New in April 2014 from the ISC

In April 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

Thunbergia alata (black eyed Susan) – Australia, Brazil, Central America and many Pacific islands are all threatened by this aggressive herbaceous vine. Once introduced into a suitable climate, often as an ornamental, it quickly establishes and spreads both sexually and vegetatively. T. alata is capable of smothering native vegetation, killing host trees, out-competing understory plants and negatively affecting the germination and establishment of native plants.

Thunbergia alata Invasive Species Compendium datasheet

Thunbergia alata Invasive Species Compendium datasheet

Indigofera hirsuta (hairy indigo) – native to Africa, Asia and Australia, this herbaceous legume has been widely introduced as a crop and forage plant. Its ability to adapt to a wide range of soil types, spread quickly and regenerate – even in burnt-out ground – has led it become invasive in many Pacific islands. It is also considered a weed in China, Brazil and parts of the USA.

Urochloa mutica (para grass) – U. mutica has been widely introduced to tropical and subtropical regions as a fodder grass. This species’ aggressive growth, high productivity and allelopathic abilities have allowed it to become one of the worst weeds in the USA, Mexico, Central America and Australia.

 

Other invasive species datasheets recently published include:

Allamanda cathartica (yellow allamanda)

Emilia fosbergii (Florida tassel-flower)

Zingiber zerumbet (shampoo ginger)

Nelsonia canescens (blue pussyleaf)

New in March 2014 from the ISC

In March 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

Bothriochloa pertusa (pitted beard grass) - B. pertusa is a perennial grass native to eastern and southern Asia. It has been widely introduced in the Americas, Australia and the Pacific, either accidentally or probably in some cases deliberately for use as a forage grass. It has established itself in many native habitats where it is able to out-compete many native species due to its ability to establish dense mats and shade out slower establishing species.

Bothriochloa pertusa Invasive Species Compendium datasheet

Bothriochloa pertusa Invasive Species Compendium datasheet

 

Portunus segnis (blue swimming crab) – P. segnis is a marine nocturnal crab native to the western Indian Ocean. It is now considered established in the Mediterranean but invasive in the east and potentially invasive in the central and western Mediterranean. It is an active predator, tolerant to a wide range of temperatures and salinities and capable of reproducing throughout the year, with long-lived planktonic larval stages. Global warming is also expected to favour this tropical species.

Xanthium spinosum (bathurst burr) – X. spinosum is a highly invasive plant classified as one of the world’s worst weeds. It is now widely distributed throughout many regions of the world, where it is a common agricultural and pasture weed and a declared noxious species in many countries. Originating in South America, it has spread widely, probably via its spiked seeds which attach to animals and clothing or are a contaminant of hay or other products. It produces prolific amounts of seed that germinate easily. X. spinosum can quickly dominate large areas, outcompeting crops, forage plants and native flora. Control is possible but requires significant effort. There is considerable ongoing research into various methods including biological control.

 

Other invasive species datasheets recently published include:

Anredera cordifolia (Madeira vine)

Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)

Opuntia monocantha (common prickly pear)

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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Lakes poisoned to halt topmouth gudgeon invasion

Several lakes in Hampshire are being poisoned in a bid to control topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva), an invasive non-native fish first introduced to Britain in the 1980s which has become more widespread in recent years.

Topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva)

Topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva)
(Photo credit: Melania, Wikimedia Commons)

The fish, native to Asia, has spread across much of Europe in recent decades, travelling along waterways and facilitated by illegal fish stocking. Its impacts are significant and include predation on native and farmed fish eggs, resource competition and the ability to host and transmit the rosette agent (Sphaerothecum destruens), a fish parasite that is particularly devastating to Salmonid species such as trout and salmon

The piscicide, Rotenone, is to be applied to the lakes following the removal of native fish in an effort to eradicate topmouth gudgeon whilst limiting non-target impacts. The method has been used by the Environment Agency at a number of sites over the last decade as part of a wider strategy to eradicate topmouth gudgeon from England and Wales. Rotenone breaks down over several weeks, after which the site can be re-stocked with native and/or farmed fish species. Whilst the intervention is fairly drastic, it is considered necessary to prevent the further spread of topmouth gudgeon and limit its likely environmental and economic impacts.

Find out more about the topmouth gudgeon and hundreds of other invasive species at CABI’s open access Invasive Species Compendium.


Dr Paul Fisher
Communications Manager, CABI

The urgent need for evidence based policy in invasive species management

Hundreds of invasive species experts gathered last week, 23-27 October, in Qingdao China at the 2nd International Congress on Biological Invasions. High on the agenda was how policy makers can respond to the accelerating risk posed by invasive species as international trade increases and climate change opens up new opportunities for invasion.

Prof. Daniel Simberloff speaking at the ICBI plenary session

Prof. Daniel Simberloff speaking at the ICBI plenary session (Photo Credit: CABI)

In a session chaired by Prof. Daniel Simberloff on ‘Approaches in the International Policy Arena’, CABI was given the key note speaker position to showcase the contribution that systematic reviews can make in converting scientific evidence into practical evidence-based policy.

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Weevil fight them on the waterbodies

Introduced to Britain in the 1980s through the aquatic trade Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, commonly known as floating pennywort, is rapidly spreading through Europe and particularly in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Originating in Central and South America, this stoloniferous perennial plant is forming dense, impenetrable mats which rapidly dominate water bodies, outcompeting and displacing native species and compromising flood defences, navigation and leisure activities.  Despite its relatively recent introduction, establishment and spread have been exponential thanks largely to its extremely fast growth rate (up to 20cm per day) and its ability to re-generate from small fragments. In 2010, floating pennywort was added to section 14, schedule 9 of the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  A recent report estimates its cost to Great Britain’s economy as £25.5 million each year through management, disposal, flooding and indirect costs to boating and angling.  News that from 2014 the sale of this plant will be banned is significant and welcomed.

Left - A sheep in a UK river clogged with Hydrocotyle (Credit: Trevor Renals); Right - Distribution map of floating pennywort invasion (Credit: DAISIE)

Left – A sheep in a UK river clogged with Hydrocotyle (Credit: Trevor Renals, Environment Agency)
Right – Distribution map of floating pennywort invasion (Credit: DAISIE)

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CABI welcomes EU action against invasive species

Water fern (Azolla filiculoides) covering a UK pond. Corin Pratt, CABI

Water fern (Azolla filiculoides) covering a UK pond. Corin Pratt, CABI

CABI welcomes action that the EU has recently taken (September 9, 2013) to protect member states against the adverse impacts of Invasive Alien Species (IAS).  The draft Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of IAS will help to coordinate management and preventative measures across the whole of the EU, leading to what will effectively be a joint battle against IAS – a problem that costs the EU at least 12 billion Euros each year.

CABI’s initial views on four key areas are summarised below:

A list of invasive alien species of Union concern

Identifying invasive species of European concern is at the core of this Regulation and we are pleased to see that lists of these species will be compiled based on scientific evidence.  However, impact evidence, in the form of scientifically replicated studies, is currently lacking for many IAS across the EU. The lack of such data will inevitably have an impact on the strength of risk assessments for individual species.

Inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread

CABI is pleased to see that the draft Regulation highlights the valuable work that has been and continues to be conducted throughout EU member states, and welcomes the consultations to the draft Regulation, including all the steps needed to implement it. The inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread – is particularly welcomed, as these species are often overlooked due to the networks, resources and time needed to address them on an EU-wide scale.

Inclusion of all management methods, including biocontrol

CABI also welcomes the inclusion of all management methods into the Regulation (physical, chemical and biological actions), as the control and management of some of the more widespread EU weed species can only realistically be achieved using integrated pest management options, in particular classical biological control. Biological control also plays play an important role in protecting aquatic and riparian habitats, and so helps meet requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive as chemical and mechanical control options are often impractical or prohibitively expensive or taboo in such cases.

Inclusion of habitat restoration post control

It is encouraging  to see the inclusion of habitat restoration post control, though it will be difficult to implement from a practical point of view due to cost and the highly disturbed nature of many of the habitats invaded by IAS.

Dr Dick Shaw, CABI’s Global Director of Invasive Species Management says:

“It’s great to see this initiative come so far and that Member States may soon have to do something about invasive species that can and do wreak havoc to biodiversity and their environments.  There will be a lot of horse trading to come but I believe the will is there to make a change in the face of such a major and cross-cutting threat.”

The advance of the Asian hornet creates a buzz in the UK media

Some of the species that are included in our open-access Invasive Species Compendium are well known to the general public, for example Japanese Knotweed. Others are more obscure, and I had never heard of the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, until I edited the datasheet about it earlier this year. I was therefore interested to hear an item about it a few days ago on the Today programme, one of the best-known programmes on BBC radio (you can listen to the item here).

Picture: ©Muséum de Toulouse/Didier Descouens-2013. CC BY-SA 3.0

The species originates from eastern Asia and was accidentally introduced to southern France about 10 years ago in a consignment of terracotta pots from China. It spread rapidly through France, soon reaching the stage where eradication was impossible, and into neighbouring countries. As it is a predator of honey bees, it is of serious concern to the beekeeping industry (where it is native, bees have some ability to kill hornets by surrounding them with a ball of bees and heating them to death, but European bees are much less effective at this). It can sting people badly too, although European populations are generally not very aggressive.

It is considered very likely that V. velutina will spread to the UK, either through accidental transport by humans or by flying across the English Channel (see here for a risk assessment). Eradication will only be possible if it is spotted promptly, and long-term management will also require knowledge of where it is present, so the public (especially beekeepers) are being asked by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to look out for it and report any sightings to alert_nonnative@ceh.ac.uk. This request has been picked up by several parts of the UK media, including the Independent, the Daily Mail and even the local newspaper here in south Oxfordshire.

An information sheet describing how to recognise the species is available here; August and September are the peak months for V. velutina activity, so if you live in the southern part of the UK, or indeed anywhere else in western Europe, please look out for it!

Mark Palmer
Content Editor
CABI

Invasive species catch a wave

Over two years have now passed since the Tohoku earthquake rent the seafloor 40 miles off the coast of Japan. The 9.03 magnitude quake – the largest in Japan’s history – triggered a staggeringly destructive tsunami which cost the lives of over 15,000 people.

Aside from the human tragedy of the disaster, the tsunami has had another, quite unexpected, effect: the transport of invasive species across the globe.  Plants and animals from the north-west Pacific are now washing up over 8000 miles away on North American beaches, sparking fears that a wave of ecological invasions could be threatening coastal environments the length of the continent.

How have these organisms managed to travel so far? Such was the force of the tsunami as it tore into docks, boats and buildings on the Japanese coast that an estimated 1.5 million tons of debris was washed out to sea. This was not just the usual plastic waste that pollutes the Pacific Ocean; individual blocks of steel and concrete weighing over 100 tons have been sighted drifting off the coast of Hawaii and North America. Flotsam this large provides a substrate for sedentary coastal life and can shield species from the worst of oceanic conditions. Individual species regularly make similar transits attached to the hulls of boats.

However, what has surprised ecologists in this instance is the number of species that are washing up after 15 months adrift. Whilst whole communities are not turning up on American shores – larger and more mobile animals in particular have long since been washed away – species are certainly arriving en masse in North America. For example, a pier from Misawa port in Japan was harbouring over 100 species when it beached in Oregon in June 2012.

A 66' long concrete dock in Oregon USA, debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan

A pier from Misawa port, covered in non-native kelp, that washed up in Oregon in June 2012.
Source: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

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