The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: invasive species

iiif service gmd gmd390 g3902 g3902g np000243 full pct 12.5 0 defaultMany climate-change related issues have appeared since publication of this vintage map of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Library of Congress

Invasive insects are among the vanguard of noticeable climate changes in America’s most-visited national park

GATLINBURG — Ants scurry beneath the carpet of last year’s leaves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The native ants are busy spreading the seeds of violets and bloodroot, preparing a new carpet of spring wildflowers to draw thousands of visitors.

But the local insects aren’t alone under there. They have become prey to venomous Asian needle ants that also prowl the leaf litter.

These invaders dine on termites, other ants and insects, while stealing habitat from them. Unlike invasive fire ants, needle ants can live in pristine forests and build large colonies with hundreds of queens. But like fire ants, needle ants have a painful sting that can trigger an allergic reaction. 

Climate change is expected to make it easier for invasive species like needle ants to upset the delicate balance of this temperate rainforest full of rare plants and animals. That’s just one example.

Published in News
Tuesday, 29 March 2022 15:33

Bobcats vs. pythons in the swamps of Florida

Bobcat vs. python 2USGS
 
New York Times: Evolving native predation may help stem invasion of Burmese python

The proliferation of the exotic and invasive Burmese python in the swamps and wilds of Florida is demonstrably bad for native birds and mammals.

Researchers now have evidence the best solution might have been there all along.

A bobcat was captured on a trail camera by the U.S. Geological Survey eating python eggs and challenging one of the gigantic snakes. It was the first instance of natural, native predation on the snake’s eggs. Bobcats are already known to target reptile eggs, including those of sea turtles.

“While it is possible that this interaction was just an isolated incident, it is also possible that native species are beginning to respond to the presence of the python," the New York Times reported.

“‘Most cat species adapt their diet to what is available, so bobcats predating on python eggs is actually not that surprising’” said Mathias Tobler, a wildlife ecologist at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.”

Published in Feedbag
Friday, 20 August 2021 17:17

State’s fight against Asian carp scales up

WATE: Commercial fishing pulls out 10 million pounds of exotic carp from Tennessee River system

If you never thought there’d be an Asian carp commercial fishery in Tennessee waters, you were wrong.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program has yielded 10 million pounds of the exotic fish since 2018, the bulk caught downstream on the Tennessee River system at Kentucky and Barkly reservoirs. The fish has been spotted as far upstream as Knox and Anderson counties.

The Tennessee Valley Authority and TWRA are experimenting with acoustic barriers to prevent further upstream spread of the fish, which compete with native fish for food and habitat.

“There are four types of Asian carp: bighead, silver, black and grass,” WATE reported. “Experts say the species threatens to disrupt aquatic ecosystems and starve out native species due to their ability to out-compete native species for food like plankton.”

So what do fishermen do with 10 million pounds of carp?

It can be sold to wholesalers for distribution abroad and also makes for really good fertilizer.

Published in Feedbag
Thursday, 18 March 2021 18:21

Become a Volunteer Forester

Mar 24  6–8 p.m.

Volunteer Forester Certificate Level One
Learn how to properly plant, mulch and prune trees
Trees Knoxville

The class will combine video instruction, 4 weekly Zoom meetings (Mar 24, 31, Apr 7, 14), and one 2-hour field day at a local park for hands-on training, which will follow The Arbor Foundation Covid best practices guidelines.

Virtual Volunteer Forester Registration

Class cost is $25. More information and financial aid available on the registration site.

Published in Event Archive

Mar 6  9 a.m.–noon

Spring Cedar Barren Cleanup / Weed Wrangle
Cedar barren next to Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning with City of Oak Ridge and State Natural Areas Division

Hands-on volunteer activity

Cedar Barrens — a habitat characteristic of our ecoregion — have become scarce in East Tennessee. They are reduced or eliminated by economic development and our rare native species specialized to live in them get overwhelmed by invasives. 

For more information, contact Tim Bigelow at 865-607-6781 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Specifics subject to prevailing conditions at time of event. COVID-19 precautions will be observed. 

Published in Event Archive
Monday, 18 January 2021 23:08

Marking points in time: The Hal DeSelm Papers

 Deselm 004
 Hal DeSelm takes a break during an outing in the Smoky Mountains in the 1970s.  Courtesy UT Tree Improvement Program
 

A life dedicated to the flora of Tennessee

Dr. Hal DeSelm clambered around the crest of Cherokee Bluff in the heat of a late Knoxville summer 22 years ago. The Tennessee River flowed languidly some 500 feet below. Beyond the river stood the campus of the University of Tennessee Agriculture Institute. The towers of the city center rose to the northeast beyond the bridges of the old frontier river town.

DeSelm was not interested in the views of the urban landscape below. He was interested in the native trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that clung to the ancient cliffside with firm but ultimately ephemeral grips on the craggy soil.

The retired UT professor, a renowned ecologist and botanist who died in 2011, had been sampling the terrestrial flora of Tennessee for decades. The life-long project took on a new urgency in the early 1990s, when he accelerated his data collection in hopes of writing the authoritative guide to the natural vegetation native to the forests, barrens, bogs and prairies of pre-European Tennessee.

Between 1993 and 2002, DeSelm collected 4,184 data points from 3,657 plots across the state. Many of those plots have since been lost to development, highways, and agriculture, or overrun by exotic species, but he assembled an invaluable baseline of the native landscape. Many of the sites he recorded have since been lost to development.

Published in Earth