Friday, March 27, 2015

Invasive Asian and Formosan termites team-up to form superswarms and are beginning to hybridize

Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) and Asian subterranean termites (C. gestroi) are from two separate parts of Asia and wouldn't naturally meet.  In fact, not only are they geographically separated, their fertile swarms happen at different times.  Or, rather, this was the case.  Both species have been introduced to Florida and, as of 2013, have been found to swarm at the same time.  Swarming is when the winged reproductive termites, called alates, fly to new areas to start new colonies.  New research by Chouvenc et al. found that not only were they swarming at the same time, but were able to hybridize.  In fact, in their laboratory, it was noted that the Asian termites preferred the female Formosan termites over their own females.  The hybrids termite colonies were found to develop faster than the non-hybrid colonies, with the hybrid colonies producing twice the number of termites to the non-hybrid colonies.  As it can take several years for a colony to become mature and produce alates, it is currently unknown the impact this will have long-term on the invasive termite population and spread in Florida.

formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org


To read the featured research article: Two most destructive termite species forming superswarms in South Florida
To read the journal article: Hybridization of Two Major Termite Invaders as a Consequence of Human Activity


Thursday, March 26, 2015

World Register of Introduced Marine Species

A catalog of more than a thousand alien species found in Earth’s oceans launched this week. The World Register of Introduced Marine Species describes an initial 1457 species within the comprehensive World Register of Marine Species (launched in 2007) that have been spread by humans beyond their historic ranges. To create the list, a team of researchers sponsored by the Flanders Marine Institute in Ostend, Belgium, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Invasive Species Specialist Group spent 2 years compiling databases of invasive species and consulting nearly 2500 scientific papers….


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 FWC/IFAS Research Review for Invasive Plants in Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Invasive Plant Management Section and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) held its biannual Research and Outreach Review Meeting at the UF/IFAS Orange County Extension Office in Orlando, Florida on March 4-5, 2015. The purpose of this meeting was to exchange current scientific research and outreach information on invasive plant management in Florida. The 1.5 day research and outreach review was attended by over one hundred participants and included university and government scientists, federal, state, and local government resource managers, and outreach professionals.

A link to the meeting agenda and to the PowerPoint presentations in PDF format can be found at the UF/IFAS CAIP website here

The meeting was coordinated by Mr. Don Schmitz (FWC) and Dr. Bill Haller (UF/IFAS-CAIP).

Massive die-off of Sierra Nevada trees; With drought comes beetles

Thousands of acres on public and private lands are home to dead and dying trees, and this makes forestry and fire officials concerned.  Western pine beetles thrive in drought, when the Ponderosa pines natural sap defenses are weakened, and only wet years will reduce populations.  All types of conifer trees are being affected by the drought, with some succumbing to drought and some from the bark beetles that are moving in.  Either way, large numbers of dead trees are a fire hazard and are being removed on public lands and private at a cost of upwards of hundreds of dollars per tree.  Those in the logging industry blame the Forest Service for not allowing thinning on public lands, but natural resources economist John T. Austin likens the current tree mortality to a hot patchy fire.  While the trees aren't being selectively thinned by the drought and the bark beetles, but it will leave behind the healthier trees and a greater diversity.

mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) on ponderosa pine near Antero Jct, South Park,CO by William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
*Note: image is not from current drought

To view the article: Sierra Nevada pine tree die-off worsens as beetles thrive in drought
To view a map of the drought: U.S. Drought Monitor

Leaf odor attracts Drosophila suzukii

See article here: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-leaf-odor-drosophila-suzukii.html and here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10886-015-0544-3