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Orange pore fungus: an invasive species 

When speaking of invasive organisms is common to think of plants and animals, but not in fungus, perhaps because there are few studies that address the issue of geographic dispersal in this group of organisms. 

The fact is that fungi can also be dispersed, as they have a medium, their spores, through which the genetic material of the fungus can be taken to new places and successfully establish, whether be it transported by natural elements (water, wind, birds) or accidentally by man.

The beautiful Orange pore fungus, Favolaschia calocera (Mycenaceae), is one of those fungi that has spread beyond its native range distribution. This saprotrophic fungus occurs naturally in Madagascar and parts of southern Asia. It was first reported as an exotic New Zealand in the 1950s, and is now common throughout the North Island and the north western regions of the South Island.

Genetic studies also revealed that it may have also been introduced to Kenya, Norfolk Island and Réunion Island. In 2002 it was also reported from Italy. In 2005 it was recorded for the first time in south eastern Australia, and currently it has been reported also in North America (Brazil) and the Hawaiian islands.

Because it is spreading, it needs to be monitored due to the potential ecological impacts of its introduction, since it is a saprotrophic fungi. Whether it may displace native fungi is still uncertain, as in both New Zealand and Italy it appears to be more abundant in remnant or disturbed habitats.

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Bernard Spragg | Locality: Ruakaka, Northland, New Zealand]  -  [Bottom: ©Marco Bertolini | Locality: unknown]

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Australian Spotted Jellyfish - Phyllorhiza punctata - A beautiful but annoying invader

Phyllorhiza punctata (Rhizostomae - Mastigiidae) is a large jellyfish with a rounded and somewhat flattened gelatinous bell that is clear or possibly tinted brown with many small white crystalline refractive spots close to the surface. 

P. punctata is a coastal and estuarine jellyfish whose wide native distribution includes Australia and much of the Indo-Pacific including the Philippine archipelago. 

This species was recorded only from Indo-Pacific waters prior to the 1950s.  Since 1995 there are several reports of populations of the Australian Spotted Jellyfish in the Atlantic (Brazil), Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the East Pacific (California), where the species is considered introduced, invasive and nuisance, impacting fisheries, injuring swimmers, and clogging the intakes of power plants, among other effects. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Ray Froend | Locality: Swan River, Western Australia (2007)

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This is what happens when someone who doesn’t understand science tries to put a positive spin on global warming. 

(above image from a Daily Caller article.) 

The study’s lead author responds: 

No, our study shows nothing of the kind! It is a complete distortion of what we say, and I had no idea this story was running.

[…]

What we do show is that despite indisputable loss of biodiversity at the scale of the planet, in most places we detect a change in the species that live there, rather than loss of species everywhere. We suggest that part of this is caused by species migrating towards the poles in response to climate change, and part to invasive species replacing local species.

[…]

There is nothing in our paper to even suggest that climate change is beneficial for biodiversity.

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Sharks being trained to eat invasive lionfish

Honduras - Working with park officials, local divers are attempting to give sharks a taste for the alien reef species, which are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. With no natural predators, lionfish populations have exploded throughout the waters of the Caribbean and U.S. Southeast since their accidental introduction by aquarium hobbyists a decade ago.

Lionfish can take over seafloor and reef habitat and establish densities of more than 200 adults per acre. A mature female lionfish produces some two million eggs every year, and those eggs and larvae are carried far and wide by currents—fuelling an ongoing invasion.

“At the beginning, the divers just killed lionfish and fed sharks with them to get the sharks to develop a taste,” said photographer Antonio Busiello, who observed the process in action.

“In the second step, to have the sharks develop an interest in hunting them, divers started to leave wounded lionfish so that the sharks could taste them. After a while, the sharks did start to hunt them and go after them.”

Living up to their voracious reputations, many sharks can eat venomous prey, such as lionfish, and suffer no apparent ill effects, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Article and image source

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Scientists might do something drastic to save the Galapagos from rats

As scientists develop new gene engineering techniques like CRISPR, it’s becoming easier and easier to edit DNA. Conservationists are considering using such methods to reverse one of the ills humans have helped perpetrate on nature: invasive rats on isolated islands like the Galapagos.

This idea raises a new question: Should we genetically engineer rats so they’re eliminated from the archipelago?

Giant Goldfish Invade Lake Tahoe

It may sound like a science-fiction plot, but, as Univ. of Nevada, Reno researchers have discovered, giant goldfish are among the non-native fish species living in Lake Tahoe, which straddles the Nevada-California state line.

Research conducted by university faculty and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has shown the Tahoe Keys, on the lake’s south shore, is the primary spawning area for non-native, warm-water fish. The environmental concern is that these invaders damage the habitat for native fish. For example, in the Tahoe Keys, the establishment of non-native fish has virtually eliminated the native minnow population.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/02/giant-goldfish-invade-lake-tahoe

Snakehead (Channidae)

Known to be incredibly tough, Snakeheads can become invasive species and cause ecological damage because they are top-level predators, meaning they have no natural enemies outside of their native environment. Not only can they breathe atmospheric air, but they can also survive on land for up to four days, provided they are wet, and are known to migrate up to ¼ mile on wet land to other bodies of water by wriggling with their body and fins.

Scotch Broom - Cytisus scoparius

Cytisus scoparius (Fabales - Fabaceae) is a shrub that grows wild all over England, temperate Europe and northern Asia, being found in abundance on sandy pastures and heaths. It is sparingly naturalized in sandy soil in North America.

Although it has beautiful flowers, the Scotch Broom is an invasive plant that competes with native species for available light, moisture and nutrients, especially on disturbed sites.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Charlee Bear | Locality: Gardenview Horticultural Park, Strongsville, Ohio (2007)

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Native to the Indo-Pacific, the venomous lionfish are an invasive scourge along the East Coast of the U.S. Watch these deadly beauties from a safe distance in our Armored and Venomous exhibit!

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