The Billion Dollar Problem of Aquatic Invasive Species
Fall 2010 SW3: Water Hyacinth and Biocontrol
Due Mon Sept. 13 before midnight to the WordPress blog
The purpose of this short writing project is to introduce you to reading, analyzing, and writing about scholarly scientific literature. In the “Invaders” episode of the documentary series “Strange Days on Planet Earth” we were introduced to the Lake Victoria water hyacinth problem. Keep in mind that this episode originally aired in April 2005. Since then, several peer-reviewed, scientific articles have been published on this issue including a short communication by Wilson et al. (2007) and a reply to that communication by Williams et al. (2007). These articles, both published in the journal Aquatic Botany, are two of the most recent scholarly papers on the Lake Victoria water hyacinth invasion. While these papers were in press, however, the water hyacinth invasion returned (NASA Earth Observatory 2007).
For this assignment, carefully read both Aquatic Botany articles, as well as the Earth Observatory web article. Consider the arguments for and against the efficacy of water hyacinth biocontrol in Lake Victoria. Then, please write a 400 word (maximum) commentary on water hyacinth in Lake Victoria and the roles of biocontrol and other factors (e.g., El Niño). In your commentary, first explain the biocontrol debate, including a brief description of the evidence used by each side to support their assertion (once again, keep in mind that the scholarly articles were written before the water hyacinth returned). Then, begin to bring your voice into the commentary: do Wilson et al. (2007) or Williams et al. (2007) provide a more convincing story with the data? In light of MODIS satellite images, what can be said about biocontrol of water hyacinth in particular or biocontrol in general?
The targeted readership for this commentary should be a broad audience interested in scientific issues (for example, pretend that this brief commentary will appear in Scientific American). Aim for a style and tone similar to those used in the Aquatic Botany articles (Williams et al. 2007, Wilson et al. 2007). It is appropriate to use the first person; however, reserve first person use for near the end of the commentary. Think of it as if you need to “earn the privilege” of using the first person by first carefully describing the issue so that your reader takes you seriously and considers you knowledgeable. Please reference the three sources throughout your commentary in the same way I have referenced them here in this assignment prompt. Lastly, please comment on a peer’s post to receive full credit.
NASA Earth Observatory. 2007. Water Hyacinth Re-invades Lake Victoria. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=7426. Viewed 20 Jan 2010.
Williams, A. E., R. E. Hecky, and H. C. Duthie. 2007. Water hyacinth decline across Lake Victoria – Was it caused by climatic perturbation or biological control? A reply. Aquatic Botany 87:94-96.
Wilson, J. R. U., O. Ajuonu, T. D. Center, M. P. Hill, M. H. Julien, F. F. Katagira, P. Neuenschwander, S. W. Njoka, J. Ogwang, R. H. Reeder, and T. Van. 2007. The decline of water hyacinth on Lake Victoria was due to biological control by Neochetina spp. Aquatic Botany 87:90-93.