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Identify traits for invasive species...

We need more information on what makes a good invasive species. Can we predict what's going to be an invasive species and what is not? Marcel Rejmanek from Davis has had fairly good success in using characteristics of pines to predict which ones will be invasive. However, this field has not developed to the degree that it can be, since you need to know more than what features an organism has. You need to know what the characteristics of the habitat are that either encourage or discourage an invader. We need to develop some kind of early warning system about invasives. We need to have data more freely available around the world about what is a pest and what damage is it causing. You'd be amazed at the lack of advanced warning. Cape Weed in Australia, which is taking over large areas of rangeland and even -- heaven forbid -- the vineyards, invaded from South Africa. In spite of being damaging in Australia, it is sold as a ground cover in California nurseries.

The information we have on invasives is usually in two types. It's in a flora or fauna expressed as a percentage, or it's a disaster when we read about it in a newspaper. We don't have any information in between these extremes. People don't really pay that much attention to invasive species. We've got to do better on getting information out on controlling invaders: how to do it and how to do it in the most benign way. Some control measures do more harm than good. The impacts of these methods haven't been looked at very carefully and that's part of our challenge in the future.


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