Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Michael Shaughnessy on 08-12-2010

McGrath will observe the predator-prey relationship between the invasive American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and native frogs of the western United States.  Plastic tanks will be used to monitor 4 native frog species and determine if the American bullfrog has a preference of size or species.  With the role of the American bullfrog more clearly understood, high-risk areas can be determined and control techniques can be implemented in those areas.

Arora proposes an experiment to explore one method of delaying cane toad (Bufo marinus) proliferation in invaded areas. This experiment involves using negative environmental stresses (including parasites and genetically modified male toads) to stem cane toad invasion rates. The purpose of Arora’s research is to find a means of delaying cane toad spread while research continues toward reversing cane toad invasion and damage.

Braxton’s pre-proposal focuses on whether meat ants can control the spread of the cane toad population in Australia. The study will also examine whether meat ants are harmful to native animals (especially native frogs). Different numbers of meat ants will be placed in various locations, and the resulting number of dead cane toads will be recorded and observed. If the meat ants can sustain themselves in the new environment and decrease cane toad population, they would be a help to the ecosystem in Australia.

Ferguson’s study will discuss whether the presence of submerged vegetation such as hydrilla increases the reproductive success of the northern snakehead. Pairs of northern snakeheads will be placed in habitats with and without vegetation to observe the success rate of reproduction. If this rate is significantly lower in the habitats without vegetation, it will be concluded that the nest plays a crucial role in the reproduction process. Therefore, the results of the study will help to evaluate the effectiveness of controlling northern snakehead by means of controlling hydrilla.

Our Committee has selected Katie Ferguson’s “Reproductive success of northern snakeheads with and without vegetation” to solicit a full proposal to our committee. As of now, the most effective way to eradicate, or at the very least control, the northern snakehead has been by poisoning the bodies of water that they have invaded. However, such an action kills all the species in the water. Ferguson proposes a new, significantly less destructive method of eradicating the northern snakehead. If Ferguson is able to conduct the tests needed to evaluate the question outlined in the Pre-Proposal and the results yield a favorable outcome, the way ecologists attempt to eradicate the northern snakehead could fundamentally change, for the better. This proposed method would solely target the northern snakehead and for the most part leave the native species unharmed, which is far better outcome than when poisons are used.

The one concern our committee has about your pre-proposal is that it will be conducted in a laboratory. There are many factors that go into successful reproduction in the wild, and many of these factors cannot be replicated in the laboratory. With that in mind, we recommend that in your full proposal you detail the ways in which you will make sure the test conditions closely mimic those found in the wild. We look forward to reading your full proposal in the near future.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Kyle Rand on 08-12-2010

Review Panel: Kyle Rand, Mike DiNunzio, Russell Buescher, Tyler Lacy

Proposal #1 (King) creates a method of determining whether an environment will be suitable for the mitten crab based on ecological data. The author plans to first compare temperature and salinity against crustacean population density using remote sensing probes, then recreate a range of these conditions within the lab to determine their effect. Based on this information, the author hopes to be able to create a extrapolative model that will be able to determine an areas vulnerability to mitten crab invasion.

Proposal #2 (Shaughnessy) plans to evaluate the effectiveness of using the native blue crab as a biocontrol agent for the European green crab. The experiment will involve monitoring two environments: one on the Chesapeake Bay, an area home to both species, and one in Massachusetts, an area home to only European green crab with introduced blue crab species. The populations of each species and the native fauna will be recorded every month over a yearlong period.

Proposal #3 (Ferguson) focuses on the potential use of Microphallus sp as a biocontrol mechanism for Potamopyrgus antipodarum in the Great Lakes.  The purpose of her experiment is to both evaluate the effectiveness of Microphallus as biocontrol, and to ensure that its introduction into the Great Lakes will not cause a new invasive species problem.

Proposal #4 (Cefaro) focuses on the analysis of the possible effects that the spiny water flea has on the Great Lakes. He plans to mimic his study on previous studies to validate what it is negatively affecting the ecosystem of the lake.

Our review panel recommends funding be used for Ferguson’s proposal.  She demonstrates extensive knowledge of the problem of the New Zealand mud snail, as well as the possible negative side effects of using other species for biocontrol.  However, she has sound research methods that seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of Microphallus as biocontrol, all the while also measuring the effect of Microphallus on other species in the Great Lakes.  Her understanding of the issues are shown by this two-fold research approach, and the experimental design will certainly produce outcomes relevant to understanding how to eliminate the New Zealand mud snail.

As a panel, we chose Ferguson’s proposal over the others because her methodology accurately addresses the issue presented by the New Zealand mud snail, and the anticipated outcomes have strong future implications towards this specie’s elimination.  While King’s proposal addresses a pressing issue about the Chinese mitten crab, key parts of this proposal’s methodology are excluded, and it fails to explain how a predictive model will ultimately help to control the crab.   Similarly, the research question detailed by Shaughnessy is relevant to the control of the blue crab, but we would recommend including both male and female blue crabs in the Massachusetts study to simulate normal conditions.  Also, he lacks a complete explanation of the future outcomes of the Massachusetts population of European green crab if the blue crab is shown to be effective as a biocontrol agent.   Meanwhile, though Cefaro’s ideas are good, his paper is not presented in a way that is easily understood and the outcomes of his project seem less beneficial than the other proposals.  Ultimately, Ferguson’s strength in fully explaining her logic, methods, and anticipated results are why we chose her proposal over the others.

Review Panel: Natalie Ferguson, Stefan Cafaro, and Brianca King

Bryan Lockwood, “The Efficiency of UV Disinfection and Crumb Rubber Filtration on the Invasive Species Content in Ballast Water”

Lockwood’s pre-proposal addresses the problem of the transfer of aquatic invasive species through ballast water. Lockwood suggests the use of UV radiation and crumb filtering to decontaminate the ballast water effectively. He will test the success of these treatments through the use of tanks receiving three separate treatments and one control.

Michael Di Nunzio, “Assessing the Risks Posed by the Chinese Mitten Crab”

In this pre-proposal, Di Nunzio discusses the possible correlation between mitten crab invasion and infrastructure damage in San Francisco. He furthers this exploration to address the possibility of an invasion in other areas with important infrastructure. He proposes to test these questions through a study similar to Rudnick et al. (2000).

Caitlin O’Neill, Determining the Efficiency of Ballast Water Exchange in Reducing Species Spread

O’Neill proposes to study the effectiveness of removing invasive species in the filtering of ballast water during an exchange. O’Neill will study this by recording the percentages and types of species filtered out from the ballast water in the boats San Francisco bay. The exchange method, voyage conditions, size of boats, and other factors will be accounted for in her study.

We as the review panel have chosen to fund O’Neill’s study of ballast water in San Francisco bay. We determined our money would be best invested in this project because the outcomes expected from this project are most beneficial to the science community as well as society as a whole. O’Neill also thoroughly supported the necessity for proper ballast water filtration. We also feel that this study can be effective in convincing the government to further regulate control of ballast water exchange. This pre-proposal was chosen over the other two because O’Neill convinced us of the importance of this issue. For instance, Lockwood’s pre-proposal was not chosen because we did not feel he adequately supported the significance of ballast water treatment. The pre-proposal was brief, leaving room for elaboration. He also had several grammatical errors indicating the proposal should be proof-read. Di Nunzio’s pre-proposal was strong, however, we felt his study would not benefit the scientific community as much as O’Neill’s. Although San Francisco is an area heavily invaded by foreign species , Di Nunzio only focused on mitten crabs. O’Neill’s study will encompass all invasions from ballast water, which includes mitten crabs.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Albert Chen on 08-12-2010

Biological Control: The best way to end the Pterois volitans invasion?

In Shane Stone’s preproposal, he is trying to see if Tiger grouper can act as an agent for biological control to hunt Red Lionfish.  He hopes that these fish will hunt on lionfish similar to Blue Spotted cornetfish, which eat lionfish in their native habitats. He will conduct this expermint by placing lionfish, tiger grouper, and blue spotted cornetfish in tanks, comparing how tiger grouper feed on lionfish relative to blue spotted cornetfish.

Quagga Mussels vs. Zebra Mussels, which species is more dangerous to Lake Erie?

The goal of this study is to find out whether the Quaga Mussle can outcompete the Zebra Mussle, as both invasive species have skyrocketed in numbers and seem to fill the same niche. To test this, the mussels’ abilities to consume phytoplankton are measured. The mussels are put in a mesocosm to observe their interaction. The results of this still will allow scientists to divert their attention to the more troublesome species.

Efficiently Trapping Wild Nutria to Control Invasive Populations

The nutria is an invasive rodent found throughout wetlands in the United States. They cause significant damage to the wetlands through destruction of vegetation. There are various methods to controlling nutria populations. There are various ways to capture nutria using various baits in various traps. This experiment combines the most effective bait with the most effective trap to see if they work cohesively. Overall, it is a good experimental set-up. It is an important step that should be taken before a large scale version is initiated. In terms of feedback, reread through the paper and reword sentences that seem awkwardly phrased.

The Nutria Problem: How it can be reduced through the use of incentives for hunters and trappers

We would give the funding to Nutria1 by Braxton Deaver because he had the most effective pre-proposal. In his introduction, he covered every aspect of the Nutria, including its detrimental impact to humans, showing the importance of his research project.  Also, by having information on the previous experiments that have used incentives, he shows that his experiment will be effective.  The experimental set up (methodology) was clear, and he had only minor errors in prose and grammar.

He went into full detail as to the detrimental impacts of the nutria animal.  He really made it feel like his experiment was important and demanded the most attention out of any of the other pre-proposals.  While all experiments seemed important, Braxton did the best job of emphasizing the importance of his experiment.  This comes from the depth of his rationale which was about twice as long as any of the other rationales.  But it was all important information and that is why we chose to give funding to Braxton Deaver.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Cecile Diaz on 08-12-2010

Efficacy of a Fugal Pathogen and Biological Control weevil on Limiting Eurasian Water Milfoil Biomass

Proposal #4 (Grokenberger) was focused on invasive Eurasian water milfoil. The author was interested in researching the effects of a fungal pathogen, M. terrestris, on Eurasian milfoil biomass in realistic conditions outside a laboratory. Since, weevils had previously been used in biocontrol, they decided to compare the ability of the fungal pathogen to manage Eurasian water milfoil by itself and with in conjunction with weevils.

Integrating chemical, biological, and mycoherbicidal control of Alligator weed to reduce weed growth in North Carolina

Majumdar’s pre-proposal is focused on the alligator weed, an invasive species which forms giant mats over aquatic bodies and blocking our sunlight.  The paper suggests preforming a study on the plant by testing several different types of control methods, namely a flea beetle, mycoherbicide, and herbicide, and then various combinations of the three.  The goal is to see which single treatment or combination of treatments is most effective at reducing the growth of alligator weed over the course of six months.

The efficacy of biocontrol on invasive Melaleuca quinquenervia in the Everglades

The Melaleuca tree is an invasive plant in the Florida Everglades and especially thrives under moist conditions. The tree covers nearly 0.6 million hectares of land and is an ecological and economic concern in the Everglades, costing the US $2 billion while reducing biodiversity. The author plans to explore biological control in combination with chemical control on the tree and whether water levels influence each control method. The methodology calls for 40 saplings, each subjected to different irrigation levels to simulate water levels and various combinations of biological and chemical control. After two years of weekly observations, the trees’ biomasses will be measured to determine if the control methods were successful in stopping the growth of the Melaleuca tree.

Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Hydrilla verticillata

The goal of this study is to use remote sensing to create a spectral library of the annual lifecycle of hydrilla, an invasive plant. The proposal suggests that remote sensing will improve upon the costly and inefficient field based methods that have been used in the past, and help to better detect the distribution of hydrilla in various environmental conditions.


Our group chose to recommend Mejia’s “Efficacy of biocontrol on invasive Melaleuca quinquenervia in the Everglades”. This pre-proposal outlined a study that sought to determine the effects of both biological and chemical control methods on the Melaleuca tree, an invasive plant in the Florida Everglades. The pre-proposals objectives were two-fold; first, determine if water levels influenced the efficacy of biological controls on the tree, and second, to determine if an herbicide would be effective in combating the tree along with the biological controls.

While the pre-proposal was obviously well thought out and very informative, our group thought that it was perhaps a bit too descriptive for a pre-proposal. We were questioning whether sections needed to be elaborated on, such as the Objectives and Hypothesis portion. There was information presented that may not be necessary for a pre-proposal, but would be more appropriate to add in a full proposal. In short, the paper as a whole could certainly be condensed to make less complicated or extensive. In addition, towards the end of the pre-proposal, the author tended to be repetitive, which adds to the density of the paper. We would advise the author to figure out and separate what is pertinent to the pre-proposal and what is simply superfluous.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Tuck Stapor on 08-12-2010

Proposal #1 (Buescher) is centered on the invasive Australian Spotted Jellyfish Transport.  Their paper is focused on treating ballast waters that contain this invasive species.  Their research will look for the most effective method of ballast water treatment: electrochemical disinfection, sonication, crumb rubber filtration, and biocide.  Our recommendation for this paper is to include the idea of cost effectiveness in your question section.  Also, make sure that the methodology section is understandable to the reader.

Proposal #2 (Castillo) focuses on a specific type of ballast water treatment, SeaKleen.  This proposal’s goal is to find out how safe this treatment method is to surrounding environments.  The research will test ballast water containing the SeaKleen chemical when it is released into the surrounding waters and will see if the SeaKleen chemical will affect the aquatic ecosystems.  Our may concern for this proposal is that there are a lot of logical leaps within the paper.  For example,  the writer brings about attractive characteristics of the chemical only to contradict these characteristics later on in the paper, which made it confusing for the reader to follow.

Proposal #3 (Lacy) focuses on a different type of ballast water treatment, the deoxygenation method.  The research will test the effectiveness of deoxygenation in reducing the number of aquatic invasive species transported to foreign waters.  The study will use a boat for 15 days, reduce the amount of oxygen in the ballast water, and then record the amount of species that are living and dead following the voyage.

We believe that Proposal #3 is the strongest proposal.  The writing is easily understandable and does not contain any leaps in logic.  The background information is very strong, clear and informative.  The rationale illustrates the importance and need for the research study.  The study itself does not seem as if it will be harmful for surrounding ecosystems or will cause lasting problems to the environment.  The methodology clearly answers the question, and the research applications for the future provide a logical next step to begin putting this ballast prevention treatment into practice.

One main concern for the proposal is that the objective is vague.  The writer uses the word effective often but should specify exactly how that is defined.  The writer should also consider explaining how pumping nitrogen reduces oxygen levels.  Also, there are a few unclear sentences in the final paragraph that the writer should go back and revise.  Overall though, a well thought out research proposal.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Manuela Mejia on 08-12-2010

Giant salvinia is an aquatic fern that has invaded 13 states because of its ability to form mats across water bodies and outcompete native plants. Ballard proposes to study a known method of control, the herbicide glyphosate, and test the effects of cold temperatures on its efficacy related to the winter conditions of the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Ballard anticipates that the results of the study will be useful to water resource managers to determine an optimal method of control.

G. calmariensis and G. puscilla are biological control weevils used to control the invasive purple loosestrife, which limits the growth of native vegetation such as the winged lythrum. Gaskins proposes to explore the effects of these weevils on the native winged lythrum to understand whether or not this control method is the most appropriate.

The water hycinath has proven itself to be in aquatic invasive species. It has spread all over the world and E. crassipes has migrated to over 50 countries on 5 continents, but is mainly found in southeast Asia, the southern United States, central America and western, central, and southern Africa. Dickey proposes an experiment to show how Diquat, 2, 4-D amine can restrict the growth rate of water hyacinth such that biological agents can effectively reduce water hyacinth populations.

Diaz proposes an experiment geared towards the prevention and reduction of the Didymo, an aquatic invasive algae in North America. Thus far the efforts to combat this species have involved raising public awareness and preventing further spread of the algae. Knowing that particular base-flow indexes of streams may affect Didymo grwoth, this proposal suggests using hydrological control of model streams with Didymo populations to see whether nuisance blooms could be prevented and whether existing Didymo mats could be washed out.  The author believes that if their experiment shows successful reduction and prevention of Didymo populations, they will have identified a mechanism for permanently control Didymo.

We recommend soliciting a full proposal from Diaz’s experiment. The presence of Didymo is clearly a significant issue, and the author presents the concern in a concise, yet sufficient, manner. The methodology is very clear. The process for this experiment is realistic and thorough. Also, the application and findings from this experiment would be an important discovery to help understand the characteristics of Didymo and control this species in an ideal way.

Our suggestions for Diaz are limited but significant. Firstly, the pictures are not cited, although this is minor. Second, the objectives are given as statements, and we believe the objectives would be more effective if phrased as questions. Also, each of the eight experimental units will be tested for merely two weeks.  Is it possible that more time should be allotted for observations? If two weeks is reasonable, perhaps this should be substantiated somewhere in the rationale or methods.  Most importantly, the anticipated outcome section states that if this experiment is successful, these findings can be directly applied to preventing Didymo permanently in nature; how exactly would hydrological control methods be applied in a natural stream setting? The steps that would be taken for this to occur should be outlined or at least briefly mentioned.  Lastly, even if this study was successful, the study makes no suggestion about the need for further research. We believe that if no follow-up research occurs, the findings of this study cannot be substantiated.