Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Invasive species and our rivers and watersheds

Click here to enlarged Jack Ohman's cartoon.
new Oregon Sea Grant report found that teachers and classrooms may be vectors for invasive species. According to the research, one in four teachers who use live animals in the classroom release them into the wild. Read about the report at Breaking Waves and indelibly stamp Jack Ohman's cartoon on your minds.

The problem of invasive species is serious, national and local. It affects us right here in Southwest Oregon. Read more below about the efforts of volunteers and agencies to prevent the spread of a highly invasive plant in the Illinois Valley. We also provide links to government websites about the threats that invasive species pose to the State of Oregon, including invasive marine aquatic species from the Japanese tsunami debris. Watch Oregon Field Guide's program on the problems that common gold fish are causing when released into our streams and lakes.

Oregonian cartoonist Jack Ohman has graphically illustrated why teacher's practice of releasing live classroom animals can be a disastrous for humans and the ecosystems that sustain us. He urged Oregon Sea Grant's Breaking Waves to spread it like an invasive species. But his cartoon is applicable not just to teachers and classrooms but to all whose deliberate or careless actions result in non-native plant or animal introductions.

A late breaking news story about the capture of the largest snake ever found in the southeastern United States in the Everglades National Park (Florida) helps illustrate his point. The Burmese python is an invasive species that was brought into the U.S as part of the exotic pet trade. They either escaped or were dumped into the wilds by irresponsible owners when they were no longer fun.  Read more at National Geographic.

This year Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspectors found two boats contaminated with another highly invasive and destructive species, the zebra mussel. Read ODFW's press release here. Read about the huge threat zebra and quagga mussels are to our inland waters at this federal government website.

Invasive plants are another threat to public and private land. For example, the introduction of a non-native alyssum, known as yellow tuft (Alyssum murale, A. corsicum), into the Illinois Valley threatens some of the most botanically diverse lands in the nation. Southwest Oregon and Northwest California's serpentine terrain has one of the highest concentrations of rare endemic plants in North America.  The Illinois Valley is home to plant species found no where else in the world.

Volunteers painstakingly pulling tiny yellow tuft seedlings at the Rough and Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The control attempts also include pulling and disposing of fields of adult plants. The alyssum story will be featured on Oregon Field Guide this fall.
The yellow tuft was part of a phytomining scheme and has escaped onto National Forest and BLM lands, including Botanical Areas and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. It's invaded private land where it's a threat to livestock as well as rare plants.  Read more about yellow tuft at the Oregon Department of Agriculture's website and the Illinois Valley Watershed Council's IV Stream Team webpage on the invasive alyssum and what's being done to attempt to prevent its spread.

Learn about noxius plants and invasive species in Oregon at:
Yes, even your child's goldfish or those decorative fish some people keep in backyard ponds (or the bass someone introduced into Babyfoot Lake in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness) are highly destructive invasive species that cause harm to native species and ecosystems when allowed to escape or are deliberately dumped into the wild and the costs are monetary, ecological and cultural.