Introduction for BugMobile vs. The Invasive Species
When people hear the word invasion, they think of all kinds of things wars alien attacks monsters In the early 60s some people were even worried about the British invasion in music.
And lots of people were worried about the foreign car invasion. Music Oh boy, well that’s just crazy. But then again what is an invasive species? Its any organism or living thing that adapts quickly to a new environment reproduces itself and spreads rapidly into new locations.
By the way, I’m the BugMobile. I’m a talking car. speaking German Many invasive species are foreigners originating from somewhere else, often from another continent. Species that are not native to our environment are termed, exotic. When a species is transplanted to a new local, and it doesn’t have any natural predators, it can quickly take over an area and pose a real threat to the environment by knocking the whole system out of balance. A species can be any kind of an organism, a plant, an animal, an insect or a virus. Of course, mankind as a species is the worst offender for knocking systems out of balance. Disturbances such as strip mining, logging or leveling land at construction sites create opportunities for invasive species to move in. Or you may have a relatively undisturbed area and introduce an invasive species into it and the natural balance may begin to shift. For centuries, humans have introduced new plant and animal species to different parts of the world. Some of these have been very beneficial, such as wheat from Egypt or cattle from Asia. Some introductions haven’t worked out so well. The starling, a medium sized black bird, was originally brought by European settlers. One organization wanted to collect all the birds ever mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare, and bring them to the United States. So they released some 80 – 100 starlings in New York City Central Park in the 1890’s. It turned out to be a poor tribute. In less than 80 years these highly adaptive and prolific birds have reached as far as Alaska; and today many people view these birds as a nuisance. Some introductions have been downright disastrous. The giant hogweed, a member of the parsley and carrot family, is a tall majestic plant originally brought to the US around 1920 as a landscape plant. It got out of the garden, into the wild, and is still spreading across Northwestern PA. It causes painful skin rashes when you come in contact with it, and it is now listed on Pa noxious weed list.
Multi Flora or Japanese rose, was another foreign species run amuck. It was originally promoted by the USDA as an excellent source of erosion control, a living fence for livestock and wild life cover and thousands of free cuttings were given out to create hedgerows.
Today, millions of dollars are spent trying to get rid of it. It does provide an excellent habitat and food source for many birds and small mammals, however it is extremely hardy and hard to get rid of because it can self-seed and quickly take over an area. Birds scatter the seeds wildly. It will take over pasture land and cows become unwilling to graze in the fields containing this thorny plant It has also been added to the federal and state noxious weed list.
In the south, kudzu was originally introduced as a forage crop, like hay for feeding animals. It too traveled beyond its original intended boundaries and virtually took over huge pieces of the southern landscape, crowding out all other plants and many animal habitats. It’s estimated that more than 3,000,000 acres in the land in the US are lost to invasive species. Invasive species cost our economy and estimated $138,000,000,000 a year.
What does that mean to each person? If you were to line up a 138 billion dollars’ worth of 1 dollar bills end to end, they would circle the earth 523 times. People didn’t see what was around the corner when they unknowingly imported invasive species that went spinning out of control; more often than not invasive species come about by accident. Crash!!! Oh NO!!
In a science class you might learn about vectors.
In physics, a vector often describes a force associated with a direction.
In Ecology, a vector is a force of nature, and it too is associated with a direction, the spread of a species to a new area. Because of their ability to spread rapidly, invasive species may represent a serious threat to agriculture, forests, parks, urban areas, human health or maybe even the environment in your own backyard. Sometimes unwanted organisms get here without our knowledge, and scientists try to figure out their vectors. How they got here, unwelcome plants, animals or disease causing micro-organisms may hitch hike to a new location, as a passenger on a boat, train, airplane, or automobile. A strange seed could come loose from a car tire tread, or bounce off a train or be eaten by a bird and deposited somewhere. Splat!! Ooh!
There are lots of vectors. Because we have so much world trade, it gets easier and easier to introduce exotic species. Every ship coming into port , every plane landing and every truck crossing a boarder is a potential vector for invasive species.
Today we’re going to look at just 4 different organisms that have invaded the Northeast. The Asian Longhorned Beetle, Purple Loosestrife, Plum Pox virus and Zebra Mussel. They illustrate problems we might face with insects plants diseases and aquatic animal life. These troublesome species wouldn’t be such a problem if they had just stayed in one place, but they don’t. They are invaders; they get around. Music, "I get around" by the Beach Boys.
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