Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lionfish Eating Each Other as Prey Become Scarce

While still a rare occurrence, as prey fish populations are declining, some lionfish are turning to cannibalism.  Two recent surveys of stomach contents reported that 4 of 130 lionfish in the Bahamas had consumed other lionfish and in 16 intact lionlish specimen in 157 stomachs in Mexico.  Unfortunately, this probably won't become a natural lionfish population limiting practice.

lionfish (Pterois volitans) by Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,

Source Article:  This Beautiful But Destructive Fish Is Resorting to Cannibalism
Lionfish Cannibalism in Mexico: Monitoring an Alien Invasion: DNA Barcoding and the Identification of Lionfish and Their Prey on Coral Reefs of the Mexican Caribbean
Lionfish Images: Pterois volitans
Lionfish BugwoodWiki: Pterois volitans

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Emerald Ash Borer Killed by Traditional Method of Storing Wood

Black ash (Fraxinus nigra) is an important tree to the American Indian and First Nations people in the Great Lakes and northeastern regions of the U.S. and the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a grave threat to centuries-old traditions, primarily basketweaving.  One of the major concerns with the insect is that it is readily spread through movement of felled trees.  However, the local people's traditional storage method of submerging black ash logs in water has proven to effectively control emerald ash borer.

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) on ash (Fraxinus spp.) by Daniel Herms, The Ohio State University,

Researchers followed the submersion method outlined by the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan.  Using infested logs, researchers varied the length of submersion time and the time of year to find if this is a treatment option.  Researchers found that submerging logs in a river for 18 weeks in the winter or 14 weeks in the spring kills emerald ash borers and the resulting logs are still usable for basketweaving.  Interestingly, the winter time required is longer due to the insect overwintering in a dormant state.

Source Article: Basketmakers' tradition of storing black ash logs in water effective in killing emerald ash borer
Emerald ash borer images: Agrilus planipennis
Emerald ash borer BugwoodWiki: Agrilus planipennis
Black ash images: Fraxinus nigra

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Many benefits of Cover Crops

The 2015 Cover Crop Survey was recently released, it reports on the growers using cover crops and the effects that cover crops have on the productivity of the land.  A quick rundown of the numbers:
  • 1,229 farmers answered the online survey
  • 47 states represented in the results
  • 84% of respondents have planted cover crops
  • 3.66 more bushels per acre of corn after planting cover crops
  • 2.19 more bushels per acre of soybean after planting cover crops
  • 92% of producers who do not plant cover crops would be motivated to plant if there were economic incentives
  • 300 acres is the average expected acreage of cover crop planting for 2015
  • 84% of cover crops planted were cereal grains and grasses
Cereal rye (Secale cereale) is the most common cereal grain or grass planted as a cover crop.  Image by Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis,

Benefits of cover crops:
  • Increased yield
  • Increased organic matter
  • Improvement of soil health
  • Improved weed control
  • Reduced erosion
To learn more about the motivations of cover crop users and other information resulting from this survey: 2015 Cover Crop Survey
For a summarized report: 2015 Cover Crop Survey Analysis
Need help figuring out what cover crop to plant: USDA Cover Crop Chart

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bugwood goes to the Aquatic Plant Management Society Meeting

This is the first year that we have attended this meeting and it is definitely one we would like to go back to!  Over 100 people attended the meeting and represented academia, non-profit organizations, state agencies, federal agencies, industry, and other institutions.  The presentations were very interesting and we learned at lot.  Topics covered included: control/management methods, biology/physiology, monitoring technology, partnerships and programs, and interesting research.

Bugwood presented on the last day, covering the EDDMapS website, South Eastern Early Detection smartphone application, and covered the new push alert system.  The push alert system will send out alerts to user's smartphones about news relevant to the region or species included in the application.  Presentations given by other attendees were equally as interesting.

Did you know that when a crested floating heart (Nymphoides cristata) leaf is damaged or cut in half, it will grow roots and may produce daughter plants from the damaged leaf ?  This is information that will be important for planning management strategies in infested waterbodies.

crested floating heart (Nymphoides cristata) by Larry McCord, Santee Cooper,

There were several presentations on grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) movement in rivers and reservoirs.  Researchers will implant tracking devices in the grass carp and monitor their movement at key points to see where they will travel if they are introduced for invasive aquatic plants control.  Sterile grass carp, also called triploid grass carp, are often used in rivers to prevent them from reproducing.

grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Archive,

In addition to the presentations, there was a large station with many species of aquatic weeds!  This is great for showing the variety of species that are an issue nationwide.

Aquatic weeds identification station by Rebekah D. Wallace

Shortly before the awards dinner, there was a duck race!

Aquatic Plant Management Society Meeting Duck Race by Rebekah D. Wallace
This was an interesting and educational meeting, so if you're in the aquatic plants field you should check it out!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Populations Declining Despite Some Conservation Successes

Conservation programs have definitely increased populations of threatened and endangered species: Lesser-Prairie Chicken, Oregon Chub, and Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog are just a few of the species which have begun to rebound.  For many species, conflicts with humans, either directly or though habitat disturbance, is a primary cause of population decline.  In fact, habitat destruction is the main threat to 85% of the species assessed on the ICUN Red List.  As such, habitat restoration is a major part of most conservation plans and this has lead to population increases and delisting of some species.

Lion (Panthera leo) by Joy Viola, Northeastern University,
However, not all endangered species are part of conservation programs and many are protected are continuing to decline.  Big cats are very charismatic and are "poster animals" for conservation programs and endangered species.  Despite conservation efforts, many species are still declining due to prey animal population decline, human-animal conflict, and poaching.  Many species of plants are also impacted by human activities, not only habitat destruction, but also poaching.  Almost all of the 84 species of Asian slipper orchid are threatened by over-collection and habitat loss.

While 14 new species have been assessed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), no new species have been listed as Extinct.

Source Article: Conservation successes overshadowed by more species declines – IUCN Red List update

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lesser-Prairie Chicken Survey Shows 25% Population Increase in One Year!

The Lesser-Prairie Chicken Initiative (LPCI), like many successful programs, is a collaboration among government agencies and private landowners.  Not only does getting the public involved in the conservation efforts raise awareness and support, but 95% of the chicken's current range is on private land.  The lesser-prairie chicken is currently located in four ecoregions covering five states, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. From 2014 to 2015, the total population experienced a 25% increase; this is on top of last year's 20% increase.  As most of the population decline is due to habitat loss, USDA - Natural Resource Conservation Service, through the LCPI, has invested more than $20 million to help private landowners improve habitat and ranchland sustainability on nearly 950,000 acres since 2010.  By improving the habitat for the chicken, the ecosystem as a whole benefits from cleaner air, water, and soil.

Lesser-prairie chickens prefer grassland habitats. Image by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),

Source Article: Survey: Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Continues to Climb
Lesser-Prairie Chicken Initiative
Lesser-Prairie Chicken Survey - Aerial survey shows lesser prairie-chicken population increased 25 percent from 2014 to 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon Chub the First Fish to be Removed from the Endangered Species List

It took 20 years of work by a large group of federal and state agencies, private landowners, and other concerned programs, but the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) has been removed from the endangered species list.  The fish was listed in 1993 when the population was estimated to be 1,000 individuals in eight known locations.  Today, there are over 80 known location and the population had increased approximately 140,000.  The restoration efforts were funded 100% by USDA-ARS and the chub's habitat, slack water off-channel habitats such as beaver ponds, oxbows, side channels, backwater sloughs, low gradient tributaries, and flooded marshes, fell mostly under the Wetlands Reserve Program.  The population rebounded almost entirely due to habitat improvement and introduction to new locations within its historical range.  By developing cooperative partnerships with a number of different agencies, professionals, and private landowners projects like the Oregon chub recovery can succeed.

Beaver pond, typical habitat for Oregon chub. Image by Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,

Source Article: USDA Employee Named “Recovery Champion” for Oregon Chub Conservation Efforts
Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office: Species Fact Sheet Oregon chub