New in February 2014 from the ISC

In February 2014 the following datasheets were published on CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium (ISC). You can explore the open-access ISC here: www.cabi.org/isc

Drosophila suzukii - The damage caused by D. suzukii larvae renders fruit unmarketable. In 2008 economic losses (based on maximum reported yield losses) for California, Oregon and Washington were estimated at 40% for blueberries, 50% for caneberries, 33% for cherries and 20% for strawberries. Production in these three states could sustain $511 million in damages annually because of D. suzukii. D. suzukii produces up to five times more hemocytes than D. melanogaster, making it significantly more resistant to wasp parasitism and making it less likely for indigenous specialized parasitoids to shift host onto it.

Drosophila suzukii ISC datasheet

Drosophila suzukii Invasive Species Compendium datasheet

Rattus rattus - R. rattus has directly caused or contributed to the extinction of many species of wildlife including birds, small mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and plants, especially on islands. The primary economic impact of R. rattus relates to agricultural and horticultural damage. It is capable of destroying up to 30% of crops annually. Phylogenetic restructuring of the ‘Rattus rattus complex’ (comprising the oceanic and Asian groups) is on-going. Based on molecular evidence, there are multiple species within what has historically been identified as Rattus rattus.

Leonurus japonicus - L. japonicus is a highly invasive weed widely naturalized in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. It commonly grows as a weed in waste places, disturbed sites and along roadsides and as an ornamental in gardens and yards. L. japonicus also invades pastures and arable land as well as coastal and dry forests. In a recent work, Xiong, et al. (2013) described the chemical composition and the antibacterial activity of essential oils from different parts of L. japonicus. These essential oils showed antibacterial activity against various Gram-positive bacteria.

Other invasive species datasheets recently published include…

Chamaecrista nictitans

Medicago polymorpha

Pantherophis guttatus

Amphisbaena fuliginosa

Datura ferox

Schilbe mystus

Protopterus aethiopicus

Horizon Scanning for Invasive Species

In this, the era of globalisation, increases in international trade, transport and travel have driven an upsurge in the diversity and volume of non-native species introductions to new areas worldwide. Introduced plant, animal and pathogen species may fail to establish in a new range, and where they do establish, may be environmentally benign. However, there is potential for introduced non-native species to become invasive, even after a (sometimes extensive) period of time without apparent negative impacts.

Preventing the introduction and establishment of a species considered to be an invasion risk is key to mitigating its potential impacts in a new area. For this to be done effectively, it is vitally important that countries conduct horizon scanning initiatives to determine the non-native species likely to arrive, to evaluate the threat posed should the organism become established, to determine by which pathway(s) the organism may be introduced and where appropriate, to convey to the competent authority the requirement for rapid response strategies to alert list species. The recent European Union (EU) draft regulation which aims to legislate for the control of invasive non-native species in the EU is likely to be focused on a list of priority non-native species. A significant number of the species on this list are likely to be alert species not yet present in the region, but which will be determined as threats through the horizon scanning and prioritisation process. The outcomes of this horizon scanning process are likely to be of great interest and importance to various concerned parties across the European continent and beyond, and will certainly be subject to close scrutiny.

Horizon -  Norma Desmond, Flickr

Are invasive species on the horizon?
Photo: Norma Desmond, Flickr

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Originally posted on The Plantwise Blog:

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)

A species of whitefly that transmits cassava mosaic virus has been detected in South Africa for the first time. The whitefly, Bemisia tabaci is a cryptic species complex containing some important agricultural pests and virus vectors. The term ‘cryptic species complex’ means that Bemisia tabaci is considered to be a complex of at least 24 different species that look almost identical but are in fact genetically different.  Researchers from a range of organisations including the University of Johannesburg, the University of Witwatersrand and ARC-Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute conducted surveys to investigate the diversity and distribution of Bemisia tabaci species in 8 provinces in South Africa. The study aimed to update the information regarding the different Bemisia tabaci types present in the country.

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Originally posted on The Plantwise Blog:

Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.

Researchers are working towards developing a cost effective solution to controlling  Ash Dieback fungal disease, a major threat to 80 million ash trees in the UK. As part of the plan to tackle Ash Dieback and other invasive pests and diseases, the government has formulated a team of ten internationally recognised experts in plant health, forestry and wider related disciplines as part of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Taskforce. The taskforce includes three entomologists, Professor Charles Godfray from Oxford University, Professor Simon Leather from Harper Adams University College and Professor John Mumford from Imperial College as well as a number of social and environmental scientists.

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3D modelling: Not just for Hollywood, now for invasive species

An easily overlooked but vitally important component of invasive species management is accurate identification. Picture the scene: It’s Australia, it’s a Friday afternoon, a comprehensive fire ant management strategy has been drawn up, baits have been acquisitioned and an eager team of volunteers is ready to deal with this invasive foe and escape for the weekend. There are plenty of ants around… but nobody knows if they’ve found the right ones because the pesky little critters all look so similar! Scientists in Australia believe they have a solution – a database of 3D images of known species against which 2D photographs of organisms taken and uploaded in the field are compared, giving an estimate of their likely invasive or native status.

Fire Ant - Leo Blanchette

3D Ant – by Leo Blanchette, flickr

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Evolution of "Super-Invasive" Cane Toads

The cane toad (Rhinella marina) has become invasive in much of its introduced range, impacting significantly on biodiversity in these regions. Not only does the cane toad prey upon and compete with native species, it also produces a potent toxin that can be deadly to would-be predators. Nowhere is the impact of the cane toad more apparent than in Australia and a recent study indicates that edge-of-range populations there are evolving to become even better invaders.

Cane Toad
Cane toads in Australia (image courtesy of WAtoday.com.au)

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Argentine Ant Invasion Meets Resistance from Natives

The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), from humble beginnings in South America, is now invasive on every continent and has a place on the list of 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. Transported around the world via human activity, this omnivorous ant impacts upon native flora and fauna and has been incredibly successful in outcompeting and displacing native ants. A recent study indicates, however, that at least one species may be ready to make a stand against the onslaught of the Argentine ant.

An Argentine ant queen and worker (Source: Alex Wild)
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Are we fuelling future invasions?

The world is fast running out of fossil fuels and with an energy crisis looming, intensive research is being carried out across the globe to find renewable alternatives. Top of the list are biofuels; fuels derived from biomass. Will the plants grown to provide this biomass behave themselves when introduced to sites outside their native range, or escape cultivation and invade the regions to which they are introduced?

Arundo donaxGiant reed, Arundo donax (credited to Steve Loya and sourced from the Lompoc Record)

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The invasive rinderpest virus is no more

For only the second time in history scientists have succeeded in eradicating a viral infectious disease. The first was over 30 years ago, when in 1979 scientists from the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that smallpox (Variola vera), an infectious human disease that had claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people, was officially no longer an epidemic of human concern. Yesterday, Scientists from the UN reported rinderpest virus (RPV), an infectious virus causing cattle plague had been eradicated from the areas of the last known outbreaks.

Cow nose close-up
Picture courtesy of Publicenergy

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