Review Panel: Steven Blaser, Max Castillo, Cole Arora, Joshua McGrath.
Proposal (I): Zhou, Mo. 2010. “Comprehensive Prediction on Asian Carp Invasion: A Pre-Proposal.”
Proposal (I) (Zhou) sought to implement a trans-continental analysis concerning the vulnerability of rivers and waterways to invasion by Asian carp. The motivation behind the study is to assist in Asian carp invasion prediction, which would in turn more readily allow for prevention and detection programs. Water systems surveys and data collection will not be conducted in situ, but rather, current literature, local information and the opinions and findings of current experts in the field will be compiled and reviewed by the author and collaborators. The overarching, apparent goal is to form a comprehensive, preliminary risk assessment that can be updated as necessary as more information is gleaned.
Proposal (II): Starnes, Abby. 2010. “Invasive Bullfrog Transmission of Chytrid Fungus to Red-Legged Frogs.”
Proposal (II) (Starnes) focuses on the important role that chytrid fungus plays in the invasion mechanism of bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). The author makes the hypothesis that, because transmission of the fungus from bullfrogs to other anuran species has been well-documented, the possibility for that event to occur between bullfrogs and a specific native species – red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) is a logical research question. Testing this hypothesis involves exposure of healthy red-legged frogs to bullfrogs of varying condition (e.g. infected, not infected) and observing the transmittance of the pathogen. The hope of the study is to illuminate a potential cause of damage that bullfrogs initiate as a result of invasion, and to then concentrate on alleviating that damage source, rather than on widespread eradication of the species.
Proposal (III): Tully, Daniel. 2010. “The Effects of the Poison Rotenone on Rivers when used to Eradicate an Invasive Species.”
Proposal (III) (Tully) explores the possibility of applying poison – specifically, rotenone – to rivers as a means to eradicate invasive northern snakehead (Channa argus). The author references that a major disincentive from using the poison previously had been the fact that it incurs mortality both in the invasive species as well as the native species. He introduces the idea of combining the extremely effective rotenone with a decomposition catalyst, potassium permanganate, in order to reduce the long-term effects of lingering rotenone in river systems. The proposed study involves extensive pre-test initiatives, including such things as removal of a control group of several thousand fish via electrofishing to be reintroduced later on, a week-long application of rotenone, followed by a five-year-long observation period on the effects of rotenone application (with the potassium permanganate compound) in the long term.
Proposal (IV): Arcia-Ramos, Jania. 2010. “Public Awareness of Mute Swans is Key to Legislation Support.”
Proposal (IV) (Arcia-Ramos) revolves around different approaches that could be taken to recruit public support for control of invasive species, specifically the mute swan (Cygnus olor). The author cites the lack of public support for invasion control as a main reason why roadblocks to stricter control exist in the political arena. In fact, the author claims that a public that is generally opposed to eradication of an invasive species can actually assist the further establishment of that species (through misinformed advocacy). Thus, a major component of the study is to test the effectiveness of different approaches for providing invasive species education to the general public. Pre- and post-test surveys will establish baseline comparison with results, and individual tests involve pamphlet distribution and publishing articles in media. Treatments differ in terms of the frequency of distribution or publication.
The panel recommends funding to be directed towards the proposal of Starnes. The impetus behind her planned experiment is well-conceived; the methodology of the planned tests (the experimental design) is logical, comprehensive, and testable; and the study in general is not only novel but applicable to anuran-bullfrog interactions in general. Thorough background research was conducted concerning the pathogen, and we feel confident that her study will generate statistically significant results. Moreover she also demonstrates proper perspective, in that identification of pathogen transmittance could help concentrate control efforts – the pathogen could serve as a focal point to unify control approaches. Small issues found with the proposal involve the substitution of pertinent information (specifically, how test bullfrogs will be infected with the pathogen) with an unelaborated-upon reference to the work of another scientist, though the missing information does not detract from the general goal of the study.
We also, as a panel, recommend the revision and re-submission of the proposal of Zhou. We agree that a unification of data concerning the proliferation capacity of Asian carp is needed, and legislative efforts to combat the species’ expansion would be facilitated, the proposal – involving only a collection of current primary literature – would still be bounded to the realm of scientific literature, and be of use only to other scientists and resource managers. That is, in order to increase political awareness of Asian carp invasion, perhaps what would be of greater general utility is a translation of the current scientific knowledge on the carp species in terms that policy-makers and legislators can understand. Presentation of the findings to congress and in hearings at the state and local levels would have a much larger reach, than would publication of a literary review.
The major fault holding back our decision to fund the proposal of Arcia-Ramos – an otherwise exemplary effort to quantify the invasive species information processing of the public – was the high sensitivity of her study to bias as a result of subjective sampling measures. Because the author – highly motivated to persuade the public in favor of invasive species control – has a personal stake in the experiment, the very language used to write the pre- and post-experiment surveys could slant any findings and render the baseline data collected from them questionable. A way to correct for this could be to hire a third party to actually draft the surveys; in this way objectivity might be attained. But even working under the assumption that the exact reflection of public opinion is attained through the surveys, another problem exists. The author explicitly states that the test mediums are being directed toward an audience that “feel more strongly about the issue” compared to others lacking exposure to mute swans. Thus, only those citizens who actually want to observe the mute swans (because of their beauty, say) would be present at the sites where the pamphlets supporting their eradication are being distributed; in other words, the pamphlets advocating for removal of mute swans are given to those who are the most opposed to the information presented to them. Lastly, publication of stories in media, while it would certainly have an encompassing effect due to the medium’s omnipresence, is not feasible. Specifically, local public media actually have to want to publish or broadcast the work. There is no incentive for them to put forth ideas that go against the general grain of public consensus. As a result, the only alternative would be publication in the form of scientific papers, which the general public do not normally read. Revision of distribution mechanisms of the information could be a potential solution to the problem.
Similarly, Tully’s proposal is well-presented and well-conceived, but there exist inherent discrepancies that cause us to favor the proposal of Starnes. Beginning with an anecdote, the overage of the current status on rotenone and control of invasive northern snakehead was quite strong. However, the novel aspect of the study – combining rotenone with potassium permanganate – was presented without any citation, indicating that the idea of the compound’s efficacy came from the knowledge and past experience of the author; its use as a catalyst for the decomposition of rotenone must be firmly established in order to assuage our fears that the permanganate will do its job. Second, the logistical ramifications of the five-year study are astronomical, and thus we fear for the experiment’s testability. Even using a barge equipped with electrofishing equipment, the removal of several thousand fish is not an inexpensive undertaking – much less the daily electrofishing during the sampling time and the twice-daily water testing throughout the entire experiment. Because no particular reason for the five-year study is given, we recommend shortening the duration of the study. Thirdly, and most contributory to our decision to decline grant funding, is a flaw in the experimental design. As written, the author plans to apply rotenone poison for a week; subsequently, if a water test indicates lingering rotenone, the potassium permanganate will then be added to break it down completely. This came across as an afterthought – if the amount of time that the northern snakehead were exposed to the rotenone before the permanganate application was sufficient to kill them, it would also be sufficient to kill all other natives (unless snakehead are affected to a greater extent, which was not specified). In this way, the permanganate serves no purpose, and actually does not play a role in the experiment in the short-term. Only in long-term observation of how the fish that were removed fare in the ecosystem can the effects of potassium permanganate actually be used (but by then it is too late for the natives that were not removed). The rub of the problem is that, if rotenone and permanganate were to be simultaneously added, the latter would decrease the effectiveness of the former, and in all likelihood 100 % eradication would not be achieved. Revision of experimental design is necessary before approval can be given.
Larson’s argument claims that the argumentative structure presented in many of today’s scientific journals and popular news editorials portray Aquatic Invasive Species as a enemy, pitting us against them in a war. However, Larson feels that this should not be the case. Instead of presenting these species as invaders that we must conquer and defeat (like in war), we should view them as a problem that humans caused that can coexist. In addition, extinction may not be a solution anymore as they are so established that interbreeding has occurred and removal may cause more problems than it helps. Overall, Larson disagrees with the current rhetoric used to “combat” the problems associated with Aquatic Invasive Species and feels that we should be using more mild language to create the ability to more accurately portray and discuss the current problems. I use combative language in my own post about the water chestnut: “Trapa Natans poses a significant threat to the overall ecological health of not just New York State, but the United States. Since the only conceivable way of eliminating its presence involves large sums of money invested in chemical and mechanical warfare, Trapa Natans has easily spread to almost ten states on the East Coast. The words “warfare”, ‘threat”, and “eliminating” definitely create a militaristic atmosphere” (Blaser 2010). I do not agree that such militaristic metaphors are ineffective when dealing with Aquatic Invasive Species. I feel that Larson’s problem stems less from the language involved and more from the general way that we handle the situation. He disagrees with current methods of eradication and even feels that many species should not be considered invaders anymore, such as we don’t consider the Asian population in San Francisco as invaders anymore. In addition, by placing part of removal under the Department of Homeland Security, we are inaccurately portraying this problem in a way inappropriate to how the problem should be solved. Again, I feel that this may not be necessarily true. By claiming that we should be dealing with each species on an individual basis, he should not be saying that combative language must not be used. In some cases, such as potentially with the lionfish (Pterois volitans) or Asian Carp, fighting them may be the only chance for survival for many other species. While people have come in and contributed their unique identities to the overall population of America, their continued existence did not come at the cost of them eating other humans to guarantee their own survival. They did not massacre the population of San Francisco and they did not affect the overall ecology of an entire ecosystem. In terms of the division coming under the heading of the Department of Homeland Security, it is doubtful it had as much to do with combative language in scientific journals the president read as much as budget restraints, stemming either from the war or Republican philosophy to merge departments. While I agree with Larson’s point that violence with these species is not always the answer, I think this should lead to general discussions about the topic, not an argument that incessantly bashes people using combative language in their stories, language that is only used to peak interest and create a buzz about the topic.
Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.
The Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) is a Pacific invasive species causing devastating damages to the delicate Hawaiian ecosystems and the infrastructure for power supply, as well as harmful health risks to the islanders. The Brown Tree Snake (BTS) and its prevention and control in Hawaii is the topic of author Kimberly M. Burnett and colleagues’ research, funded by a USDA/ERS grant. Burnett, from the University of Puget Sound, developed a general model based on Guam’s BTS infestation that can be used to determine if prevention or control strategies would be most cost effective to keep the snake’s numbers low. Taking into account how the most advantageous expenditure paths change due to a motley of ecological factors, Burnett and her colleagues determined that it is more cost effective to find and eliminate the existing populations of snakes in Hawaii, rather than endeavor to entirely prevent its introductions to the island.
Ecological Economics 67: 66-74 (2008).
North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30:230–237, 2010
After release, eggs of silver carp absorb water and increase substantially in size. Previous research suggest that silver carp eggs may grow larger in soft waters. A research led by Jeff J. Rach et al. at U.S. Geological Survey attempted to find out whether water hardness affects the hatching success rate of silver carp eggs, and therefore determine whether this factor could limit carp distribution. The research group placed newly fertilized silver carp eggs in water at five water hardness levels to harden, and placed in either soft or hard water to incubate. The result turned out that soft water caused eggs to grow larger during hardening, but had no effect on the incubation process. Also, a mixture of other biotic and abiotic factors may contribute to the hatching of carp eggs. Therefore, the research suggests that water hardness doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor in the reproduction of silver carp.
Asian carp, as the name suggests, is a species that originated from Asia. They are large and powerful, some of which can jump over barriers as high as 7 feet. These carnivorous fish can consume weeds, planktons and smaller fish up to half of their body weight. Because of their efficiency in cleaning up excessive microorganism in water bodies, fishermen in southern US imported this species from China in the 1970s to clean up their ponds and improve water quality. However, this species entered the Mississippi river during a flood in the 1990s, and went further into the Illinois river and even the Great Lakes. This fierce and merciless species soon began to clear others out of their habitat. In some rivers, Asian carps count for up to 90% of the total fish population. It is obvious that the Asian carp invasion would cause serious ecological disaster in a few years if the situation goes out of control. But the bad news is, Asian carps are so tenacious that they are hard to be killed even with poisons applied. In late 2009, researchers in Illinois deployed poisons in rivers near Lake Michigan in an attempt to kill Asian carps. To their disappointment, they only found one medium-sized dead body of this species, while other victims were all native “American citizens”.
In my opinion, a good way to solve the issue is introducing Asian carp to the food market. In fact, these plump fresh water fish are quite delicious if cooked properly. For instance, Yellow River carp braised with soy sauce is a famous dish in China. However, a fact that keeps most Americans away from carps is that they have so many annoying bones. Therefore, the food industry needs to find an efficient way to “disarm” carps and produce boneless fish product.
But the biggest question goes with the hunting for Asian carp. They are clever enough to avoid most nets and traps, not to mention more inferior fishing gears. Even electric nets set in rivers leading to the Great Lakes didn’t prevent them from traveling north. So people should work on improving fishing methods to facilitate the capture of these fish. Once this problem gets settled, Asian carp would be less of a threat to the ecosystem.
Nutria and Asian Carp are both invasive species that threaten South Carolina water environments. They differ in that Nutria are a current problem in South Carolina, while Asian Carp pose a threat but have not yet entered South Carolina waterways.
Nutria are furry mammals, and are often referred to as “swamp beavers.” They are native to Argentina, but were introduced in the United States in the 1930′s in an attempt to control aquatic weed growth in Louisianna. Unfortunately, Nutria rank high on the food chain- their only common natural predators are alligators and humans. Nutria quickly spread across the nation’s south eastern coastlines and are now present in South Carolina. Since their introduction to South Carolina waters, Nutria have damaged local habitats by consuming marsh grasses, rice, and sugarcane crops. Nutria also burrow tunnels that damage levees, drainage canals and other structures.
It may be too late to eradicate Nutria from South Carolina waterways without major effort, but there is still hope for South Carolina with regards to another invasive species, Asian Carp. Asian Carp are a serious issue in much of the United States. Asian carp were originally brought in as both a food source and to control snail populations in United States waterways. These carp now damage national waters by competing with native species for food and consuming crustaceans and other aquatic species. Luckily, Asian Carp have not yet damaged South Carolina waterways. There are many types of Asian Carp, and when SC officials saw the damage that this species can create, they banned Silver, Big Head, and Black Asian Carp from entering South Carolina borders. Sterile Grass Carp are the only breed of Asian Carp allowed to enter South Carolina, and even then they are closely regulated by the SC Dept. of Natural Resources.
I found it interesting that both the Nutria and the Asian Carp species were introduced into national waterways in an attempt to curb other aquatic invasive species. It reminds me of the story about the old lady who swallowed the spider to catch the fly and etcetera until she had swallowed a horse or something equally ridiculous. I think it must be a difficult thing to predict what kind of implications introducing a new species will have on a habitat because each species interacts with multiple other species and even the nonliving aspects of the environment in complex ways. Therefore I would avoid using nonnative species to control damaging invasive species in an area, unless there was no other logical option.
This article made me question whether or not native species are also damaging to an environment. I feel like if a native species contributed to erosion as the nutria do, for example, it would just be seen as a natural part of the species’ role in the environment. If an area is left alone after a new species is introduced, won’t the new species assimilate into the habitat? I also wonder what percentage of the fish population in South Carolina is nonnative. I didn’t mention these above, but Sunfish are also listed as invasive species in SC, and I remember catching a few of those as a child.
I obtained the information for this information from a SC government pdf addressing invasive species. I primarily referred to pages 15-19.
I located the information for the first three sentences of paragraph two here.
More extensive information about Asian Carp invasion can be found here, especially in the links at the bottom of the page.
Image slides containing information on Nutria invasion can be found here .
A recent article published in the Missourian addressed the issue of the invasive Asian carp and their uncanny ability to spread and completely dominate a river or lake. These fish are damaging native populations of fish because they eat plankton, a common food of all young fish, and are also endangering boaters, fishers, and even water skiers. Asian carp have a tendency to leap out of the water when a boat passes and since they have been known to reach up to 100 pounds in weight, pose a safety hazard to people and equipment alike. They are a big issue in the Kansas and Illinois Rivers, but anglers have been observed taking buckets of them as bait or even attempting to catch them when confusing them for native species. It is illegal to possess, move, or release prohibited species such as the Asian Carp, but a lack of knowledge on the part of the anglers means that this still happens.
Asian carp are clearly a serious issue and, as the title of the article alludes to, it is a lack of knowledge, the “unknowing fishermen,” who are mostly responsible for the spread of aquatic invasive species including the Asian carp. The first step to control should be prevention, which starts with education of the anglers and other persons responsible for the transportation of invasive species. It seems that few control methods have been very effective for the Asian carp without damaging many native species as well. Pesticides are always an option, but they are generally lethal for native species of fish as well. According to the article, electric currents can be used to “discourage” the spread of fish into new areas.
It seems to me that more research needs to be done about effective methods of controlling the Asian carp once it is established in an ecosystem, and education efforts need to be increased to stop the further spread of species such as the Asian carp. If anglers and boaters see the swarms of Asian carp around their boats and are told that they can help to prevent this from happening in other areas, they will most likely be willing to do their part to stop any future spread. Asian carp have been an issue in Europe for some time, so collaboration with other countries or agencies should be encouraged so that a solution can be found.
Welcome to Aquatic Invasive Species! I’ve asked each of you to introduce yourself to your classmates for your first blog entry. The purpose of this informal, ungraded post – aside from getting to know each other – is to figure out the basics of WordPress. Please attempt the following on your own: (1) access the blog dashboard, (2) create a post, (3) edit a post, (4) comment on your peers’ entries, and (5) insert a hyperlink into the text of a post. Don’t worry if you can’t figure out any of these tasks. Bring your concerns to class on Wednesday and we’ll have a group trouble-shooting session.
Now for your professor’s introduction! I’m Sandra Cooke and I’m happy to call Durham home, though I was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. My scholarly interests include the ecology of ultraviolet radiation and, of course, aquatic invasive species (specifically Asian carp and the water flea Daphnia lumholtzi). My non-scholarly interests include running, traveling, and cooking. I look forward to working with all of you this semester!