Welcome to the first edition of Double Trouble, part of the Invasive Species Council’s work raising awareness about the dangers posed by weeds and pest animals to Australia’s natural environment under climate change.
While it’s obvious that climate change will create a world of many losers, there will be winners as well. Native species killed or stressed by climate change will all too often be replaced by weeds and feral animals.
In the race to understand climate change, very few biologists or policy makers are addressing the pest threat. The Invasive Species Council is the main conservation NGO in Australia highlighting the links between invasive species and climate change.
Double Trouble will be a regular ebulletin put out by the Invasive Species Council highlighting current threats and future dangers posed by invasive species to Australia’s natural environment in a warmer, weedier world.
Please take the time to read through the stories, send us feedback, and just as importantly, forward to friends and colleagues interested in protecting our native plants and animals from future threats.
The Invasive Species Council has sounded alarm bells about the potential for serious weed problems to emerge from the recent Victorian bushfires.
The council has written to the Victorian Department of Primary Industries warning that serious weed problems could erupt through the spread of donated fodder, which is being used as feed for starving animals and reportedly being spread within some national parks.
New research is showing that Australia’s most devastating plant disease is likely to cause a massive collapse of native vegetation under climate change in southwestern Australia.
More than 2200 native plant species in southwest WA, including 800 endemics, are considered susceptible to the dieback pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, which kills plants by attacking their roots.
Hawkweeds will be affected by climate change, but not necessarily in the way that any one model predicts.
Weed agencies in Victoria and New South Wales have been trying to eradicate infestations of orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) and king devil hawkweed (H. piloselloides) in the Australian Alps, urging bushwalkers to report sightings.
A weed that has infested more than 5.3 million hectares throughout the Murray-Darling Basin and costs the environment $1.8 billion is being mistakenly sold as a groundcover and low-maintenence lawn species, the National Lippia Working Group has warned.
It says Phyla canescens, a species of lippia responsible for widespread environmental and economic impacts in Australia, is often mistakenly sold in Australian nurseries as Phyla nodiflora, which is not considered an environmental threat at this stage.
Two international airline companies are pressuring the Federal Government to reverse a ban on a weed that can be grown as a biofuel, Jatropha curcas. It is illegal to bring the weed into Australia, and it is banned in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. WA’s 2006 risk assessment found it is weedy in 14 countries
Earlier this year (5 January 2009) the Australian newspaper quoted Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe saying he is “hopeful” Australian authorities will reconsider jatropha’s status now that it has shown fuel potential and hundreds of companies, including some in Australia, are preparing to grow the tree.
When Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett recently launched the Bitou Bush Management Manual, the Invasive Species Council took the opportunity to warn that bitou problems will worsen under climate change.
“Bitou bush already threatens dozens of rare coastal plants and vegetation communities, but under climate change this devastating and highly aggressive weed has the potential for much greater destruction,” ISC Project Officer Tim Low said.
A recent US report reviewing ecological thresholds and climate change has highlighted the potential for interactions between climate change and invasive species to cause abrupt, irreversible changes in ecosystems.
Commissioned by the U.S. Geological Survey the report emphasises the importance of understanding ecological thresholds to develop adaptation strategies for climate change.
A new approach by researchers in predicting the range of invasive species in Australia under climate change shows cane toads are likely to move about 100km further south.
The researchers have also predicted that the toad’s breeding season in northern Australia could be reduced by as much as four months.
Considered in isolation, invasive species and climate change will both have dire impacts on Australian biodiversity. In combination, the consequences could be catastrophic.
As farmers well know, droughts and floods often trigger massive weed invasions. Extreme weather events destroy native vegetation, creating ideal openings for weeds and other pests.
A Federal Government report released late last year has warned Australia needs to invest far more research, funding and public debate into the effects climate change will have on the country’s invasive species.
Written by Tim Low in his former role as a member of the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee, the report Climate Change & Invasive Species: A Review of Interactions warns that invasive species have received too little recognition in climate change discussions.
Researchers in the US have called for the introduction of policy designed to deal with the interactions of climate change and invasive species.
In a paper published early last year in Conservation Biology Christopher Pyke and colleagues propose such policies should be based on three guiding principles:
Antarctic researchers are studying the continent’s microscopic creatures as part of their hunt for clues about how climate change may disrupt life around the planet in future decades.
Pete Convey, a biologist at the British Antarctic Survey, says Antarctica is strikingly different to other continents in terms of what you find on land, Reuters Alister Doyle reports.
- IUCN sounds warning on weedy biofuels
- US report highlights risks of invasive species in warmer waters
- The big question, how will pests and weeds behave under climate change?
- Combination of environmental pressures can crash species populations
- European tree disease may worsen under climate change
- Helping plants and animals migrate under climate change – damned if we do, damned if we don’t