Re: NANFA-- exotic species impact

Mark (
Thu, 27 May 2004 10:28:25 -0400

At 9:22 AM -0400 5/27/04, Nick Zarlinga wrote:
>A surprisingly simple question came up this morning. Have there been any
>native species that have become endangered or threatened by the release of
>an introduced species, whether through the aquarium trade or otherwise?

He, he, that's a good one! The only exotic species I can think of
that has caused such drastic declines in other species in Homo
sapiens... guess that makes me a tree hugging eco-nazi.

Not fish, but I think that brown snake has done a number on the birds
of several Pacific islands. I don't know whether the birds had
already been decimated by exotic Homo sapiens or not. I think the
ones in the Pacific (the Homo sapiens) are _especially_ exotic!
Guess that makes me a racist :)

Really I think this whole snakehead debacle is a lot of hype. One
year's spawn in one small pond in Maryland does not an exotic
invasion make. I don't think that there is any evidence that
snakeheads are likely to persist in the degraded waterways that are
so prevalent on this continent. Guess that makes me a right wing

Clearly, there are species that are adaptable enough to quickly
populate even the most degraded systems: bighead carp, round goby,
common carp. I no longer buy the company line that common carp are a
scourge on native fishes. I think they are just adaptable
opportunists that are able to take advantage of the degraded niches
that native species can no longer tolerate. I'd like to hear about a
healthy system into which carp were introduced where they were able
to propagate prolifically and really outcompete natives for
resources, or damage the system such that natives declined. I'm not
saying exotics can't be bad, I'm just saying we need to make
decisions based on actual facts rather than popular prejudice. I
place responsibility for species decline where it is due: on poor
stewardship by exotic Homo sapiens. There is no greater threat or
culprit in this. Back to tree hugging I guess. :)

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