Jul 042010
 
Close-up of a typical shell of a zebra mussel
Image via Wikipedia

Employing everything from love potion to meat-eating ants, scientists try to stem the influx of new invasive species with some “creative” ideas

Some floated here on boats. Others flew. Still others arrived on the sole of a dirty boot. Many were invited, but some arrived unannounced. At this point, however, no one really cares how so-called alien species like the ash borer and the zebra mussel got here. Scientists are more focused on how to get rid of these pests.

Not every alien species becomes invasive, but those that do can wreak serious havoc. They eat or out-compete native species. They clog waterways and cover coral reefs. They reproduce wildly and turn once-diverse ecosystems into single species monocultures. In one extreme example the introduction of the invasive Nile perch into Lake Victoria in Africa in the 1960s led to the disappearance of as many as 200 native cichlids. In the U.S. a fast-growing Japanese vine called kudzu has blanketed large portions of the Southeast, knocking down trees and smothering native species under its dense canopy.

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