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Home* News and Stories → Arc­tic ali­ens: miti­ga­ting inva­si­ve spe­ci­es

Arc­tic ali­ens: miti­ga­ting inva­si­ve spe­ci­es

The intro­duc­tion of new spe­ci­es to iso­la­ted eco­sys­tems with a low spe­ci­es diver­si­ty is always pro­ble­ma­tic and often cata­stro­phic, as anyo­ne know who is fol­lo­wing the deve­lo­p­ment on sub-ant­ar­c­tic islands such as South Geor­gia. In the Arc­tic, the pro­blem is at least a bit less dra­ma­tic than on sub-ant­ar­c­tic islands. The­re are seve­ral reasons: flo­ra and fau­na are alre­a­dy to some degree adapt­ed to plant-eating ani­mals and pre­da­tors, respec­tively. Second­ly, the natu­ral intro­duc­tion of new spe­ci­es by winds and curr­ents is much more com­mon in the Arc­tic, which is a main reason why it has much more ani­mal and plant spe­ci­es than remo­te islands in the deep south, whe­re lati­tu­di­nal winds and curr­ents iso­la­te them rather than con­nec­ting them to war­mer are­as.

But the pro­blem of inva­si­ve spe­ci­es is nevert­hel­ess to be taken very serious­ly also in the high north. The­re is alre­a­dy a num­ber of ali­en spe­ci­es in Spits­ber­gen, which has a long histo­ry of explo­ra­ti­on, mining etc., during which plants and ani­mals were impor­ted with buil­ding mate­ri­als, ani­mal feed and other car­go. Spe­ci­es that might be espe­ci­al­ly pro­ble­ma­tic for the natu­ral diver­si­ty of spe­ci­es include cow pars­ley (Anth­ris­cus syl­vestris), which is thri­ving in Barents­burg, and the sou­thern vole (Micro­tus levis). The fact that the sou­thern vole lives hap­pi­ly in places like Gru­mant­by­en and Coles­buk­ta, which have been aban­do­ned as mining sett­le­ments half a cen­tu­ry ago, indi­ca­tes that not much may be nee­ded in terms of adapt­a­ti­on or cli­ma­te warm­ing to make it spread over lar­ge are­as so far unaf­fec­ted.

Now the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on (Sys­sel­man­nen) has deci­ded to do some­thing about it. This has taken sur­pri­sin­gly long, con­side­ring what can be lear­nt from efforts to remo­ve inva­si­ve spe­ci­es from sub-ant­ar­c­tic islands.

The need to pre­vent new inva­si­ve spe­ci­es from coming to Spits­ber­gen is evi­dent. Car­go and bal­last water of ships will need atten­ti­on to achie­ve this. Also, stu­dies have shown that a sur­pri­sing amount of seeds and orga­nic mate­ri­al comes atta­ched to boots of flight pas­sen­gers arri­ving Lon­gye­ar­by­en. As a con­se­quence, the gover­nor will request future visi­tors to make sure they do not trans­port unwan­ted orga­nic mate­ri­als by acci­dent. This is alre­a­dy com­mon prac­ti­ce in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca.

Attempts should also be made to remo­ve inva­si­ve spe­ci­es that are alre­a­dy the­re. If this is not pos­si­ble, then their fur­ther disper­sal should be con­trol­led.

To start this pro­cess, the Sys­sel­man­nen has now published a report to descri­be the pro­blem and to iden­ti­fy appro­pria­te mea­su­res.

Simp­le, but effec­ti­ve: clean your boots!

Boot cleaning

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen



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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange