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Planet Earth

Invaders Settle In

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerSeptember 9, 2008 10:15 AM


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I live near the Long Island Sound, in a landscape overrun with invaders from all over the world. My wife spends her free time ripping out Japanese knotweed from our garden. The Connecticut salt marshes are overrun with invasive Phragmites reeds. Starlings descend on us like a hail storm. So I found it intriguing to discover some scientists who don't consider invasive species to be all that big a deal compared to other effects we're having on the environment, like habitat destruction and climate change. In today's Science Times section of the New York Times, I have an article about some of their recent research, and their critics who think they're missing the true dangers of invasives. The article was not based merely on vented spleen. There have been a number of papers published on this issue in recent years. Here are a few... Dov Sax and Steven Gaines, "Species Invasions and Extinctions: The Future of Native Biodiversity On Islands." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105 Suppl 1:11490-7. Epub 2008 Aug 11. TJ Stohlgren et al, "The Myth of Plant Species Saturation." Ecol Lett. 2008 Apr;11(4):313-22; discussion 322-6. Epub 2008 Jan 31. Dov Sax et al, "Ecological and evolutionary insights from species invasions," Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Sep;22(9):465-71. Epub 2007 Jul 20. Mark Vellend et al, "Effects of exotic species on evolutionary diversification." Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Sep;22(9):481-8. Epub 2007 Mar 7. Anthony Ricciardi, "Are modern biological invasions an unprecedented form of global change?" Conserv Biol. 2007 Apr;21(2):329-36.

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