Exec’s Blog: What Keeps YOU Up at Night?

Okay, so Laura Meyerson, a URI assistant professor with interests in invasive species, ecological restoration, and public policy asked me what I thought were the worst invasive species in Rhode Island. She was getting ready to talk to a reporter, which explained the naive tone of the question. But it got me thinking, what would you learn if you polled various people working in the fields of ecology, natural history, environmental management and conservation, etc.? I’m not sure you’d learn much about the relative effect of various invasive species, but I bet you’d get some great information on which species have a psychological impact, why, and on whom. This could be useful for any of us engaged in public outreach or who fund raise around the invasive species issue.

And so in a spirit of exploration, I share with you a slightly annotated inventory of the baddies in my ecological anxiety closet and invite you to submit your own by commenting on this post or by emailing RINHS at info@rinhs.org. In keeping with the spirit of the original question, we’re not setting any ground rules. Folk taxonomies are to be encouraged, in fact, so list however many you want, grouped in what ever categories help you to make sense of what’s going on out there, and there are no demerits for mangling the names, latin or otherwise (I sure hope not, looking at my list).

David Gregg’s list:

My vote for worst already here, in no particular order (and excluding deep history, e.g. green crab, periwinkle, dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, etc.):
Japanese Knotweed
Russian/Autumn Olive
Japanese Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus (De Haan, 1853))
Asiatic Bittersweet
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid
Didemnum (spp)

Bad things that only just got here, not a clear, big impact yet:
Water Chestnut
Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium)
Asian Clam (Corbicula fluminea)

Bad things not here yet but its only a matter of time:
Zebra Mussel
Emerald Ash Borer
Chinese Mitten Crab
Mile-a-Minute Vine
Snakehead fish
Spiny Water Flea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi)
“Didymo” or “Rock Snot” (Didymosphenia geminata)

Bad things not here yet (or not established) but likely to get a boost with global warming
maybe Nutria
Water Hyacinth
Giant Salvinia
Fire Ant

Other bad things already here that I chose not to list as #1 but where
intelligent minds may disagree:
Phragmites australis
Privet (spp)
Norway Maple
Myriophyllum (spp) e.g. Eurasian Water Milfoil and Parrot Feather
Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)
Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)
Multiflora Rose
Rugosa Rose
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.)

Things that we’re currently ignoring but shouldn’t be:
bamboo (spp)
Chinese Silver Grass, Zebra Grass, or Eulalia (Miscanthus sinensis etc.)

So send in your thoughts. If we get a lot of feedback maybe we’ll do a more formal poll.

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