RE: NANFA-- FW: FW: National Invasive Species Act (NISA)

Jay DeLong (
Thu, 29 Aug 2002 14:40:56 -0700

> Thanks Rob, your timing is exquisite! I'm hosting a Conservation Biology
> class this semester as a last-minute thing and I needed some
> recent reads on
> invasive species. The UCS analysis is one of the missing pieces come to
> light.
> --Bruce Stallsmith

Bruce you may be interested in this summary also. If it comes in all
chopped up and ugly (and I bet it will), I'm sorry-- I'm just forwarding it
as I have it. See below:

> From: "Cleary, Ruark" <>
> Reply-To: <>
> Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 17:18:43 -0400
> To: <>
> Subject: [Aliens-L] A Clear and Present Danger
> The "100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species" booklet
> <> has a short overview
> biological invasion that asks, "What happens when a species is introduced
> into an ecosystem where it doesn't occur naturally? Will something special
> lost forever? Does it matter?" It goes on to say, "Today, alien invasion
> second only to habitat loss as a cause of species endangerment and
> extinction." But that, as we have been told, is a myth. The second
> threat to global biodiversity actually is.. uh, ... gee, Matt, what is the
> second greatest threat to the world's biodiversity?
> While we wait for a surely astute and conclusive answer, we can read what
> other "romantics" are saying about invasive species.
> The Union of Concerned Scientists in a recent publication "The National
> Invasive Species Act" <> states:
> "Scientists and environmentalists have worked long and hard to protect
> species and ecosystems from pollution and habitat loss, only to find these
> gains at risk from the unchecked spread of invasive species. Together with
> climate change, invasives are now among the most serious global
> changes underway, causing enormous damage in the United States and around
> world."
> In an earlier publication ("The Science of Invasive Species"
> <>), the UCS
> mentions other human-related causes of extinction: pollution,
> overexploitation,
> and disease; however, habitat destruction is still noted as the greatest
> threat. Habitat "destruction" is probably a better, albeit non-PC, term
> "loss" or "conversion." The paper goes on to say, "invasive species [i]s
> second largest--and probably the fastest growing--threat to biodiversity
> many ecosystems. This was second only to habitat loss as a factor." For
> sake of clarity, it is better to differentiate "loss through conversion"
> "loss through destruction." As this paper states, "loss of species is
> one result of biological invasions--changes in ecosystem structure and
> function and increasing homogenization of unique regional biota are
> All of these factors together point to a conversion of native plant
> communities into an alien landscape, one result of which is a loss of
> plants and animals with a concomitant reduction in biodiversity. The
> soundbite version is still, "The second greatest cause of extinction is
> invasion by alien species."
> In "America's Silent Killer: How Invasive Species Threaten America's
> Wildlife Heritage" <>,
> read: "Regardless of how they get here, through escape or release many of
> these species become free-living populations and cause the degradation and
> destruction of millions of acres of wildlife habitat. Experts believe that
> invasive plants already exist in all 50 states on more than 100 million
> of land and water in the U.S. - an area roughly the size of California -
> that they continue to spread at a rate of about 14 million acres per year.
> According to the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, there
> are at least 4,500 species of foreign plants and animals that have
> established free-living populations throughout the country. Of that total,
> least 675 species, or 15 percent, cause severe harm. In economic terms, 79
> species, or 12 percent, deemed the worst invaders caused documented losses
> $97 billion from 1906 to 1991. Forty-six percent of all federally-listed
> threatened and endangered species are considered at risk primarily due to
> competition with or predation by invasive species. The effects of
> range from wholesale ecosystems changes and extinction of indigenous
> to more subtle ecological changes and increased biological sameness.
> plants harm the environment by damaging soil and water resources, ruining
> fish spawning habitat and crowding out native species."
> The Global Invasive Species Programme (those IUCN guys, again) has said,
> "Alien invasive species have been identified as the leading culprits in
> species extinction, especially on islands. The Global Biodiversity
> (UNEP, 1995) provided considerable detail about the impact of alien
> on biodiversity in virtually all parts of the globe. The Norway-UN
> on Alien Species (Trondheim, July 1996) and the workshop on alien species
> IUCN's World Conservation Congress (Montreal, October 1996) have clearly
> identified alien invasive species as an issue of great concern to the
> conservation community. .. The vast majority of invasives today are either
> transmitted or facilitated by human activity with an economic objective.
> seeking to maximize productivity for human ends, those promoting
> forms of agriculture promote monocultural, energy-intensive farming
> that are the epitome of reductions of variation and loss of resilience.
> spread of agriculture may lead to significant declines in diversity from
> hundreds of species to just one dominant plus accompanying weeds. Many of
> these monocultures are exotic species that can escape the farmer's field
> become invasive." <>
> Not to belabor the obvious, but for the sake of our exotics control
> detractor(s), it is important to say that invasive alien species cause
> measurable harm to man and nature. To attempt to minimize the threat by
> tossing up semantic arguments ("What is natural?") is an egregious offense
> against conservation science. Species are going extinct right now, but we
> -can- do something about it. As to the opening question, "Does it matter?"
> think the unqualified answer is "Yes!" [The qualified answer of some
> economic interests is "Yes, but not as much as making money."]
Admittedly, a
> few tainted biologists will chime in with "Nuh-uh!" But those people need
> see an alienist.
> Cheers,
> Ruark L. "Rook" Cleary
> Upland Weeds Program
> Bureau of Invasive Plant Management
> 3900 Commonwealth Blvd, MS 705
> Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000
> Voice 850-487-2600 x1507
> SunCom 277-2600, Fax 850-488-2216
> <>

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