Friday, February 5, 2010

Top Ten Invasive Species

Today I'm going to talk about invasive species to hopefully recieve enrichment from my English teacher. There are a lot of invasive species, but I am only going to acknowledge the top ten invasive species. I am going to explain why they are invasive and the possible causes and effects of why it's happening.

1) Asian Carp:

Although Asian Carp were used to remove algae from catfish farmers' ponds in the 1970's, over the decades catfish ponds are overflowing because of floods. As a result, the carp were released into the Mississippi river basin. The problem with that is, since Asian Carp can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh 100 pounds, it is dangerous to the fisherman because they tend to leap out of the water. Barriers were constructed to keep them contained a few years ago, but they think the fish have found a way around it. Although they wanted to close Chicago's waterways, they refused. They filed a lawsuit against them, but the court ruled against it, so they will remain open for now.

2) Rabbits:

A recent report in the New York Times concluded that up until last October, rabbits have been living in burrowed holes at a museum and World Heritage site on a piece of land off the coast of southwestern South Africa. Chris Wilke was hired and was told to help keep the population under control, and so far, 5300 rabbits have been killed and they are planning to exterminate 8000 more. After this case has been solved, he might meet with the Foundation of Rabbit-Free Australia so that he might be able to help contain another immensely overpopulated area where the rabbits are threatening the ecosystem and have caused millions of dollars in damage.

3) Cane Toads

Although they were originally introduced to control pests, they have now become one. They were brought from Central America to Australia to attempt to control the beetle population in sugar plantations, but the toads ended up taking over instead. They have very few natural enemies that aren't in Central America, and since they have sacs that contain poison, when other animals try to eat them they release the poison and it kills the predator within minutes. They tend to steal food that diminish the resources for other native animals, and will even steal pet food that is left in bowls outside houses. They are up to 6 inches in length and weigh up to 3 pounds, and are serious threats to not only Australia where there are hundreds of millions of them, but also to Florida and Texas' ecosystems.

4) Kudzu

Kudzu is a vine that is often called, "the vine that ate the South," and was first seen in the U.S. when they fell in love with the beautifully fragranced flowers and bright green leaves. Initially used in Asia for decorative purposes, the U.S. government paid farmers to plant it to avoid soil erosion. They may seem harmless, but an astonishing fact is that it grows up to 1 foot each day in the hot summer months, and is capable of breaking powerlines, killing trees and collapsing buildings. It grows too successfully outside of its original habitat, and not only does this destructive plant not have any natural predators outside of Asia, it also is difficult to uproot. As a result, this plant covers several millions of acres of the Southeast.

5) Gray Squirrel

These Gray Squirrels may seem adorable, but in reality, it is one of the most detested animals of Britain. Native from America, the Gray Squirrel carries a deadly disease called squirrel pox, to which they are immune to but the red squirrels are not. Eating seven times more per 100 acres than the red squirrel, Gray Squirrels diminish any competitors that may manage to survive the deadly plague. The people of Britain can't imagine having the red squirrel vanish forever, having been dwindled out by the "relentless northern march of the grays." The aftermath of this crisis has resulted in the consumption of the Gray Squirrel to the point where butchers could hardly keep up with the demand.

6) Killer Bees

An uprising event resulted in the creation of a horror movie based off of it and a few other incidents along the way for a reason. A catastrophe occured in 1957 when a beekeeper inadvertantly released 26 Tanzanian bees in Brazil. After being released, the queen bees mated with European honeybees to create what is now called a Killer Bee. Being a very aggressive species, they have been known to invade European honey hives and assign a new leader by killing their queen bee. They first started populating in the U.S. in the year of 1990, and have over the years spread to many states, some of which include California, Florida, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Although the movie Killer Bees creates a fear in most viewers that is a false accusation, there is a different issue that you should be cautious of. Killer Bees may not inject any more toxic substances than a honeybee like the movie suggests, the Killer Bee is capable of stinging multiple times, and have been known to sting victims over 1000 times. The issue is that not only are they harmful to humans, but to agriculture as well, because they don't produce an efficient amount of honey.

7) Starlings

Hoping to introduce every type of bird acknowledged by Shakespeare into North America, an individual named Eugene Schieffelin released 60 starlings in Central Park in New York. He hoped that they would develop in their new home in a different way than the skylarks and the thrushes had not, and he was successful at that. Now, instead of 60 starlings, they are now flying in mobs of up to 1 million. They are suspected to carry several infectious diseases in their droppings and they can eat up to 20 tons of potatoes in a single day. Countless attempts have been made to contain the population of this bird, but nothing siezed them; not even poisoned pellets, live wires, itching powder, Roman candles, cobalt 60 and amazingly a jetliner. They are becoming so dangerous that 62 people were killed in a disaster where a group of 10,000 starlings flew head on into a Lockheed Electra and damaging the engine to the point where the plane crashed.

8) Northern Snakehead

This carniverous fish originates from Asia but appeared in Maryland in 2002 when it disrupted wildlife in the local pond. The Northern Snakehead has teeth as sharp as a shark's, and has the unusual ability to walk on land. While most fish can travel only as far as the body of water will take them, the Northern Snakehead can live for up to four days out of water and walks on land by squirming around back and forth like a snake. Now, this snake has been seen everywhere from New York to California. Apparently, the whole cause of this was by a local resident releasing two of them after buying them from a fish market in a local New York neighborhood. Ironic, huh?

9) Zebra Mussels

Theis species is native to the Caspian Sea, and were suspected to have come to the Great Lakes by clinging to the hulls of the U.S.-bound European vessels. Although they are considered a decicacy, they have left a terrible ecological outcome. Since the incident with the vessel, they have spread to New England and feed on phytoplankton that maintains the filter feeders that support the health and diets of larger fish. Unfortunately, that causes other species to starve. It is an utter nightmare for power plants and water-consuming facilities that have invested over 500 million dollars per year battling the buildup of mussels that clog the pipelines.

10) Burmese Python

The release of counless Burmese Pythons into the wild once they are too big for their tanks has caused an even bigger issue. Usually, domesticated animals fail to survive in the wild, but the Burmese Pythons have successfully multiplied and thrived in the wild, especially in the Everglades. They are finding the pythons becoming a threat to the people in the Everglades and are feeding off of the endangered species. Despite the fact that 1300 pythons have already been removed from the Everglades, the still growing species may result to a ban of the impractical pets.

Thank you for reading. I will be posting again soon on a new topic. Thanks again (:

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