News and Research Archive

Posted 10/03/08

Invasive plants on UAF Campus mapped

University of Alaska Fairbanks senior Jessica Guritz mapped invasive plants on the UAF campus this summer as an integrated pest management technician. Her work, a joint project of the Cooperative Extension Service and the U.S. Forest Service, identified 14 invasive species that volunteers will evict. The final product of her work is a series of aerial photos showing the locations and densities of these species and a report. She worked under the direction of Extension agent Michele Hebert. Says Guritz, "It has been a great experience working on this project and I encourage others to join the battle against invasive plants in Fairbanks!"

Posted 11/28/07

Rats wipe out seabirds on Alaskan island

USA Today article describes wildlife refuge program to prevent rats from getting on ships, shipwreck (rat's spill response) and a proposal to eradicate rats from a refuge island. An Environmental Assessment is in preparation and will be made public by the end of the year or sooner.

Posted 11/5/07

Radio piece on aquatic invasives
Link to the APRN radio broadcast audio from November 1. Linda Shaw and Lisa Ka'aihue contributed to the story.

Posted 8/23/07

EPA Draft Effects of Climate on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and Implications for Management and Research (EPA-HQ-ORD 2007-0666)

Comment period ended September 10, 2008. Link to the external review draft (EPA National Center for Environmental Assessment):

Report Summary:
This draft report addresses the potential effects of climate change on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and consequences for their management, and describes apparent research gaps. The report is intended for managers and scientists working with AIS to provide them with information on the potential effects of climate change on AIS, strategies for adapting their management to accommodate these environmental changes, and highlight further research needs and gaps. The literature review that introduces this report shows that important progress has been made in identifying climate change effects on invasive species, but that our understanding of effects on specific species and interactions of other stressors needs to be improved. Following the literature review is an analysis of existing AIS management plans to assess the capacity of states to modify or adapt their management activities to account for climate change effects. The assessment shows that most states currently do not explicitly consider climate change in their aquatic invasive species management plans, but that many plans can incorporate new information on changing environmental conditions. Finally, this report compares information needs of AIS managers with current research to determine where gaps exist. Overall, more information and research are needed on many aspects of the effects of climate change on AIS.

Posted 5/24/07

Outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus Gastroenteritis Associated with Alaskan Oysters

New England Journal of Medicine article (.pdf)

Article summary (Lisa Ka'aihue, PWSRCAC): 
"A recent example of potential invasive species impact occurred during the summer of 2004. Oyster farmers in Prince William Sound suffered an outbreak of human illness caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). One farm was implicated in the outbreak of 62 confirmed cases, making this the first incident of Vp in the state and the second largest outbreak in United States history. Although this outbreak is still under investigation, the O6:K18 isolate is similar to that found in Puget Sound, and the researchers have not ruled out the possibility that it may have resulted from a ballast water invasion. As long as Prince William Sound keeps receiving vast amounts of untreated ballast water, and continues to experience rising water temperatures in Alaska due to global warming, more such incidents are very likely."

Posted 9/20/06

Ships dumping ballast water target of ruling

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
By ERIK ROBINSON, Columbian staff writer

"A federal judge Monday called invasive species possibly stored aboard the ballast water of ships an 'irreparable' degradation to the nation's coastal environment, and ordered federal regulators to take a much tougher stand."  Full text in PDF

Posted 8/22/06

Atlantic salmon caught in Cook Inlet traced to Washington HATCHERY: First ever in Inlet, but hundreds picked up in Alaska.

The Associated Press 
Published: August 23, 2006 
Last Modified: August 23, 2006 at 05:49 AM

KENAI -- An Atlantic salmon caught near Kasilof in July had escaped from a private hatchery in Washington state, according to state wildlife officials.

The fish was the first documented Atlantic salmon in Cook Inlet, but the origin of the fish remained unknown until lab tests focused on its otoliths -- small, rounded bonelike structures found in the inner ears. The structures develop unevenly depending on the fish's growth rate, forming rings like those akin to tree rings.

The fish found off Cohoe Beach had very even growth rings, indicating it had received regular feedings, like salmon raised in hatcheries and farms, according to Bob Piorkowski, invasive species program coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

With the help of the Washington Department Fish and Wildlife, the Alaska agency determined the fish had likely escaped from a private hatchery near Scatter Creek in Rochester, Wash.

While inspecting the otoliths, Fish and Game discovered what is called a thermal mark, meaning it had been briefly exposed to higher than normal temperatures that leave a distinguishing mark on otoliths. Washington requires Atlantic salmon raised in state waters to undergo such marking to help in identification should a fish escape.

Piorkowski said the mark found on the otolith could have been caused by something other than the thermal exposure, but it is unlikely.

The Washington hatchery's last major escape occurred in spring 2005 when 4,500 one-pound fish were released, Piorkowski said. A hatchery official said, however, the salmon found in Cook Inlet likely escaped in May when fish were loaded onto a transfer barge, Piorkowski said.

Atlantic salmon can jump higher than Pacific salmon.

Alaska prohibits raising farmed Atlantic salmon, but nearly 600 specimens of the species have been documented in state waters. One out of every 100 Atlantic salmon raised on fish farms in British Columbia and Washington escapes, according to Piorkowski.

The concern for many is that Atlantic salmon could spoil native salmon stocks through colonization, interbreeding, predation, habitat destruction and competition.

Posted 7/27/06

Opposing effects of native and exotic herbivores on plant invasions

The most recent issue of Conservation in Practice has a condensed version of the following paper, which sounds very interesting (Submitted by Jeanne Standley, BLM):

John D. Parker,* Deron E. Burkepile, Mark E. Hay. 2006. 
Opposing effects of native and exotic herbivores on plant invasions. 
Science 311:1459-1461

Exotic species are widely assumed to thrive because they lack natural enemies in their new ranges. However, a meta-analysis of 63 manipulative field studies including more than 100 exotic plant species revealed that native herbivores suppressed exotic plants, whereas exotic herbivores facilitated both the abundance and species richness of exotic plants. Both  outcomes suggest that plants are especially susceptible to novel, generalist herbivores that they have not been selected to resist. Thus, native herbivores provide biotic resistance to  plant invasions, but the widespread replacement of native with exotic herbivores eliminates this ecosystem service, facilitates plant invasions, and triggers an invasional "meltdown."

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