Friday, April 13, 2007

The Global Invasive Species Program & The Nature Conservancy

  • The GISP mission is to conserve biodiversity and sustain human livelihoods by minimizing the spread and impact of invasive alien species.
  • The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. One main focus area is on invasive species and here TNC strives toward abating the threat to biodiversity from invasive non-native species.
  • Thank you Cris, (Country Patch, Brasil) for providing the links to GISP and TNC.

Invasive Plants: Dog-strangling Vine (a.k.a. Pale Swallowwort)

It may sound like something out of a bad horror movie, but if you live in Ontario,
dog-strangling vine could be coming to a field or ravine near you.
The vine, whose scientific name is vincetoxicum rossicum, has invaded much of Ontario.
Biologists in Ontario predict a new woodland weed could cause more strife to wildlife than purple loosestrife. (Lythrum salicaria)
The two-metre-high plant called dog-strangling vine is nearly invincible.
Otherwise known as pale swallowwort, it has the ability to choke off woodlands and marshes.

The weed has invaded our Rouge Park, Sylvan Park in Guildwood,

our Scarborough Bluffs and Ravines.

Normally, gardeners fight an invasive plant by cutting it back and covering it with mulch.

But the highly prolific vine defends itself by producing thousands of tiny air-borne seeds.
The vine is related to the milkweed plant.
It has become resistant to traditional pesticides.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Invasive Plants: America's Most NOT Wanted

Invasive Plants: America's Most NOT Wanted
While weeds and pests in the garden can be frustrating and time consuming to control, in nature invasive species can wreak absolute havoc.
By definition, an "invasive" species is a nonnative plant, animal or other organism that, once introduced into a new environment, outcompetes native species for habitat and food. Although not all exotic species are invasive, those that are can cause tremendous problems.
Particularly troubling is the fact that a number of nonnative plants that people have brought into their gardens as ornamentals (such as those listed below) have turned out to be some of the most damaging species when introduced into natural habitats. With global warming, many of these species are expected to gain even more of a foothold.
Do your part by pulling up invasive plants and replacing them with native species...

Pictures from National Wildlife Federation gardeners guide.

National Wildlife Federation []

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

UK and Netherlands, wild bees and flowers declining

The longhorn bee, Eucera nigrescens, shown on a clover flower, is declining.
(Nico Vereecken/University of Leeds)

The Andrena hattorfiana bee raises its young exclusively on pollen from field scabious.
Both the plant and the bee are disappearing.
(Courtesy Gerard Minet/University of Leeds)

Wild bees and flowers both declining, survey finds

The diversity of bees and the flowers they pollinate have both declined significantly in Britain and the Netherlands over the last 25 years, researchers have found.
"We were shocked by the decline in plants as well as bees," the study's lead author, Koos Biesmeijer of the University of Leeds, said in a statement.

If this pattern is replicated elsewhere, the 'pollinator services' we take for granted could be at risk. And with it the future for the plants we enjoy in our countryside."
The pollinators are essential for the reproduction of many wild flowers and crops.
While previous studies looked at only a few sites, Biesmeijer's team of professionals and volunteers compared records for hundreds of sites from before and after 1980.
Particular bees for particular flowers
Loss of bee diversity might not be a problem if a single species of bee could pollinate every flower species, but that's not the case, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Overall, generalist pollinators are replacing a larger number of rarer, specialist pollinators.
"In Britain, pollinator species that were relatively rare in the past have tended to become rarer still, while the commoner species have become even more plentiful," said Stuart Roberts of the University of Reading.
"Even in insects, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
The scientists don't know if it's the bees or flowers that are disappearing first, but the declines parallel each other.
In Britain, there were declines in 70 per cent of the wildflowers that need insects for pollination, while wind-pollinated or self-pollinated plants stayed the same or increased.
The Netherlands showed a decline in plants that require bees for pollination, but not plants that can turn to other insect pollinators.
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Monday, April 9, 2007

Bee decline may spell end of some fruits and vegetables

A mysterious decimation of bee populations has German beekeepers worried, while a similar phenomenon in the United States is gradually assuming catastrophic proportions. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Mystery Bee Disappearances Sweeping U.S.
Stefan Lovgren in Los Angeles
for National Geographic News

February 23, 2007

Without a trace, something is causing bees to vanish by the thousands.
But a new task force hopes to finger the culprit and save the valuable crops that rely on the insects.
Pennsylvania beekeeper Dave Hackenberg was the first beekeeper to report to bee researchers what's become known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).
In October Hackenberg had delivered honeybees to a Florida farm to pollinate crops.
The bees typically return to their boxed hives when their work is done.
But this time was different.
"I came to pick up 400 bee colonies and the bees had just flat-out disappeared," Hackenberg said.
"There were no dead bees, no bees on the ground, just empty boxes."
"In almost 50 years as a beekeeper, I've never seen anything like it."
CCD has spread throughout 24 states and ruined hundreds of thousands of bee colonies.
Hackenberg has lost roughly 1,900 of his 2,900 hives.
Other operators have lost up to 90 percent of their hives.
Researchers are scrambling to find answers to what is causing the commercially important honeybees to abandon their hives and disappear.
The epidemic could put a strain on fruit growers and other farmers who rely on the insects to pollinate their crops.
An estimated 14 billion U.S. dollars in agricultural crops in the United States are dependent on bee pollination.
"A lot of people think honeybees are only important for the honey they produce," entomologist Maryann Frazier said.
"But much, much more important are their pollination services."

  • In Florida, beekeepers say citrus growers are compounding the problem by spraying pesticides to kill off a fruit-tree pest known as greening disease.
  • The pesticides likely wipe out bees at the same time.

All Eyes on California The task force is now conducting chemical and genetic analysis of hives hit by CCD. "We have to find out where and when this has happened, how the bees were managed, and what difference, if any, there is between beekeepers with the problem and beekeepers who have not experienced the disorder," said Bromenshenk of Bee Alert Technology.

Researchers are closely watching what is happening to bee colonies currently pollinating California's 1.4-billion-dollar almond crop.

  • Almonds are 100 percent dependent on bee pollination.

Already some beekeepers have reportedly seen their colonies in California collapse during the almond pollination.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania beekeeper Hackenberg is working on replacing the bees he has lost. He was on his way to Miami, Florida, to receive a shipment of almost six million bees imported from Australia.

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Mysteriöses Bienensterben in Nordamerika

Albert Einstein sagte schon:
"Wenn die Biene von der Erde verschwindet, dann hat der Mensch nur noch 4 Jahre zu leben; keine Bienen mehr, keine Bestäubung mehr, keine Pflanzen mehr, keine Tiere mehr, keine Menschen mehr..."
Deutsche Imker klagen über ein geheimnisvolles Bienensterben - in den USA wächst sich ein ähnliches Phänomen schon zur Katastrophe aus.
  • Ein mysteriöses Bienensterben beunruhigt Imker und Wissenschaftler in den USA.
    Viele Millionen der Tiere verschwinden und sterben kurze Zeit später.
    Fassungslose Imker finden zu Beginn des Frühlings leere Bienenstöcke vor.
    Was die Tiere dahinrafft, ist völlig unklar.
    Einem Bericht der "Süddeutschen Zeitung" zufolge sind an der amerikanischen Westküste fast 80 Prozent der Bienenvölker kollabiert.
    An der Ostküste und in Texas sind es fast ebenso viele.
    Es könnte sich um eine mysteriöse Krankheit handeln.
    Doch möglicherweise sind es einfach Umwelteinflüsse, die die Bienen anfällig machen:
    Immer mehr weniger unberührte Natur, immer weniger wild wuchernde Hecken und Wiesen.
    Immer mehr Pestizide.
    Immer mehr Krankheiten, die aus andern Erdteilen eingeschleppt werden, weil Bienen heute in alle Welt verschickt werden.
    Das Problem:

    Die Bienen sterben außerhalb des Bienenstocks.
    Die toten Tiere zu untersuchen ist deshalb äußerst schwierig.
    Sollte das Bienensterben anhalten, wären die Folgen dramatisch.
    Ein Mangel an Honig wäre das kleinste Problem.
    Denn die Bienen spielen in der Nahrungskette eine entscheidende Rolle.
    Etwa ein Drittel der Nahrung des Menschen ist direkt oder indirekt von den Insekten abhängig.
    Für die Bestäubung von Obstbäumen gibt es keine praktikable Alternative zur Arbeit der Bienen.
    In den USA ist es für Imker zu einem einträglichen Geschäft geworden, mit ihren Bienenvölkern von Plantage zu Plantage zu reisen, damit die Insekten die Obstbäume und andere Pflanzen bestäuben.
    Nun sind diese Imker in ihrer Existenz bedroht.
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Sunday, April 8, 2007