Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blue Team: Caycee Gray

Invasive species are plants or animal species that are not native to where they are growing and cause some form of harm to the environment, or surroundings. Invasive species are very difficult to get ride of once use to the environment they are now use to living in. Some of the major reasons invasive species came to Florida are climate, the look of the species, and the fact that people bring the species over and get tired of them so they illegally release the species of invasive plant, or animals.

Most of the time biological control is a successful method. This is the type of control where you bring one animal to control an invasive species of animals. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Steve Johnson, 45, a biological control expert. According to him “Lake Alice is a great educational” stand point. Lake Alice is the lake where we learned about nature. We also took a quick airboat tour around part of the lake. Biological control experts take time to study the species of noninvasive animals to bring over to help control or destroy the invasive species. Noninvasive species help to get ride of the harmful plants and animals, while maintaining the native plants and animals.

Mechanical harvesting is the use of machinery to cut out invasive species out of the water to help stop the spread of the invasive aquatic plants. It is another way to control the problem we currently and always will have with invasive aquatic plants. I talked to Dr. Bill Haller, 56, about the machinery we saw on Lake Alice. Dr. Haller has been in this line of work for 30 years. He informed us that the machine being used on the lake we visited cost $45.000. When the machine becomes full of the invasive species it’s collecting it comes to shore and dumps it on a conveyer. The conveyer cost around $20.000 to $25.000. From the conveyer the invasive plants go into a dump truck, witch costs a lot of money. From there the plants go to a landfill, or an agricultural facility to be disposed or taken care of. People ask the question, “Why can’t we use invasive plants like we do our native plants?” In his reply Dr. Haller informs us that, “You can’t use the invasive plants because unlike native plants they are made up of 90 to 95 percent water.” Mechanical harvesters are not selective. They also pick up fish small alligators, snakes, and other small creatures. While harvesting if you see a manatee you must stop mechanical harvesting, and look to see if the animal is harmed. He also informed us that, “The faster you move with a mechanical harvester you pick up more creatures; however, the deeper you go the more invasive plants you will pick up.” This is why at this time experts are working on a harvester that goes deeper than the ones we have today.

I talked to Dr. Jim Cuda,59, at the lake. According to him, “Water lettuce is a public health threat.” It is such a health risk because it is home to one of the most aggressive mosquitoes . A group scientist from Mexico came over for an invasive species problem they were having that the mosquitoes would help with. Dr. Cuda and the scientist from Mexico collected 2,000 mosquitoes in three days.

Dr. Colette Jacono,49, told us that “manatees love to eat hydrilla.” This fact causes great conflict between people and scientist because the hydrilla is a invasive plant. Hydrilla takes over the water covering the natural resources needed by native plants.This kills native plants in the area, therefore we must kill them to protect the native species. Aroma is another invasive plant. It is found in the Keys, and Clay Canty. It has thorns that when you get pricked by them it hurts and you’ll need to find a doctor to get checked out.

Dr. Mike Netherland,47, talked to us about chemical control. Did you know that there are only 12 registered chemicals allowed to be used on invasive plants in water? If you use one of these chemicals make sure you read the restrictions and don’t use too much or too little. There are limits to the use of water after being sprayed to become potable. Potable means to be used for swimming, drinking, and thing of that sort. Herbicide if used to much can kill more than needed or wanted, however to little wont do very much. The Florida Fish and Wildlife have a budget of $30millionto spend on helping to get ride of the invasive species. The invasive species may start off to seem like a small problem, but can and will quickly turn into a big one!

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