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PeakOil is You

PeakOil is You

Invasive Species

Re: Invasive Species

Unread postby dinopello » Thu 19 Jun 2008, 01:01:27

The "Tree of Heaven" is a scourge upon this earth.

They are everywhere and spreading. They grow fast and are useless as far as I can tell. My yard-neglecting neighbor has them all over her back yard and they pop up everywhere. Arg :x
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Re: Invasive Species

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 03 Jan 2018, 09:23:32

I just posted this in another topic in response to dohboi's question but it really belongs here so I am duplicating it. Technically I am violating the rules so please don't tell those mean Moderators or Admins about it, okay?

dohboi wrote:Also, how much do we know about the sea bed in ESAS. Is it utterly lifeless? If not, might there be some burrowing creatures there which may become more active as things warm? And even if it is now (which I doubt), might not new creatures be migrating into these newly warmed waters (I'm quite sure they are), some of which may be active burrowers? Couldn't these provide pathways for warm water to get directly down to deeper layers of sediment without having to depend on slow radiative transfer?...Just some thoughts that waft about in my feverish brain...

Back in the 1960's the USSR imported Alaskan King Crab from off their Pacific coast on the Kamchatka Peninsula to the Barents Sea which has a similar climate. These giant crabs now number in the tens of millions and have spread at least through the adjoining Norwegian Sea and the Kara Sea because the bottom water on the shelf is warm enough to support their entire life cycle including reproduction. The crucial question is have they made it as far back east as the Laptev Sea? Once they are able to spread that far the ESAS will be an open smorgasbord to them. On the other hand by the time the sea warms that much in the Arctic shelf they made have already spread under their own impetus up the Pacific coast and through the Bering Strait into the ESAS from the other side. No matter if they come from east or west at some point these giant King Crab will be roaming the ESAS seeking all they may devour.

In addition to the deliberately introduced King Crabs other species are being accidentally transplanted to the Arctic seas as well and once established trying to get rid of them is almost pointless. This story got my attention because Zebra and Quagga mussels came into the Great Lakes accidentally in ballast water and massively changed the ecosystem where I live. The continental shelf is basically continuous from northern Greenland and going west all the way around the Arctic to Great Britain. The only substantial break is two openings between Iceland and Great Britain and between Iceland and Greenland. Even at that though the basin lip is lower than the continental shelf its actually only a few hundred feet deeper and some continental shelf dwelling species may be able to cross these two gaps as well.

Among the participants on board for this leg of the trip was Kim Howland, a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who joined C3 to continue a DNA sampling study that has been part of the expedition's science mission since its voyage began in June.

Unlike the easy-to-spot passengers from the Crystal Serenity, the visitors that Dr. Howland is most concerned about are hidden invaders that could soon be arriving in these waters as climate change opens the doors to increased maritime traffic.

Dr. Howland's focus is on the invasive species that can travel across oceans in the ballast water of commercial ships and that have a devastating impact when they arrive in places where they don't belong.

"The Arctic hasn't had to face this problem until now," said Dr. Howland, who is part of DFO's Arctic Research Division, based in Winnipeg. "But with ongoing warming and declines in sea ice making these waters more navigable – and more hospitable – it's a real concern."

The DNA study Dr. Howland and her colleagues is conducting is aimed at giving scientists and officials a fair warning about precisely what is coming to Canada's northern seas. Rather than look for individual specimens of an invading species which may or may not be present, the study scoops up free-floating DNA from the water, searching for genetic traces of animals that are not native to the region. Because the C3 ship is making one continuous trip through the Arctic from east to west, it can provide a snapshot of where things stand in each region and how those regions compare.

For those who live along the Great Lakes, where zebra mussels have been a scourge since they arrived in the 1980s, the problem of invasive species is not new. Similarly, Atlantic Canada has been coping with its share of interlopers. They include the European green crab, a tenacious predator that out-competes native species and can have a destabilizing effect on intertidal ecosystems – all to the detriment to local fisheries. Another threat is the common periwinkle, a type of sea snail that also originated in Europe, and which the strains the marine food chain by eating all the algae in sight, as well as transmitting a parasite that affects fish.

Historically, these and other creatures were not deemed a threat to Arctic waters, as it was presumed the harsh conditions there would prohibit their growth. But Dr. Howland has just co-authored a modelling study which suggests that this is no longer the case for some potential invaders, and it will become less so as time goes on.

"The motivation was to try to understand the threat of the arrival of new species in a region where we don't have too much information," said Jesica Goldsmit, a postdoctoral researcher with DFO and lead author of the study, which was accepted for publication last week in the journal Biological Invasions.

In the study, the researchers looked at how eight invasive species might fare in the Arctic 50 years from now based on climate forecasts. The result: "We're predicting that all the species we modelled would survive," Dr. Howland said. While the degrees to which the species are likely to migrate northward vary, all of them would find a suitable habitat somewhere in the Arctic by the end of the 50-year run, the model shows. And all of them pose a threat to the ecosystem and traditional ways of life.

One of the locations at highest risk is the relatively warmer Hudson Bay, which is considered an Arctic ecosystem even though it dips well below the Arctic Circle. Another is the Beaufort Sea, above the coast of Alaska and Western Canada, which is open to shipping coming up through the Bering Strait.

Less clear is what will happen among the maze of channels and islands that makes up the central portion of Canada's High Arctic – also known as the Kitikmeot region – where the marine biology is far less explored. This is part of what has motivated Dr. Howland and other researchers who are participating in the C3, as well as others who are conducting studies in the area. And it's clear there is little time left to gather the baseline data before region is further transformed by warming temperatures and increased shipping traffic.

Sea and land alike are affected by climate change. Jeff Saarela, a botanist and director of the Canadian Museum of Nature's Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration, was also on the C3 last week, armed with a permit to collect plants as part of the expedition. Taking advantage of the ship's frequent stops in places that few scientists have ever been able to access, he spent much of the voyage with his knees in the dirt, trowel in hand, extracting specimens.

"We know the Arctic is the fastest-warming part of the planet, and we know that species are responding," Dr. Saarela said. "To document when something has moved, you have to know what was there before."

Along the voyage there were hints of the transformation to come. After leaving Cambridge Bay, expedition leaders nosed their ship west and south to the now uninhabited hamlet of Bathurst Inlet.

More on the Canadian study taking place HERE
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