Please Explain: Invasive Species

Friday, February 12, 2010

Growing global trade means more bugs and plants end up where they don’t belong, causing widespread environmental damage. On today’s Please Explain, we’ll learn how invasive species—from Asian purple loosestrife to the Colorado potato beetle—can wreak havoc when they’re accidentally imported to a new environment. We’re joined by Robert F. C. Naczi, Curator of North American Botany at the New York Botanical Garden; Jessica Arcate Schuler, Manager of the Forest, at the New York Botanical Garden; and Thomas M.Grothues, assistant research professor at Rutgers University.


Thomas M.Grothues, and Jessica Arcate Schuler,

Comments [17]

Pat Fantulin from Bergen County, NJ

For information about identifying and combatting invasive species in your local parks and yards, see, or

Your local and national wildlife refuges need your help to fight these invaders. Helping can be as simple as reporting their presence in your yard to your local cooperative extension office, or you can do more - organize a community weed pull!

Feb. 12 2010 02:34 PM
anton marcoussi from ny metro region

About 20 (?) years ago, 4 or 6 deer were introduced to Block Island, RI, a small island resembling upside-down South America with Brazil being a harbor. Max dimensions are 5 mi. x 3 mi. Recently the deer population, having no natural enemies, grew to an astounding 300. People cannot garden or grow vegetables without surrounding their property with an 8 ft fence (preferable closed off at the top). Deer, vectors for lyme disease, sicken the population and unlucky visitors; deer crash into cars, causing bodily and property damage. They are an invasive species par excellence which other NE islands have eradicated; BI has had a divided opinion but it seems slowly to shift toward total eradication.

Feb. 12 2010 02:05 PM
Patrick King from Philadelphia

If you do happen to do a follow up I'd love to hear what you know about the Coho Salmon introduced into Lake Michigan in the 1970s. My hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, every beach on the lake was covered in Alewives, which I believe were invasive. Millions of Coho Salmon were introduced and the Alewives disappeared.

The Coho grew to record sizes and the lake was cleaned in the process. Of course now you can't eat too much of the Coho. Mercury, PCBs, etc.

Feb. 12 2010 02:01 PM
Debbie from Queens

I just read this morning that we should eat more Asian Carp to help alleviate the over-population of this non-native species. Is this a good solution? If so, how fantastic for there to be a species we should eat, since we are over fishing so many species in the ocean.

Feb. 12 2010 01:56 PM
heather from long island city

what about stink bugs!! i keep hear about them from the south? are they comming to ny and what will they do?

Feb. 12 2010 01:56 PM
John Smith from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I was hoping to be able to attach a picture to this comment. I have a terrifically resilient weed that grows all around my house in Hancock, MA (in the Berkshires of MA). I sent an email to the lopateshow email address with the picture.

Can your guests help me identify and hopefully - get rid of it once and for all?

Thanks, and great show!

Feb. 12 2010 01:55 PM
Steph from Brooklyn

Clearly we have made mistakes in the introduction of invasive species, but are there means by which we can *foresee* these problems?

Feb. 12 2010 01:54 PM
Mary E from New York

I grew up in Mississippi and one of my father's greatest accomplishments was to successfully do battle with the kudzu which got started in the alley behind our house. It took him decades.

Feb. 12 2010 01:48 PM
ted from manhattan

check out:

Feb. 12 2010 01:46 PM
sandee from queens

a chef down in Louisiana is working on developing Asian Carp cuisine of some sort - at some point, they are edible, and who are their native predators in Asia? And capitalist culture does have a habit of exploiting resources, so in this case, that would be overfishing, if we find a few popular dishes for this particular carp.

Feb. 12 2010 01:38 PM
Penny from Downtown Manhattan

What is the invasive English Ivy that is upsetting forest activists in Oregon? What is its relation to the ornamental Hedera varieties we want?

Feb. 12 2010 01:36 PM
Gianna Chachere from New Orleans

Is your guest familiar with the nutria, which is destroying the wetlands of Southern Louisiana?

Feb. 12 2010 01:31 PM
nat from Brooklyn

Do species that are native to the North American land mass that have spread from their ancestral habitats due to human ecological meddling count as invasive?

I'm thinking particularly of the NYC coyotes in the news. Coyotes that were once confined to the western deserts, but have been spreading eastward as wolves and mountain lions were killed off, leaving them able to become top level predators (not counting humans who are the ultimate predator), where they are not preyed upon by larger predators.

Feb. 12 2010 01:26 PM
Jason from Manhattan

The house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, is a terrifying thing to see, but I've noticed that predator's appearance in my Harlem house has eliminated nearly all other insects such as cockroaches, ants, spiders, etc. Aren't these insects native to Mediterranean lands, not the Americas? Should I welcome them or try eliminating them.

Feb. 12 2010 12:27 PM
Steven from Jersey City, NJ

Can your guests talk about how they develop ecological baselines by which they compare the current state or severity of invasions?

Feb. 12 2010 12:23 PM
Cynthia Sumner from Englewood, NJ

Could your guests talk about some of the non-native, plants which were brought here on purpose as ornamentals but are now invasive and displacing natives?

Some of these such as the Norway maple, burning bush (Euonymus alata "Compactus"), Japanese barberry are commonly used in suburban landscapes and continue to be sold in local plant nurseries.

Feb. 12 2010 12:08 PM
George from Bay Ridge

Can your guests talk about the Asian carp problem?

Feb. 12 2010 10:40 AM

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