Invasive Species

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chumley
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Invasive Species

Post by chumley » Nov 03 2011 9:54 am

So I read this article yesterday on a 16-foot Burmese Python devouring a deer in the Florida Everglades ... yes, a deer :o

The article says that the python has the potential to alter the ecosystem because it is non-native and has no natural predator in the Everglades. (Which makes me wonder what it's natural predator is in Myanmar —formerly Burma?)

Anyway, it made me wonder about Arizona's own invasive fauna. The only one I can really think of is the stupid crawfish in some of our creeks. And I think there's a problem with different species of fish in the White Mtns that are taking over for the Apache Trout. Are there any others of note? (besides cattle, obviously).

Here's the article if you're interested:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/01/us/florida-python-deer/
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azdesertfather
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by azdesertfather » Nov 03 2011 9:20 pm

Speaking of invasive species, I'm organizing a group of volunteers together on Saturday morning in Tucson (9-noonish) to pull bufflegrass for the city. I asked where they wanted to target, and this was the area they are asking for.

If anyone is interesting in helping, feel free to PM me and let me know...

Location/directions:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Presidio+ ... 17&vpsrc=0

Please park on the cul de sac known as Presidio Circle, which can be accessed via Ft. Lowell, south on Treat, east on Presidio Road and then north on Presidio Circle. The wash is accessed via a pedestrian trail from the cul de sac. If you are coming from Tucson Blvd, turn east on Hedrick, which changes its name to Presidio at Treat, then north on Presidio Circle
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azbackpackr
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by azbackpackr » Nov 04 2011 6:44 am

I pulled a lot of camel thorn at one of the beaches last summer on my river trip in Grand Canyon. Partly because right where I was wanting to sleep there were pernicious little seedlings of them, and I like to go barefoot. Very nasty thorns. The Park Service has a webpage about invasive plants in the Canyon, and it has a sample postcard they would like to receive if you would like to report to them what you have removed, where and when. I haven't done that for the camel thorn at Indian Canyon, but I guess I could.

Interestingly regarding eucalyptus, back in 2003 during the horrific Cedar Fire in San Diego, I was surprised to see that when the houses at Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo burned, many of the eucs did not burn, at least, not as readily as the homes. (San Diego is my home town.) This photo gallery of the Cedar Fire is incredible. It does show some burned eucs, but you can also see where homes burned and eucs next to them didn't burn.
http://interwork.sdsu.edu/fire/photo_ga ... Photos.htm
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gummo
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by gummo » Nov 04 2011 8:44 am

Invasive species that I know of off the top of my head. A lot of small critters, as larger animals don't fair well in the heat. Also, elk are native (source AZFGD).

Wild pigs, donkeys, and horses.

A lot of water turtle including soft-shelled turtles, red-bellies, painted turtles, etc. (too many to name)

tiger salamanders

mediterranean geckos (from what I hear, they're only in Yuma)

crayfish

several trout species and carp (again too many to name)

bullfrogs and other frogs (too many to name)

house flies, cockroaches, fire ants, and various rodents and insects (too many to name)

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wallyfrack
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by wallyfrack » Nov 04 2011 8:53 am

gummo wrote:A lot of water turtle including soft-shelled turtles, red-bellies, painted turtles, etc. (too many to name)
I kinda figured someone released the turtles that are in La Barge and Charlebois Springs.

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gummo
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by gummo » Nov 04 2011 9:21 am

wallyfrack wrote:
gummo wrote:A lot of water turtle including soft-shelled turtles, red-bellies, painted turtles, etc. (too many to name)
I kinda figured someone released the turtles that are in La Barge and Charlebois Springs.
I've only seen Sonoran Mud Turtles in those areas, which are native, but I haven't been there since 2006.

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BobP
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by BobP » Nov 04 2011 9:29 am

gummo wrote: Also, elk are native (source AZFGD).
As with many game species in Arizona, elk hunting has had its ups and downs. With native elk having been extirpated, the closed season imposed by the territorial legislature in 1893 was too little too late. The releases of Yellowstone elk between 1913 and 1929 were successful, however, and in 1935 the population was deemed sufficient to support a limited, 266-permit bull hunt. source AZFGD

extirpation, is the condition of a species (or other taxon) which ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere
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SkyIslander18
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by SkyIslander18 » Nov 04 2011 9:48 am

Game & Fish 10 most unwanted invasive species: Plants & Animals -
http://www.azgfd.net/wildlife/conservat ... 009/05/27/

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Jim_H
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by Jim_H » Nov 04 2011 10:16 am

If they had a use, they wouldn't be invasive exotics, they would crops, or grazing animals. Cattle, Yellowstone Elk, Humans, and so on, we just need to find a use for them.
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gummo
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by gummo » Nov 04 2011 10:30 am

rlrjamy wrote:
gummo wrote: Also, elk are native (source AZFGD).
As with many game species in Arizona, elk hunting has had its ups and downs. With native elk having been extirpated, the closed season imposed by the territorial legislature in 1893 was too little too late. The releases of Yellowstone elk between 1913 and 1929 were successful, however, and in 1935 the population was deemed sufficient to support a limited, 266-permit bull hunt. source AZFGD

extirpation, is the condition of a species (or other taxon) which ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere
Thank you for the information. I should clarify that, in my opinion, introducing a species (even if it's a sub-species and/or from another area) to an area which it once occupied it's not an exotic or invasive species. To me, it's just re-populating and restoring the habitat.

Also, I noticed that elk populations are not listed to be in the Pinalenos. Upon my last visit, I swore that I ran into a herd there, but I wasn't able to photograph them. I'll have to go back and see if I run into them again.

Also, European and Africanized honey bees are exotic.

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chumley
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by chumley » Nov 04 2011 10:56 am

This is a tough one for me. If there's one constant in the natural world, it's change. While I agree that we peeps have a far greater impact than many other factors, think of severe natural events that change a habitat.

A meteor exploded over Siberia. Tsunamis wipe out entire coastlines. Hurricanes create barren islands where tropical forests once stood. Floods re-route rivers, and create or change river deltas. Volcanic explosions decimate thousands of square miles while polluting the atmosphere in a way humans couldn't possibly duplicate. We are just beginning to grasp how significant oceanic conditions affect climatic events....

In the process of events like those, the environment changes. Certain animals perish. New ones flourish. Did every animal on every island exist there by man visiting on a boat?

Are pythons having an "adverse" affect on the everglades ecosystem? It depends on your view of the ecosystem. Certainly introducing a predator such as that will cause changes. But perhaps there will be positive affects to those changes? Earth introduces "invasive" species on her own. I'm not sure that things are always necessarily "invasive" except that they are "different" than what we have become used to over the relative blink-of-an-eye in time that we have observed a certain spot.
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by Alston_Neal » Nov 04 2011 10:57 am

Not to change the subject but....
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Wally

Sorry back to the thread.
So what about a species that was once here but now reintroduced, like the Mexican wolves.
Are they now invasive?
To some yes.
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SkyIslander18
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by SkyIslander18 » Nov 04 2011 11:02 am

gummo wrote:I noticed that elk populations are not listed to be in the Pinalenos
I have never seen elk in the Pinalenos, but it is my understanding that the western slopes has a herd of 50+ now and last year several were seen up on top at Riggs Flat lake. Also, G&F has been issuing out elk hunt permits for unit 31 (Pinalenos) for several years now.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by azbackpackr » Nov 04 2011 11:18 am

There definitely are elk in the Pinalenos. I have seen them. In fact, they are all over the place where G&F doesn't want them: http://www.azgfd.gov/pdfs/h_f/managemen ... cember.pdf

In the Arrastras, a desert mountain range, believe it or not, there are elk, and and an elk hunt season. The Arrastra Mountain Wilderness is in Western Arizona, not very close to much of anything except Alamo Lake State Park, which also isn't very close to much of anything. It is a desert mountain range administered by the BLM: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/blm_sp ... astra.html

But there are ELK there. Yes, they are introduced. There is a hunt season for them. Some of the government agencies would like to remove them since they are non-native. I went over there to backpack the Bill Williams River Gorge (no relation to Bill Williams Mountain near Flagstaff, by the way.) I went to a hamburger joint that is way out on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and the walls are covered in photos of hunters with their elk. I was pretty amazed about this. So, I found out more about it: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/OTC_ ... ntTips.pdf
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Jim_H
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by Jim_H » Nov 04 2011 11:33 am

ELK=money, so they would almost be everywhere that we could have them, detrimental to the environment or not.
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gummo
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by gummo » Nov 04 2011 12:03 pm

AZWaterRat wrote:
gummo wrote:I noticed that elk populations are not listed to be in the Pinalenos
I have never seen elk in the Pinalenos, but it is my understanding that the western slopes has a herd of 50+ now and last year several were seen up on top at Riggs Flat lake. Also, G&F has been issuing out elk hunt permits for unit 31 (Pinalenos) for several years now.
Good. I'm glad I wasn't seeing things.

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Re: Invasive Species

Post by Dschur » Nov 04 2011 3:25 pm

There was a good example of trying to use un native species to help only to hurt... In Australia they started producing the sugar cane there... Then the cane beetles came.. They then decided to use a "natural" solution and brought over the cane toad to eat the beetles ....well there is no natural enemy for the cane toad and besides they are poisonous to every other species down there....
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by writelots » Nov 05 2011 10:07 pm

Jim_H wrote:If they had a use, they wouldn't be invasive exotics, they would crops, or grazing animals. Cattle, Yellowstone Elk, Humans, and so on, we just need to find a use for them.
Yummm...tamarisk jelly? Bufflegrass shots at the juice bar? Bullfrog legs are really just the beginning - maybe we need to make frog skin the next Italian leather...
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by azbackpackr » Nov 06 2011 6:02 am

:D Tamarisk jelly?

Seriously, tamarisks are a problem in many places, such as the lower Gila River Valley (Mohawk, Tacna, area) since they suck up a lot of water, but in Grand Canyon they have become a part of the ecosystem, and endangered birds nest in them. River runners use them to tie off boats and especially for shade. But they are dying off all along the river. There is a beetle that was experimentally released that eats tammies and kills them, and it is working so well that the Park Service is concerned, because all the tammies in Glen Canyon and also a lot in Marble Canyon have started to die off. The beetle infestation is slowly making its way downstream. The experiment started upstream, somewhere in Utah.

Some biologists have said there are more birds now in Grand Canyon than there used to be, because there are now trees (tamarisk) where there didn't used to be trees. Part of that also has to do with the dam, of course. Even with the experimental "floods" the river never runs 100,000 any more like it used to. If you look at very old photos you'll see there were very few trees, because they were washed away in the big pre-dam floods.

At the Ferry, they have experimented with removing tammies and planting native willows and cottonwoods. The cottonwoods at the private boaters' beach are very nice and shady. But I don't see how they can do that for 281 miles of river. It would be cost-prohibitive. I say, long live tammies!

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Speaking of trees growing in the desert, if you have never run the Diamond Down section of Grand Canyon, you wouldn't believe it until you see it. In far lower Grand Canyon, well below Separation Canyon, where Lake Mead used to be when it was full, there are huge, incredibly deep banks of silt along both sides of the river. This silt supports a forest in the desert. Some places way down near Grand Wash Cliffs this forest is so thick it looks like something on the East Coast. The trees are very large and very green, and grow close together, wherever they can get their roots down to the river water. I am not a tree expert but most of the trees seem to be cottonwoods. Sometimes these silt banks break off, not unlike the calving of glaciers in Glacier Bay, so that as you float by you will see huge chunks of them closer to water level, still with live trees attached, or big swaths of large trees fallen over in a horizontal position, still alive as well.

We floated a lot of this at night on my last trip, although I have floated it by day as well. Doing the night float, which has become very popular, you just turn the boats loose in the current and float down in the dark. It is a highlight of any Grand Canyon trip, especially if there is a moon. At one point, our boat was carried close to the left bank and I had to duck as we passed under a large horizontal cottonwood. That was a little too close for comfort, I thought, since they can fall into the river at any moment, but the boatman wasn't concerned.
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by PaleoRob » Nov 06 2011 11:12 am

My wife works on invasive species at the U of A, and there is a very distinct line between non-native and invasive. Non-native species are not from the area (not talking about re-introduced), but are able to fit into an equilibrium in the ecosystem without causing major floral or faunal damage. Invasive species are non-native species that expand rapidly due to the lack of culling factors (predators, etc.) or the presence of certain ecological factors not found in their home range. The rapid expansion is unchecked and they cause serious floral or faunal damage.
Interestingly I haven't seen anyone mention the invasive species doing the most damage to the environment (and human-made structures) in Arizona, that is also perhaps the closest to Phoenix: quagga mussels. That's what my wife works on, btw.
Also, don't forget the salt cedar and tamarisk. Invasive plants that do some serious damage to the ecosystem. Interestingly, I was reading something about how there used to be a native species of tumbleweed here in the 1200s, so that may not be as invasive as once thought...
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Re: Invasive Species

Post by azbackpackr » Nov 06 2011 2:35 pm

Rob, are you aware that the beetles have apparently killed all the tammies in Glen Canyon, and have started down Marble Canyon? Did you read my diatribe? I'm not sure if the trees are going to spring back after the infestation is over with but the Park Service is apparently unhappy with how well it has been working. Now they are concerned that having all those dead tammies will cause erosion and fires. And some of the bird people say the tammies are habitat for birds.

I have never seen a quagga mussel except in photos. Where can I go look for one?
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