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 (SW10) by Albert Chen on 31-10-2010

Remote sensing through the use of satellites has existed for several decades, but only in the past few years have newer detector technologies made it possible to produce high resolution images capable of pinpointing individual species of plants. These new technologies have found their utility in invasive species management as it is an efficient way of monitoring the extent of problems. S.L. Ustin and colleagues at University of California, Davis tested the accuracy of airborne imaging spectrometry (AVIRIS) on Californian weeds that exist in various environments. After verifying the maps through field surveys, the study found that some environments yielded good results for mapping invasive species. Maps of riparian communities resulted in accuracies as high as 97%,  while annual grasses showed accuracies ranging from 82% to 100%. Through these results, ecologists can better choose the appropriate situations that allow remote sensing to produce confident results.


Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium 27, 14-18 (2002)

Joyce Yu’s paper defines the meaning of “authenticity” through a dissection of  country-pop’s roots, structure, and legacy. She initially and very generally explains that authentic music needs to balance the new and the old. I noticed after reading, that this vague definition was what hooked me into reading the rest of the paper and served as a very solid core to which new evidence and insight is planted on. The first body subtopic brings the audience back to the roots of country-pop and sheds light on why it was widely criticized  and likened to a “plaque.” Yu effectively brings a variety of sources to liven this necessary history lesson: magazine headlines, sociology phenomenons, and example artist. At the end of this subtopic, the evidence skews in favor of the old and makes country-pop look like a digression from an important country music value – community. It keeps the audience reading, wondering how country-pop can still serve as a model for authenticity. Yu shifts gears and examines the merit behind these claims by bringing in a case study of Patsy Cline’s music. Analysis of song structure and lyrics points out the features that are unchanging and those influenced by pop. Inclusion of sample sheet music reflects all the points mentioned and makes visualization a lot easier. A chronological documentation of the evolution of Patsy Cline’s music and her struggle compromising two seemingly polar opposites finally recapitulates that hybrids can create a new identity and bring out the best of both worlds, the very definition of authenticity.

One big aspect of Yu’s writing I greatly admire is her skill with keeping the reader interested. I noticed that my own writing does not carefully withhold information and instead keeps both sides of the story homogeneous. I don’t know if this would be appropriate for scientific writing, but I do know that it is perfect for keeping a general audience (like myself) interested. The contextual evidence is also very well integrated and directly back up her arguments. I know my own writing is not as direct and require a few sentence of explanation; I think that detracts from the focus of my writing.

Works Cited:

Yu, JY. (2010). Keepin’ it real: how commercialization of country music does not define artificiality. Deliberations,

Filed Under (SW7) by Albert Chen on 12-10-2010

In summary of Larson’s article, prevalent use of militaristic language to describe invasive species may serve as an easily understandable metaphor to help draw attention from the public, but is mostly short term, misleading, and comes with numerous other side effects. Larson argues that militaristic language implies that there are two opposing sides, and one (the good) with will triumph over the other (the evil). This view is evades reality where we are very much tied to invasive species through our actions and can not “triumph” over them. Additionally, with this language we stop looking at each individual species as separate cases and treat them all as “equally bad enemies,” perhaps compromising efficacy in control. On  the social facet, using loaded words alienates foreigners, polarizes those who oppose and those who support the “war,” and erodes public trust in scientific objectivity. Larson suggests that conceptualizing invasive species as a disease can serve as an alternative to help the public stay conscious of the our ecosystem’s health (Larson, 2005).

While doing further research on hydrilla, I came across a press release that reports the additional funds added to “fight the ongoing battle against hydrilla”  in Lake Conroe.  It consistently describes the situation as a desperate fight ongoing for several years where fish donors are “suffering from donor fatigue” (Kuhles, 2010).  While this is not a piece of scientific writing at Larson mainly discuses in his article, it still should still mirror the same amount of objectivity. In this specific case where the press release is targeting the residents of a small community, I believe that militaristic language is mostly beneficial because it helps incite citizens to take care of what’s in their own backyard. People like linear solutions, a good and a bad, especially if they don’t already have a strong understanding of the subject. However, Larson’s argument applies heavily to scientific writing. Objectivity is standard and militaristic writing is simply inappropriate.

KUHLES, BK. (2010). Montgomery county adds funds to fight hydrilla. The Houston Chronicle, Retrieved from

Larson, B. M. H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology/ Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.

Filed Under (SW5) by Albert Chen on 26-09-2010

Though the health of aquatic ecosystems relies heavily on the services provided by its plants, too many can be destructive. The hydrilla (hydrilla verticillata), an exotic aquarium plant costing the United States millions of dollars to control, is fit to thrive in the tropical waters of Brazil according to a study conducted by I. Bianchini Jr and his colleagues at the Federal University of Sao Carlos.

The study controlled several growth parameters such as temperature and light availability, and simulated those qualities characteristic of most South American reservoirs.  I. Bianchini Jr and his colleagues then calculated the mass doubling times of the hydrilla under the various conditions and compared them to those of native plants.  The hydrilla proves to posses astounding doubling times (some parts of the plants are as low as two days).  Analysis concludes that not only is the hydrilla capable of competing with native plants, but it is also likely to displace many of them.

Hydrobiology 644, 301-312 (2009)
Filed Under (SW3, Uncategorized) by Albert Chen on 21-09-2010

The Water Hyacinth is an invasive species that has proliferated since its introduction to Lake Victoria in the 1980’s. The lack of natural predators has allowed the plant to form dense mats over the lake, stagnating surface waters.  Lentic water provides breeding grounds for mosquitos and other disease causing organisms. The plant also robs sunlight, nutrients, and oxygen from the native species, hinders boating, and interrupts subsistence fishing. One of the more recent cleanup efforts involves the use of Neochetina, a weevil that predates on the Water Hyacinth. This form of biocontrol’s degree of effectiveness is a subject being debated.

El Nino weather patterns in 1997/1998 Lake Victoria were stormy, and water hyacinth numbers dipped around same time. Wilson et al. (2007) concluded that the incidental weather was only supplemental to the pressure imposed by the weevils. Low sunlight levels, they argue, present little trouble to the flourishing hyacinths in West Africa and Papua New Guinea and is not a major threat to the plants’ survival.  The study also points out that Lake Victoria’s time frame between weevil introduction and hyacinth decline is consistent with the maximum four years shown in other countries. Being the only control method implemented across the whole lake, weevil biocontrol is likely the main source of the drop. Wilson et al. however acknowledges that the wind and wave action can be major stressors to the perforated, weevil-ravaged plants.

Williams et al. (2007) address the arguments presented by Wilson et al. (2007) by clarifying that though poor lighting may not kill the plants, it is a stressor that compounds with other weather related factors such as water level, wave action, water quality, temperature and humidity. The study also calls attention to the 1998 “crash” that came prior to the larger hyacinth drop. Williams et al. (2007) believe that early deterioration of plant quality led to instability and weevil decline; plants sink, “taking with them weevil eggs, larvae, and pupae.” Williams et al. (2007) agrees that weevils are integral to the reduction of the water hyacinth, but notes that weevil densities remained low up to 2002 and likely did not play the largest role in hyacinth damage.

The authors of both studies seek to better monitor the hyacinth and weevil populations.

Hyacinth populations have rebounded since the two studies were written; nutrient laden runoff is suspected (NASA Earth Observatory, 2007).

I think the studies complement each other very well because each presents new scenarios and variables to be considered. I believe Williams et al. (2007) explanation regarding unstable bug populations is correct because weevils are very weak swimmers and heavily dependent on their hosts.


NASA Earth Observatory. 2007. Water Hyacinth Re-invades Lake Victoria. 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.

Filed Under (SW2) by Albert Chen on 10-09-2010

Habitat loss stands as the biggest source of extinction today. Right next to it is the threat of invasive species. Demonstrated by the numerous examples in National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth documentary, exotic species are altering the compositions of the world’s ecosystems. What makes this otherwise natural phenomenon alarming is the rate at which invaders are introduced to new parts of the world and the rate at which species are phased out. The biotic background for evolution is accelerating at a pace determined by compounding number of species involved and increasing exchange rates. Competitive interactions lead to niche displacements and ultimately in many cases, extinction. In a study attempting to simulate the worst case scenario of invasions, the world is depicted as a supercontinent with no geographic barriers while retaining its abiotic characteristics such as climate and landscape. Massive extinction would predictably result, with species losses of 65.7% for land mammals, 47.6% for land birds, 35% for butterflies, and 70.5% for angiosperms. If current trends continue, our age will be seen as the sixth great extinction, making it comparable to the famous End Cretaceous extinction that ended the existence of dinosaurs.

A lot of times I ask myself whether the species mixing is inevitable, a product of our own movement, and whether all the attention put on the subject is worth it at all. I think it is our ethical responsibility to at least attempt species management, especially if endangerment of extinction is man-made.

The methods used to fight invasive species seem to have their trade offs. Local efforts to physically remove the invader is selective and inefficient. I think that the educational value of community involvement is the biggest plus; knowing how issues directly effects the people is the essence of good citizenship. Closely monitoring areas for invaders makes prevention for feasible and seems to be the most efficient method. I don’t quite know what the termite control method actually does.

Filed Under (SW1) by Albert Chen on 02-09-2010

The Sea Lamprey is an eel-like parasitic fish that latches onto other fish using its disk-shaped mouth. Using its horny teeth and abrasive tongue, the lamprey chews away the scales and skin of its hosts and consumes the blood and bodily fluids with the assistance of anticoagulants. Six out of seven host fish die from the large amount of blood lost.  The Sea Lamprey did not become an exotic species until the construction of canals bridged it from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. In the Great Lakes, the Sea Lamprey had no natural predators, allowing it to quickly multiply and devastate the lake trout, salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, whitefish, yellow perch, burbot, walleye, and catfish stocks; fishing industries suffered naturally. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service investigated the invasion and devised several methods of population control. One relatively expensive treatment is a  lampricide called TFM, which kills lamprey immatures with little known effect on other wildlife and humans. Lower cost alternatives include the use of selective barriers, traps, and sterile male lampreys; sterile males compete with fertile ones, ultimately reducing the number of females fertilized. Though these methods have not and can not completely rid the Great Lakes of the Sea Lamprey, they have been tremendously successful at lowering the population enough to allow fisheries to thrive again.

I see the Sea Lamprey story as a prime example of how invasive specie problems arise and how they can be resolved. The construction of canals is only one way which geographic barriers all around the world are nullified. In this case it is Niagra Falls. Cleaning up the mess was made possible by the united efforts of all those effected and the foresight to recognize the high returns gained form such an investment. My own firsthand contact with his organism was marked with immediate revulsion and fascination, which has intensified with more research.  There are some things I want to know about the remedy. Exactly how aggressively were these tactics implemented? Since the population was already out of lag phase, how were they curbed away from exponential growth? I am also curious to know how important each of the of the tactics were to achieving the single goal.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Albert Chen on 30-08-2010

Hello! I’m Albert Chen and I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. I get lost pretty frequently and it’s probably because getting lost has a the same appeal to me as eating spicy food. First it sounds really cool to explore an unfamiliar place, but then you find out that you are wandering Paris at 3 am with a flight back home leaving in about two hours. I’m really excited about this class!!