Last week, a group of researchers published saddening news about "sudden oak death," spread by an invasive water mold, that has killed over a million trees in coastal California. The pathogen, they found, simply cannot be stopped — though it can still be contained, and the harm mitigated. But it is too extensively established now in California to eradicate.
Imported forest pests cause billions of dollars in damages each year, and U.S. property owners and municipalities foot most of the bill. Efforts to prevent new pests are not keeping pace with escalating trade and must be strengthened if we are to slow the loss of our nation’s trees. So reports a team of 16 scientists in a new paper published online today in the journal Ecological Applications.
More and more often, we hear about the arrival of a foreign plant or insect that is wreaking havoc on our native ecosystems. Take, for example, the Emerald Ash Borer, which will likely decimate all the ash trees in our forests.
The Harvard Forest, in collaboration with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, has launched a new Science Policy Exchange project on forest pests and pathogens. This project addresses growing concerns about damage to trees, forests, and local economies caused by introduced insects.
Are invasive species killing us? This question must sound a little over the top if you think that invasive species are just garden pests, but history is filled with examples where they've killed humans.