Non-native species don’t always cause damage in new areas that they colonize. However, if and when they do, they could potentially cause billions of dollars of damage. Invasive species have also been linked to the decline of four in every 10 endangered or threatened species in the United States.
A study in Nature Communications this past Feb shows that species are spreading exponentially outside of their native ranges. From Science:
“A team of researchers from across Europe, Asia, and the United States combed through more than 500 years of records from scientific publications, books, and unpublished works taken from more than 280 countries and islands. The documents revealed the very first sightings of alien species in each region, from squirrels to mosquitoes. Altogether, the scientists found 16,926 records of alien species of plant, mammal, insect, bird, and fish […]
Then, the team analyzed the speed at which new incursions were taking place, broken down by major taxonomic groups. Since 1800, that speed has increased for all groups, with the absolute number of new species reaching 1.5 sightings per day in 1996. Part of this is inevitably because of better recordkeeping over time, says Mark Hoddle, an entomologist at the University of California (UC), Riverside, who was not involved in the work. But Hoddle, who directs the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, adds that the key trends are not surprising.
The introduction of nonnative plants exploded in the 1800s thanks to the growth of globalized trade, and it has remained high ever since. Mammals and fish peaked around 1950. But other groups, including algae, mollusks, and insects rose steeply after 1950, thanks to climate change and the post–World War II wave of global trade. For those plants and animals that can easily stow away in the ballast of ships, there is a strong correlation between the spread of nonnative species and the market value of goods imported into each region.”
Biosecurity measures seem to be helping but as Margaret Stanley, an ecologist at the University of Auckland who was not involved in the new analysis, adds, “The challenge now is to set policies that prevent more inconspicuous nonnative species from becoming established.”
In Singapore, the brown anole, Norops sagrei, is one of the recent alien species that sneaked into the country with imported plants [Tan & Lim, 2012]. Native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and some adjacent islands in the Caribbean, the species was recorded for the 1st time in Gardens by the Bay. The authors conclude:
“The possible ecological impact from feral brown anoles in Singapore is unknown. At the time of writing, the species seems to be confined to the Marina Bay area, which is an artificial habitat planted with mostly ornamental vegetation. The anole’s preference of exposed scrubland and gardens should enable it to spread beyond the Marina Bay area. However, this should also prevent the anoles from penetrating dense forest at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve where most of Singapore’s small native lizards with similar habits, such as Aphaniotis fusca and Eutropis rugifera, are locally confined. Its effect on native fauna in Singapore remains to be seen, and is worthy of study. Its interaction with the changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor), another introduced species with similar habitat requirements, would be of particular interest. The anoles provide interesting diurnal activity to the gardens, and can probably be tolerated.
Eradication of these lizards may be an option before they spread further, but it would be difficult considering their small size and great agility. The population can probably be restricted to the Marina Bay area by creating barriers on the landward sides, and ensuring that individuals are not inadvertently transported out among plant debris.”
Cool jobs in Pittsburgh!
Carnegie Museum of Natural History is advertising two full time academic positions:
ASSISTANT CURATOR OF AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES Responsibilities include original scientific research involving the biology of amphibians and reptiles in such areas as systematics, evolutionary biology, ecology, conservation biology, especially but not limited to work involving consequences of anthropogenic change. 1311-ft-assistant-curator-of-amphibians-and-reptiles
POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW, INTERIM CURATOR, ANTHROPOCENE (2-year fixed term, renewable) The position’s primary responsibility is to work with the Director and the Director’s senior leadership, the museum’s science staff, as well as Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh central staff to develop an intellectual and infrastructural framework for the new Center for Anthropocene Studies. 1312-ft-post-doctoral-fellow-interim-curator-anthropocene
The museum consists of 115,000 square feet organized into 30 galleries as well as space for research, library, and administration. It over 22 million specimens, of which about 10,000 are on view at any given time and about 1 million…
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Frans de Waal will be visiting Yale-NUS College next week and there will be talks/discussion. Frans is a renowned primatologist and ethologist.
6th Mar 2017 – President Speaker Series (Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? @1830 hrs, Performance Hall, Yale-NUS College). <http://fransdewaal.peatix.com/>
8th Mar 2017 – Panel discussion (Being human: Ethics, religion and our ancestry @ 1830 hrs; Reception: 1800 hrs, Performance Hall, Yale-NUS College). <http://beinghuman.peatix.com/>
“In our haste to argue that animals are not people, we have forgotten that people are animals, too.”
“Microbial March” is a living fermentation lab that invites everyone to come and learn about the art and science of food fermentation and to reconnect with their bodies and their environment through microbes.
Fermentation – a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases, and alcohols by using microbial cultures (so-called “fermentation starter cultures”) – has been known as a traditional food making technique since the Neolithic Age.
After a short introductory talk about microbes + fermentation and their social, environmental, and health impacts, lab visitors will be invited to engage in a collaborative hands-on making of various cultured foods and drinks.
Everyone is welcomed to bring and share fermentation ingredients, starter cultures, as well as traditional fermentation wisdom and recipes known in their country, neighborhood or family. Along with the exchange of various cultures, both in the literal and metaphorical sense, we will discuss various fermentation-related issues as well as the globally growing inter-cultural tensions.
The event is co-organized by the FabCafe Singapore, The Singapore Eco Film Festival and the Fermentation GutHub group.
Time: 730 to 930 pm
Venue: ArtScience Museum
#2 (Starter) Culture Exchange
There will be milk kefir grains from New Zealand; various yeasts from USA; kombucha SCOBYs from Singapore; and some random surprise starters + everyone is invited to bring samples of fermentation cultures, foods, drinks, recipes, ideas etc.
#3 Make Your Own Jar (Hands-on Workshop)
Collaborative hands-on fermentation: Basic vegetable pickling + yogurt & milk kefir making + kombucha brewing etc.
We will experiment with different teas and sugar levels (kombucha), salt ratios (veggies), additional ingredients (e.g. mango in kefir). The finished jars can stay in Fab Café to sit and ferment (there will be a follow-up tasting session in 2 weeks – exact date TBC). Everyone is also welcomed to bring her/his jars home of course!
#4. Fermented Dancefloor & Late Night Fermentation Vibes (**Free Movement of Cultures**)
Playlist under construction -> add your ideas here: http://bit.ly/2lYI0cT
Entry is free —> BYOjars, foods, cultures, and other friends
For more info and updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/1275463755881579/
One of the newest organizations we’re excited about, the mission of 500 Women Scientists
is to promote a diverse and inclusive scientific community that brings progressive science-based solutions to local and global challenges.
What we love especially are their values, many that we share. We list theirs here and are working on ours (coming soon!):
- Recognizing that science touches the lives of every person on this planet;
- Advocating for a strong role of science in society;
- Identifying and acknowledging structural inequities and biases in science;
- Pushing for equality and standing up to inequality, discrimination, and aggression;
- Pushing to develop and strengthen access for traditionally underrepresented groups to fully participate in and become leaders in science;
- Supporting the education and careers of all scientists;
- Enhancing scientific mentorship and encouraging an atmosphere of collaboration;
- Stepping outside of our research disciplines to communicate our science and engage with the public;
- Using the language and wonder of science to bridge the divides that separate societies and to enhance global diplomacy.
Check out the interview with Maryam Zaringhalam, a molecular biologist who describes herself as “floating at the intersection of art x science x society x advocacy x STEMinism”. She talks about her various interests and activities, and her insights as an Iranian-American on the recent travel ban. Great read!
The 2nd edition of EarthFest will be at Marina Barrage with lots to do!
Every year millions of tons of plastics end up in our oceans, the same waters that we fish from. Microplastics have been found in the seafood sold for human consumption, and you can learn more about this problem at EarthFest at a screening of A Plastic Ocean (320 to 520pm). If you missed the film at last year’s SGEFF, here’s another chance to catch it! Get your tickets at: http://plasticocean.peatix.com