanternflies and how to deal with them. Luckily, people dealing with the invasion of the lanternflies are able to treat their area by simply killing the bug when they see it. While someone killing a few of the lanternflies by swatting them with their shoe will not solve the entire invasion, the mass community of Springfield coming together to learn about the species and working to kill the bug when they see it can leave an impactful mark on dealing with the lanternflies.
Bennett, J. (2019, October 15). IT’S STILL A THREAT! SPOTTED LANTERNFLY SPREADING THROUGH DELCO. The Spirit. https://chesterspirit.com/2019/10/its-still-a-threat-spotted-lanternfly-spreading-through-delco/
Bennett, M. (2019, July 26). Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Training Coming To Delco. Patch. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/springfield-pa/spotted-lanternfly-quarantine-training-coming-delco
Bennett, M. (2019, August 13). Delco Areas Being Treated For Spotted Lanternfly. Patch. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/media/delco-areas-being-treated-spotted-lanternfly
Devlin, L. (n.d.). Spotted Lanternfly. Delaware County Pennsylvania. https://delcopa.gov/ich/resources/spottedlanternfly.html
Spotted Lanternfly. (n.d.). Penn State Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly
Spotted Lanternfly. (2021). Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/PlantIndustry/Entomology/spotted_lanternfly/Pages/default.aspx
Sydney Wilson, Biology, Penn State University Eberly College of Science
The kariba weed, or Salvinia molesta is an invasive species from Brazil and Argentina. It is an aquatic fern that grows and floats on the surface of lakes, rivers, and ponds. Its ability to spread to other bodies of water using small plant fragments is what makes it so invasive. It can be a serious issue if the kariba weed invades freshwater and spreads to new areas. Since kariba weed grows on the surface of a lake, it can block out light, causing plant life to die, thereby decreasing oxygen levels in the water. As a result, native species will die because of low oxygen, less vegetation, less prey, and a combination of other factors. The African manatee is native species that is greatly affected by the invasion of kariba weed in freshwater. Low oxygen levels and sunlight are causing macrophyte vegetation to die and thereby killing the main source of food to the manatees. The disappearance of macrophyte beds caused by the growth of kariba weed forced the African manatee into the endangered species category.
The excessive growth of kariba weed is impacting a long list of freshwater lakes, ponds, and oceans in Africa and the rest of the world. Lake Ossa is a large freshwater lake located in Cameroon, Africa, that is filled with kariba weed. There used to be a diverse population of species living near Lake Ossa, like fish, turtles, crocodiles, and manatees. However, kariba weed is threatening the lake’s ecosystem as well as impacting communities that live near the lake. The town of Dizangue is one community that relies on Ossa’s wildlife to feed and support their people.
Dizangue is a community where fishermen fish on Lake Ossa. A local fisherman named Moukoko Daniel has fished for years in Lake Ossa and describes that kariba weed has dramatically changed the ecosystem. He sees that the invasive weed is rapidly growing and decreasing sunlight exposure. Furthermore, Daniel is noticing that he doesn’t see a lot of fish compared to previous years. Daniel and other locals depend on fishing to make a living and they are trying to preserve the lake’s ecosystem. The locals have decided to clean up abandoned fish nets that trap fish and help the invasive weed grow. Removing abandoned fish nets will prevent kariba weed from growing on them and spreading to other parts of the lake. Daniel is working with Net-Works, a company that is helping 40 communities in Cameroon and the Philippines to recover abandoned nets. On another hand, a scientist named Wendy Forno released a Salvinia weevil beetle to control kariba weed. These beetles only feed on the weed and avoid other aquatic plants. This has led to a decrease in kariba weed in bodies of freshwater and this technique can be used to control weed growth in Lake Ossa.
Akua, N. (2021, March 29). The Invasive Weed That Travelled the World. BBC. www.bbc.com/future/article/20210329-the-humble-beetle-that-could-rescue-a-town.
Langenheim, J. (2021, February 10). The Cameroonians Turning Discarded Fishing Nets into Opportunity. National Geographic. www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/partner-content-prada-renylon-lakeossa-cameroon.
Alaina Burns, Health Policy and Administration, Penn State University
Tuxedo, NY is home to Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks, which recently began facing the issue of the invasive plant species Scotch broom. This shrub, which is characterized by bright yellow flowers and upward-reaching branches, forces and blocks native plants out of the area. It also creates thickets difficult for native wildlife to maneuver. This invasive plant is so harmful because it can produce up to 15,000 seeds per year, and those seeds can be left in the soil for up to 7 years. This area is especially vulnerable because it is already covered by many different types of vegetation, making the Scotch broom harder to identify and remove. Its seeds are spread through water flow, grass mowing, and insects carrying them. It is also adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soils, which many of Tuxedo’s native plants are unable to do. Growths like these disrupt the local ecosystems, including the native plants and animals, driving local species out of these protected parks. Specifically for wildlife, this occurrence can cause displacement and interactions with humans that state parks are created with the intent to avoid. Because this issue is relatively new to Tuxedo, there isn’t an immediate threat to the community. However, if left unresolved, the local ecosystem and its resources could be completely overturned, disrupting the local ecological balance, and transforming these state parks entirely. Again, because the issue began more recently, there has been little discussion on the long-term forecast of this community. This is also due to the fact that strong initiatives have already been put in place to combat the threat. A system called Conservation Dogs has been implemented through which early intervention and prevention is practiced so that the shrub can be removed. This program takes dogs from shelters, old breeders, etc., and trains them to sniff out invasive species. The program’s biggest star is Dia, a Labrador retriever trained to sniff out Scotch broom and several other species. The Conservation Dogs program is beneficial for a variety of reasons. First, it replaces human scavenging, which is time-consuming and much less reliable. Second, it avoids the need for pesticides that are harmful to other plant and animal species. Third, it allows Scotch broom to be sniffed out before the bright flowers actually bloom, which is something that no other conservation method can accomplish. Overall, the situation is relatively manageable, and Tuxedo, NY should have very few issues if it continues with its conservation and prevention efforts.
Caldwell, N. (2019, September 17). How Communities Are Dealing with Invasive Species across the U.S. Stacker. stacker.com/stories/3490/how-communities-are-dealing-invasive species-across-us.
Esch, M. (2019, August 24). Wags and Weeds: Invasive Plants Meet Match in Detection Dogs. AP NEWS. apnews.com/article/science-lifestyle-ap-top-news-new york-new-york-city-b57bc5e73f0648be9c0f822c9c220cdd.
PRISM. (2020, may 6). Scotch Broom. Western New York PRISM.
Smith, W. (2021, May 11). Conservation Dogs Program. New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. www.nynjtc.org/content/conservation-dog-program.
Invasive Pests Take Over Monterey, California
Anna Capria, Biobehavioral Health with a minor in Biomedical Ethics, Penn State University
Invasive species are becoming an increasing threat to ecosystems in the United States. Invasive species are non-native plants, insects, animals, or organisms that are likely to cause harm to ecosystems in terms of environmental resources, economic values, or human health. A particular concern is the ability of invasive species to out-compete native species, which reduces biodiversity in the ecosystem causing widespread environmental damage, including damage to agricultural crops (Invasive species, n.d.).
Monterey, California is one community that is especially vulnerable to invasive species, principally invasive insects, because agriculture is a key component of the local economy (Invasive Species at…, n.d.). This small city is located about 85 miles south of San Francisco (The Editors, n.d.). Twenty percent of its households rely primarily on income that is related to local agriculture, which supplies Monterey County with $3.9 billion each year (Facts, n.d.). Monterey is among the most productive and effective farming communities in the world, and is a key player in the nation’s food supply (Facts, Figures…, n.d.). In fact, Monterey supplies a significant percentage of the produce consumed in the U.S., including “61% of leaf lettuce, 57% of celery, 56% of head lettuce, 48% of broccoli, 38% of spinach, 30% of cauliflower, 28% of strawberries, and 3.6% of wine grapes” (Facts, Figures…, n.d.). Once a picturesque farming community, Monterey is now plagued with invasive pests like the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Light Brown Apple Moth, which threaten crops (Industrial hemp, n.d.).
This modest, agricultural city is forecasted to experience a rise in invasive pests. There is also increasing concern that climate change may make it easier for foreign pests to invade new environments. Once established in an ecosystem, invasive pests are extremely difficult to eliminate (Invasive Species at…, n.d.).
There are several potential solutions to address the spread of invasive species in Monterey and other areas. Planting native species (and avoiding non-native plantings) can help native fauna and flora to thrive, and promotes the reproduction of native insects. By avoiding planting ornamental or exotic plants, there will be fewer resources for foreign pests to utilize (Invasive Species at…, n.d.). It is also important for Californians to be vigilant to not bring invasive pests home when traveling, so that means being careful to clean clothes, boats, animals, and any other items that could possibly transfer invasive species (Invasive species, n.d.). While these solutions are small, they are critical to stem the infestation of invasive species.
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2011). Monterey. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Monterey-California.
Facts, Figures & FAQs. (n.d.). Monterey County Farm Bureau. http://montereycfb.com/index.php?page=facts-figures-faqs.
Invasive species. (n.d.). Forest Service: U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/invasive-species#:~:text=Some%20examples%20of%20the%20diversity,woodwasp%2C%20Burmese%20python%2C%20Japanese%20knotweed.
Industrial hemp. (n.d.). Monterey County, CA. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
Invasive Species at Monterey Bay. (n.d.). National Marine Sanctuary. https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/sentinel-site-program/monterey-bay/invasive-species.html.
Ryan Crinnigan, Digital Journalism and Media, World Campus
Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya, with a population of around 345,000. It is located in the Lake Victoria Basin, which lies at the northeast of corner of Lake Victoria. Kisumu is reliant on Lake Victoria for a variety of uses, including fishing and shipping. The lake contains a wide variety of fish species, including tilapia, which is a critical food and economic resource (The Editors…, 2021).
Lake Victoria has suffered outbreaks of water hyacinth, widely considered by ecologists as the world’s most problematic and damaging water plant. The plant is spongy and dense, bunching together on water to form giant mats that cover large areas. The mats are so massive and thick that they make human activity on the water nearly impossible, preventing fishing, shipping, recreation, and more. They can also damage hydroelectric plants. Experts believe the plant was introduced to the region in the 1980s as a decorative plant (Food and Agriculture…, 2000).
Water hyacinth is difficult to eradicate once it is introduced to a freshwater area. Its growth is rapid and extreme; water hyacinth coverage can double in 6-18 days, making immediate treatment and control a critical objective (Eichhornia crassipes…, n.d.). The plant can also grow as much as three feet above water, making clearance extremely difficult. The massive hyacinth mats can displace other aquatic plants, while also preventing fresh oxygen from infusing into the water, eliminating fish and other species (Eichhornia crassipes…, n.d.). While catfish enjoy the decreased oxygen in the water, it harms the more economically lucrative tilapia (Delaunay, 2019). Its seeds are also easily dispersed during catastrophic weather events, which, as we have learned throughout this course, are only likelier to continue in the future. In Kenya, the plant has crowded waterways near Kimusu, preventing transportation, shipping, and fishing. The dense, tangly plant is so difficult to navigate in a boat that fishers trapped in the mats have required helicopter rescue (Delaunay, 2019).
The approach to solving the water hyacinth problem on Lake Victoria has evolved. To control previous outbreaks, Australian scientists collaborated with local researchers to introduce small weevils into the area. These weevils have a strong natural appetite for water hyacinth and were successful in mitigating the massive outbreak of the 1990s (Collins, 2000). Given the plant’s resilience, recent outbreaks have reoccurred. But scientists have developed some amazing technology that converts water hyacinth to biofuel. They have delivered biogas digesters to villages in Kenya, including Dunga, a small village in Kisumu. Villagers fill these digesters with combinations of water hyacinth and cow dung, and the digesters emit a gas that can be used for cooking and other household activities (Nakweya, 2019). Hopefully, given the perpetual nature of hyacinth outbreaks, the plant can lead to overall benefits for residents of Kisumu and other localities.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2021). Lake Victoria. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Lake-Victoria.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2000, August 16). Fighting water weeds in West Africa. News & Highlights. https://www.fao.org/News/2000/000705-e.htm.
Eichhornia crassipes. (n.d.). University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Delaunay, N. (2019, February 8). On Lake Victoria, a green stain spreads across Africa’s blue heart. Phys Org. https://phys.org/news/2019-02-lake-victoria-green-africa-blue.html.
Collis, B. (2000). The Beetle That Saved Lake Victoria. Australian Broadcasting Company. https://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/hyacinth/.
Nakweya, G. (2019. August 27). Kenya warms to the water hyacinth as wonder source of biofuel. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/aug/27/kenya-water-hyacinth-wonder-source biofuel. Accessed 13 Dec 2021.
Welcome Rains Bring Unwelcome Guests
Rachel Crozier, Political Science, World Campus
Jijiga, Ethiopia is a community of around 160,000 people. An agricultural community in a low-lying grassland, Jijiga is known to have longstanding issues with food insecurity due to drought and rising temperatures. The people living in Jijiga grow sorghum, wheat, barley, and maize, and some raise livestock. For many families, crops are their only source of income. This area of Ethiopia has a rainy season and a dry season. The crops are rain-fed, and the families depend greatly upon the rainy season from year to year.
A recent threat to the Jijiga community are locusts. While rainfall would seem to be welcome in the region, unusually heavy rainfall attracts locusts and provides conditions for them to reproduce rapidly. Rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean are causing heavier and sometimes more frequent rainfall events. As explained in an article in The New York Times, while the area has dealt with locust populations before, the unusual rainfall has caused larger groups of locusts to swarm since 2018, destroying the already vulnerable crops in the region (Nuwer, 2021). The locusts can, in one day, consume as much food as 35,000 people (Biggar, 2021).
The climate projections are for continued warm ocean temperatures, leading to heavier rainfall in Jijiga, according to an article in Prevention Web (Biggar, 2021). This will likely mean continued locust swarms. If the families in Jijiga continue to lose their crops, they may be displaced and forced to look elsewhere for food and work, says Giulia Paravicini of Reuters (2020).
To combat the locusts, it is essential for communities in the region to work together, monitoring and tracking early signs of outbreaks before they become destructive swarms (Biggar, 2021). Along with current monitoring systems, experts are working on new models to predict future outbreaks (Nuwer, 2021). Along with these immediate actions, a global effort to cut carbon emissions is needed especially from those nations with high carbon output, to prevent continued warming.
Biggar, H. (2021, March 10). Locust Outbreaks in the Horn of Africa are Linked to the Changing Climate. PreventionWeb. https://www.preventionweb.net/news/locust-outbreaks horn-africa-are-linked-changing-climate.
Nuwer, R. (2021, April 8). As Locusts Swarmed East Africa, This Tech Helped Squash Them. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/science/locust-swarms africa.html.
Paravici, G. (2020, January 17). Locust Plague Devastates Crops in Horn of Africa. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-africa-locusts/locust-plague-devastates-crops-in-horn-of-africa-idUSKBN1ZG1GC.
Tommy Gutekunst, Computer Science, Penn State University
Feral boars are an issue sweeping across the United States. They wreak havoc in 39 states, but are most destructive in Texas. Over 50% of America’s feral swine reside in Texas, and they can thrive in any part of the vast Lone Star State. While any Texan area is prone to them, perhaps the worst is the Pineywoods of East Texas. The wild boars strongly resemble the common stereotype of goats, they eat practically anything. They also have extra-long snouts strengthened by a plate of cartilage. The consumption instinct and their physiological shovel combined with their fast reproductive rate make for a premier invasive species, as they rip up entire fields of crops and erode soil. Another aspect of concern is the boars are a rather smart species. They can avoid some traps and have a tactic of strategically removing planted seeds from fields. They destroy wild vegetation as well. On top of what they do to fields, they also threaten water ecosystems. They poison fish with excessive amounts of mud and other diseases because, like most invasive species, they also carry disease. They really are the perfect storm to disrupt any ecosystem.
This Pineywoods are so vulnerable because of the vast landscape. The land is endless but the farms are closer together than the Midwest. The second reason is nothing is stopping them. They don’t mind the heat and have no natural predators so there is no reason for them not to live there. Some made their home here when they originally came over for sport in the 1900s from Eurasia, and they have thrived ever since.
If something isn’t done, the feral boars will spiral out of control and destroy the Pineywoods’ ecosystem. They resemble a wildfire; they must be dealt with before they are out of control. Rivers and waterholes will become dirtier with less wildlife, native vegetation will die off, creating room for even more invasive vegetation, farmers will lose crops, hurting the economy, and disease will spread.
The Texas Wildlife Service is currently trying to remove the problem. While the number of swine still increases rapidly, they have made progress. A few years ago, Texas killed 24,648 wild boars in a year, nearly half, but they reproduce so quickly that it did not make a noticeable chunk into their reign. The Texas AgriLife Extension has sponsored roughly 100 programs to teach landowners how to identify, control, and kill this species. The goal is to continue what they are doing but hope to increase the rate. They are commonly known by those who would be willing to kill them. The only extra solution to do would be consider adding a predator to the ecosystem, but that comes with many extra risks.
Morthland, J. (2011, January 1). A Plague of Pigs in Texas. Smithsonian Institution. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/a-plague-of-pigs-in-texas-73769069/.
Spotted Lanternfly in Berks County
Madison Leugemors, Political Science, World Campus
For my fifth script I am focusing on the threat of invasive species, more specifically the spotted lanternfly. A community that is particularly vulnerable to this invasive species is Berks County in Pennsylvania. Berks has been a vulnerable community since 2014 when the Asia native spotted lanternfly was first seen in the country. Berks is especially vulnerable because it provides an environment that the insect can thrive in. Spotted lanternflies feed on plant sap of several plants, like grapevines, black walnuts, and maples, all of which are abundant in PA (Penn State, n.d.). They can also easily be spread around the community, and to others, if humans move materials with their eggs on it. Spotted lanternflies have been known to lay their eggs on almost any type of material, including cars, trees, and lawn furniture, so they have a high risk of continuing to spread (Johnson et al., 2021).
Because the spotted lanternfly is a serious pest, they can have a multitude of effects on the community. In order to feed on various plants, spotted lanternflies pierce the bark. This causes a ‘wound’ in the plant that allows pathogens to enter and infect trees (Johnson et al., 2021). Their excessive feedings cause great decay to a lot of Pennsylvania’s native plants. Additionally, when spotted lanternflies feed, they excrete a very sugary and sticky substance called honeydew. Honeydew encourages the growth of a black sooty mold. This mold can seriously harm the plants that it grows on. The sooty mold can block sunlight from reaching leaves, which prevents photosynthesis and quickens the rate of decay of these plants. This honeydew that they release can also attract a variety of other unwanted pests. This includes hornets and ants, which could even affect crop growth (Johnson et al., 2021). Spotted lanternflies could also affect the quality of life for those living in Berks. The insects can swarm outdoors in the spring and summer months and leave their honeydew on people’s patio furniture and children’s playgrounds (Pennsylvania Department…, n.d.). Lastly, the spotted lanternfly is a huge threat to Berks agricultural industry. The pests can harm fruit trees, nurseries, and the timber industries. According to a study done in 2019, they could cost the community up to $324 million a year and cost over 2,800 people their jobs (Locurto, 2021).
Luckily, Berks County has come up with solutions to this threat. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture urges people to report any sightings of the spotted lanternfly to their hotline or online portal. This allows the department to handle the invasion quicker. Additionally, Berks County has educated people on how to kill a spotted lanternfly if they are to come across one. They say to simply squash the bugs or use a registered insecticide to kill them (Swackhamer, 2021). And if someone is to come across their eggs, the county says to use a stick to scrape the eggs into a container and either burn them or fill the container with alcohol (Johnson et al., 2021).
Johnson, A., McCullough, D., & Isaacs, R. (2021, July 29). Spotted lanternfly: A colorful cause for concern. Michigan State University Department of Entomology. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/spotted-lanternfly-a-colorful-cause-for-concern
Locurto, T. (2021, August 11). Pa. has a solution to spotted lanternfly problem: Squish them. York Dispatch.
Penn State. (n.d.). Spotted Lanternfly. Penn State Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly#:%7E:text=Spotted%20lanternfly%20(SLF)%20is%20an,stop%20it%20in%20its%20tracks!
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Spotted Lanternfly Alert.
Swackhamer, E. (2021, November 17). Spotted Lanternfly Management and Pesticide Safety. Penn State Extension. https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-management-and-pesticide-safety
Invasive Species in Mtwapa, Kenya
Jenny MacDougall-Jeffery, Digital Multimedia Design, World Campus
The staple of the Kenya diet is maize, and one of the major agro-ecological communities that contributes to maize production is Mtwapa. For this assignment, we will look at how Mtwapa and their maize production is affected by the invasive species, Fall armyworm (Fall armyworm…, n.d.). Fall armyworm (FAW) is increasing and causes a loss of about a third of annual maize production (Groote et al., 2020). This is close to a deleterious level for the community, considering maize accounts for 30% of caloric intake. FAW is also one of the most destructive transboundary migratory pests.
There are several factors that make the community vulnerable and susceptible to this pest. For one, adult males can reproduce quickly, in large numbers, and migrate for hundreds of miles on prevailing winds and storm surges. Rising temperatures and drought in Mtwapa already create a cycle of food insecurity and starvation, coupled with the increased rate of FAW development due to drought conditions, Mtwapa is looking at generations of depredation (Waruru, 2019). Another vulnerability is the fact that smallholder farmers do not have the economic means nor the access to early detection technology, resulting in poor farming practices to control these pests. This can result in a lack of diversity in pest control strategies and cause FAW to develop resistance mutations, further complicating the management of these pests.
All of these vulnerabilities contribute to devastating impacts on agricultural production and livelihood in Mtwapa. Damage to maize yields due to FAW can mean a significant economic loss to farmers, as well as a serious threat to food security. FAW can lower crop yields by 50%, drastically impacting farmers’ livelihoods (Combatting an…, 2021). The unfortunate fact of the matter is, the greatest loss is felt by the smallholder farmer, as a majority of their farms are less than a hectare in size, and the purpose of these crops is mainly to stave off hunger and poverty (Bayer). Some farmers are entertaining the idea of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to manage the impact of FAWs, but this is considered risky as well, as it is not only expensive, but the science about GMOs impact on human health is still out. Pesticides have been used as a quick fix by smallholder farmers, however, this is creating low soil fertility, compounding the effect from these pests.
The risks posed by Fall armyworms and climate change will force farmers to adopt various strategies and solutions to mitigate this threat. Since Mtwapa has already been impacted by this invasive species, it needs to be prioritized by officials when it comes to control and eradication. Next, establish biosecurity measures to manage pathways of introduction, supported by early detection and rapid eradication, to further tackle FAW before they do any more damage. Encourage the application of biopesticides (tobacco plants), intercropping and natural enemies (ants) to destroy and confuse the pest (Waruru, 2019). And lastly, educate smallholder farmers and promote community action on how to curb FAW. These policies and initiatives need to be localized and targeted measures, on a county level, that is the only way to effectively mitigate the pain felt by climate change and this invasive species.
Combatting an Invasive Pest Exacerbated by Climate Change. (2021). Bayer. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.bayer.com/en/news-stories/fall-armyworm-combatting-another-invasive-pest-amidst-the-pandemic.
Groote, H. D., Kimenju, S. C., Munyua, B., Palmas, S., Kassie, M., & Bruce, A. (2020). Spread and impact of fall armyworm (spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith) in maize production areas of Kenya. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.106804.
Fall armyworm keeps spreading and becomes more destructive. (n.d.). FAO. https://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1142085/icode/.
Waruru, M. (2019, March 11). Fall armyworm attack: Desperation pushes Kenya farmers to Danger. Down To Earth. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/fall-armyworm-attack-desperation-pushes-kenya-farmers-to-danger-63525.
Destruction of Eastern Hemlock Forests in the Poconos
David Marcial, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State University
The hemlock woolly adelgid was first spotted on eastern hemlock trees in the 1950s, several decades after the invasive pest was first introduced to the United States from Asia. These insects appear as a white fuzzy coating and are known to lodge themselves to hemlock branches for their entire lives, feeding on sap and slowly killing the host trees in a matter of four to ten years (Nishikawa, 2021).
The adelgids are especially problematic in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania, where 300,000 to 500,000 hemlock trees exist in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area alone. The hemlock trees shade brooks and creeks, providing cool temperatures needed for trout to survive (Pocono Mountains Media Group, 2009). The trees also control runoff and water flow by absorbing large quantities of water in their roots (Climate Impact…, 2019). If too many of the hemlocks die, the entire Pocono ecosystem will be permanently disrupted and transformed.
There is growing concern that climate change is providing a more favorable habitat for the adelgid. For example, researchers in Tennessee found adelgid eggs hatching in December 2015, well outside the typical springtime birth period. That year featured an abnormally warm fall and early winter, perhaps signaling what the new normal of temperature and the adelgid life cycle will look like in the Appalachians (Alapo, 2016). These accelerated reproductive rates are concerning since the species will feed on and kill hemlock forests more quickly. Additionally, the geographic range of the species is likely to expand with global warming. Cold temperatures will less frequently be able to kill off the species, and warmer winters will allow the insects to crawl northward and destroy once-safe hemlock forests (Nishikawa, 2021).
Residents are taking several measures to protect hemlocks in their yards, including the application of horticultural oil and insecticides containing imidacloprid and dinotefuran (Nishikawa, 2021). Unfortunately, a solution has not yet been invented for large-scale eradication of the woolly adelgid. There has been experimentation with predatory beetles, but success at removing the adelgid has been limited at best. And although insecticides for personal use exist, spraying the entirety of the Delaware Water Gap would be dangerous, as chemicals would cause additional danger to the ecosystem. Unless a solution is found soon, as many as three-fourths of the hemlocks in the Water Gap could die in the coming years (Pocono Mountains Media Group, 2009).
Nishikawa, B. (2021, July 30). How to Control the Pest Threatening the Future of Hemlock Trees. The Allegheny Front. https://www.alleghenyfront.org/how-to-control-hemlock wooly-adelgid-threatening-the-future-of-hemlock-trees/
Climate Impact on the Eastern Hemlock. (2019, May 14). Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy. https://ctland.org/event/climate-impact-on-hemlocks-hemlock-woolly-adelgid/
Pocono Mountains Media Group. (2009, August 19). Hemlock, Pennsylvania State Tree, Worth a Special Fight. Student Conservation Association. https://www.thesca.org/news/hemlock-pennsylvania-state-tree-worth-special-fight
Alapo, L. (2016, February 25). Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Winter Activity Possibly Linked to Climate Change. The University of Tennessee Knoxville. https://news.utk.edu/2016/02/25/hemlock woolly-adelgid-winter-activity-possibly-linked-climate-change/
From the Aquarium to Top Invasive Species, Lionfish in Panama City, FL
Ava Drum, Industrial Engineering, Penn State University Class of 2022
Lionfish are originally from the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, but were first found off the coast of Florida in the mid-1980s (Impacts of…, 2022). The most likely cause for their introduction to the North American coast is aquarium releases in either North Carolina or Florida, and the lionfish population have since been found off the coasts from Rhode Island, through to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and all the way down to Brazil (Michelson, 2022). Their fast population growth can be seen in Figure 1 below. Lionfish are an invasive species because they don’t have predators in the Atlantic (and only a few predators where they are originally from) (Atlantic and…, n.d.), they have venomous spines and are effective hunters (known to eat over 70 fish species and eat at a rate of one to two fish per minute (Nuwer, 2013), reproduce at a fast rate (females can produce over 2 million eggs a year), and are adaptable to many coastal habitats (like mangroves, coral reefs, close to shore, and at great depths) (Atlantic and…, n.d.).
The lionfish population off the coast of Northwest Florida is growing especially fast. Panama City, Florida, is one such city in the Florida panhandle which is getting hit with an exploding lionfish population (Blanks, 2018). This community is vulnerable because the lionfish are damaging the native fish populations (like the grouper and snapper fish) and other fish that aid in the health of the coastal reef (Lionfish, n.d.). The forecasted impact of lionfish on the Panama City community is expected to worsen. There is a correlation between climate change and the lionfish population on where they can reproduce and spread (Hiromoto, 2018). As ocean temperatures warm, lionfish density will increase towards the coast (Tricarico, 2019). Lionfish have an intolerance to cold water, and this limit will cease to exist as oceans warm (Albano, 2017).
Multiple solutions are being used in Panama City to combat the invasive species. Three solutions being used in particular are increasing community awareness, lionfish spear fishing tournaments, and new forms of harvesting equipment. Community awareness and lionfish spear fishing tournaments go hand-in-hand. Panama City runs the Lion Tamer Drive Tournament and celebrates Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, which brings the community together to grow awareness of the issue while competing to reduce the population of lionfish in Panama City waters. These events are also meant to grow demand to consume lionfish so they are caught commercially on a much larger scale (Lionfish Roundup…, n.d.). New forms of specialized harvesting for lionfish have been created called the Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) curtain trap. This trap is placed in deep water where divers cannot reach to catch large groups of lionfish (Blanks, 2018).
Impacts of Invasive Lionfish. (2022). NOAA Fisheries.
Michelson, R. (2022, March 3). Lionfish an example of needed invasive species awareness. Coastal Review. https://coastalreview.org/2022/03/lionfish-an-example-of-needed-invasive-species-awareness/.
Atlantic and Caribbean: Lionfish Invasion Threatens Reefs. (n.d.). World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/research/reefs-risk-revisited/atlantic-and-caribbean-lionfish-invasion-threatens-reefs.
Nuwer, R. (2013, July 1). Invasive Lionfish Are Such Effective Predators They’re Becoming Obese. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/invasive-lionfish-are-such-effective-predators-theyre-becoming-obese-5253482/.
Blanks, A. (2018, July 22). Beautiful fish, big problem. Panama City News Herald.
Lionfish – Pterois volitans. (n.d.). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hiromoto, K. (2018, March 22). Lionfish, MPAs, and climate change: Have we created a sanctuary for invaders? Topics in Sustainable Fisheries. https://sites.uw.edu/bevanseries/2018/03/22/lionfish-mpas-and-climate-change-have-we-created-a-sanctuary-for-invaders/ (accessed Apr. 04, 2022).
Tricarico, D. (2019, October 23). Climate Change and Lionfish Go Hand in Hand. Women in Ocean Science. https://www.womeninoceanscience.com/blog/2019/10/23/climate-change-and-lionfish-go-hand-in-hand.
Albano, P. (2017, May 26). Effects of Climate Change on the invasive Lionfish: Pterois volitans and Pterois miles. Shark Research & Conservation Program (SRC) University of Miami.
Lionfish Roundup. (n.d.). Chasin’ the Sun TV Episode 3.
Invasive Species in Newport Beach
Nicholas Trombetta, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State University
Invasive species are non-native species that are present in a new ecosystem. They can be plants, animals, or other organisms that invade a non-native environment. These species are dangerous because the environment has no natural predators against them. This allows for their population to greatly increase, damaging the ecosystem, and potentially harming the native species that live there.
In Newport Beach, California, a species called Caulerpa Prolifera was rediscovered in the Newport Harbor in the beginning of March. This species has been found before, but officials thought that it was eradicated due to cleanup efforts. It is thought to have come back as a result of strong spring tides that lead into the channel of the harbor. A lot of sediment was displaced and it is thought that some of the Caulerpa was buried underneath the surface. The strong tides allowed this plant to resurface and to spread throughout the harbor. The Caulerpa Prolifera is an algae that is native to Florida and other tropical locations. This plant is not harmful to humans but can grow quickly and kill off native seaweeds that are in the water.
Newport Beach is particularly vulnerable because of how easily and quickly this species can spread throughout the harbor. The algae is capable of recolonization through fragmentation. This means that if one piece of the Caulerpa is broken off, it can move via water currents and root itself somewhere else. As a result of this method, the Caulerpa can spread easily, making it hard to contain and eradicate.
Additionally, because this plant is invasive, there are no natural predators present in the harbor. This allows the plants’ population to grow exponentially because there is no other species to prevent its growth. One problem with this is that the algae will drive out other native plant species. The Caulerpa compete with eelgrass beds and take their needed oxygen. This causes the eelgrass population to plummet because they cannot successfully compete with the Caulerpa population. This is damaging to the ecosystem of the harbor because the eelgrass provides food, oxygen, and shelter for marine animals that reside in the harbor. Additionally, the eelgrass are able to filter water pollutants and help reduce coastal erosion in Newport Harbor.
Officials have recognized this problem and have looked for solutions. The efforts to remove this Caulerpa have been funded through California’s Water Resources Control Board. They have spent over $600,000 on removal but estimate that an additional $285,000 will be needed to completely eradicate the invasive species. Officials will continue to conduct surveys over the next 3 years to ensure that no plant remains are buried under the surface, preventing their regrowth. Additionally, to eradicate Caulerpa, divers have been called to extract the plant using vacuum pumps. These vacuum pumps suck up material from the seafloor and pump it onshore into a container. Divers then separate this material between algae and other solids. Once they do this, natural materials are then returned into the harbor while the algae get eradicated.
KCAL News. (2021, July 8). Invasive Algae Cleanup Underway In Newport Beach. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/losangeles/news/invasive-algae-cleanup-underway-in-newport-beach/
Nguyen, L. (2022, March 17). Invasive algae species in Newport Harbor is not 100% gone, eradication expected over next few years. Daily Pilot. https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/story/2022-03-17/invasive-algae-species-in-newport-harbor-is-not-100-gone-eradication-expected-over-next-few-years
Herrold, J. (2021, July 20). After Months, a Harmful Algae That Takes Days to Remove May Finally Be Out of Newport Beach. Voice of OC. https://voiceofoc.org/2021/07/after-months-a-harmful-algae-that-takes-days-to-remove-may-finally-be-out-of-newport-beach/