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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

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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