Diario del proyecto Invasive Species in Nova Scotia

27 de septiembre de 2022

Wetlands and Invasive Species

Did you know that wetlands cover approximately 13% of the land area in Canada? Recently, wetlands have become an increasingly scarce resource in settled areas of the country, and there are many factors that threaten them. One of the main threats to wetlands are invasive species. Invasive plants and animals reduce habitat for the many species that inhibit wetlands, they outcompete native species for resources, bring new diseases to our native species and can even alter the chemical balance of wetland waters.

Some invasive species that impact our wetlands in Nova Scotia include:
• Purple Loosestrife: perennial wetland plant that was first introduced as an ornamental for gardens. It thrives in moist habitats, but also has a high tolerance to drought, which allows it to colonize a wide variety of habitats. It prefers recently disturbed areas with exposed soil and abundant sunlight. It can create dense stands with thick mats of roots that spread over large areas, outcompeting native plant species and degrading habitat for native wildlife. In some habitats, Purple Loosestrife has replaced 50% of the natural species.
• Phragmites australis (Common Reed): a very tall grass, often reaching heights of 3 m or more. It grows in wetlands and spreads quickly through its roots. It can quickly form large, dense stands that exclude native species and can alter the structure and function of native marsh ecosystems.
• Yellow Iris: perennial plant that grows in wetlands, along shorelines, in shallow ponds and ditches. It reproduces through propagation of broken pieces of rhizomes, horizontal root dispersal, and seed dispersal. The underwater horizontal root system of Yellow Iris forms thick mats which reduce water flow, crowd out native species, and dry out wetlands.

Wetlands provide many services and are recognized as particularly useful areas because:
• they absorb the impact of hydrologic events such as large waves or floods;
• they filter sediments and toxic substances;
• they supply food and essential habitat for many animal species;
• they also provide products for food, energy and building material; and
• they are valuable recreational areas for activities such as hunting and birdwatching.

There are conservation programs in place to protect our wetlands, and there are ways that you can help as well. Always Clean, Drain and Dry your boat, trailer and fishing gear before launching in a new body of water. Remember to always Play Clean Go before you enter or leave a trail by cleaning any seeds, plant matter and insects off yourself, your pet, and your gear. When planting new species in your garden, opt for native or non-invasive plants instead of invasive ones. If you see any invasive species, report your sighting here on iNaturalist, or visit https://nsinvasives.ca/report-an-invasive-species/

Ingresado el 27 de septiembre de 2022 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de junio de 2022

Blue Sedge

Did you know invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that have been introduced into areas beyond their native range and negatively impact the environment, the economy, or society? Many invasive plant species have been introduced for ornamental purposes- take Blue Sedge for example. This plant was introduced from Europe as a garden ornamental. Blue Sedge is a cool-season sedge that grows to a height of 30-45 cm, forming a dense clump that slowly creeps and spreads. Its leaves are 3 mm wide, narrow, arching, and coarse, blue green on top and blue-gray underneath.

Blue Sedge thrives in moist soils. It is often found in full sun, but also does well in the shade of large trees. It prefers areas of high pH bedrock, rich forests, swamps, and wet meadows. Blue Sedge threatens and out-competes native species that grow in these areas, including the Ram’s Head Lady’s Slipper- a legally protected species in Nova Scotia.

You can help prevent Blue Sedge and other invasive species from spreading by choosing native plants over invasive plants when planning out your garden. A great native alternative to Blue Sedge is Switchgrass. If you are removing Blue Sedge plants from your property, double bag it then leave it in the sun to rot before discarding. If you find Blue Sedge, you can report it here on iNaturalist or on our website: https://nsinvasives.ca/report-an-invasive-species/

Ingresado el 13 de junio de 2022 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de mayo de 2022

Coffin Box Bryozoan

Have you heard of our Clean Drain Dry program? It is a campaign that encourages boaters and anglers to Clean, Drain and Dry their gear before launching in a new body of water. By practicing CDD, you can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, like Coffin Box Bryozoan.

Coffin Box Bryozoan is a marine organism that consists of tiny individual filter-feeding invertebrate animals. They are ‘coffin’ shaped and live in encrusting circular colonies of hundreds to thousands. The Coffin Box Bryozoan typically grows in shallow subtidal water with strong currents, to depths of up to 10 m. Colonies can grow on the surface of kelp and seaweeds, rocks, boat hulls, and other underwater surfaces. They are especially detrimental to kelp forests, which are otherwise known to be highly productive marine habitats. Coffin Box Bryozoan can starve kelp by absorbing nutrients, blocking light needed for photosynthesis, and reducing the kelps’ ability to release reproductive spores.

Coffin Box Bryozoan first appeared in Nova Scotia in the early 1990s. It spreads mostly in the larval phase when it can easily be picked up in ballast water. It has also been known to raft to new locations on dislodged kelp and drift plastic. To reduce the spread of Coffin Box Bryozoan, regularly clean and disinfect boats and boating gear. Avoid transporting water between locations.

Have you seen Coffin Box Bryozoan? Be sure to report your observation here on our iNaturalist project!

Visit our website for more information on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species: https://nsinvasives.ca/clean-drain-dry/

Ingresado el 24 de mayo de 2022 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de abril de 2022

Invasive Species Data Quest

Invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that have been accidentally or deliberately introduced into areas beyond their native range. Invasive species pose the second greatest threat to biodiversity in the world. Natural areas such as forests, wetlands and lakes provide many ecosystem services and benefits. Natural areas provide food and shelter for wildlife, can remove pollutants from air and water, produce oxygen and provide valuable educational and recreational opportunities. Invasive species pose a significant threat to these natural areas, and once established they are costly and difficult to eradicate and can often cause irreversible damage to local ecosystems.

The reporting and mapping of invasive species plays an important role in understanding where species have spread to, when new species have been introduced, and which species are established near species at risk. We rely on citizen scientists to help with the reporting and mapping of invasive species, and this is where you can help by participating in the City Nature Challenge! The Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council has prepared two Data Quests for the 2022 City Nature Challenge: one for invasive plants and one for bird and prey observations.

Data Quest 1: Invasive Plants.
Data on invasive plants can be collected by walking in a park, on a trail, at the beach and even by simply walking down the street. Can you find any invasive plants in your neighborhood? If you can, the best pictures can be taken of individual leaves, flowers and stems, and a picture of the whole plant. If you need help figuring out which plants are invasive, you can look at plants that have already been reported to the NSISC iNaturalist project, or you can visit our website: https://nsinvasives.ca/fact-sheets/

Data Quest 2: Bird photographers.
We are challenging bird photographers to post two photos- one photo of the bird and a second photo of its prey. Some invasive prey you can look for are European green crabs, Chinese mystery snail and smallmouth bass. Pictures of prey will help us determine whether our native birds are consuming invasive species.

Remember to Play Clean Go while you are participating in this years City Nature Challenge; clean any plants and insects off your clothing and gear when entering and leaving an area to stop invasive species from spreading. You can learn more about our Play Clean Go program here: https://nsinvasives.ca/play-clean-go/

Good luck!

Ingresado el 28 de abril de 2022 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de abril de 2022

Woodland Angelica

With summer fast approaching, more invasive plant species are popping up. One species that has become quite common is Woodland Angelica. This invasive plant is a large biennial member of the carrot family, growing 1-2 m tall and flowering from July to September. Its leaves are pinnately compound and leaf-sheaths are enlarged. Leaflets are ovate and often lobed, with toothed margins. Flowers are small, fragrant, white to pale-lilac, and borne in an umbel (umbrella) formation on thick bamboo-like stalks with purplish joints. It is known to be a prolific seed producer.

Woodland Angelica usually grows in open areas with damp soil including ditches, hedgerows, marshes, fields, and woodlands. It is tolerant of full sunlight, full shade, and drought, but not usually tolerant to acidic conditions. It can dominate disturbed habitats due to its prolific seed production and ability to shade out competitors. It is strongly attractive to pollinators and may divert them from using native species. The sap of Woodland Angelica contains chemicals which can cause rashes and burns when in contact with human skin.

If you identify Woodland Angelica on your property, physically remove first year plants and cut the seed heads of second year plants to stop the spread. It is recommended to wear gloves, work on cloudy days, and wash thoroughly after handling to avoid burns and rashes. Do not compost or burn plant or plant parts, instead double bag them and let them rot in the sun before discarding.

Woodland Angelica was first introduced to North America by French settlers in the 1600s or 1700s, and now grows over much of Nova Scotia. Woodland Angelica is commonly mistaken for Giant Hogweed, another invasive plant that causes severe burns when its sap comes in contact with human skin.
You can report Woodland Angelica here on our iNaturalist project, or on our website.

Ingresado el 26 de abril de 2022 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de noviembre de 2021

European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)

The Green Crab is a small shore crab found in shallow water, generally in sheltered areas. They appeared in the 1950s in the bay of Fundy, probably after moving up the infested coast of northeastern united states. They are common in salt marshes, on sandy beaches, and on rocky coasts, and they can tolerate a wide range of salinities. In adult green crabs their carapace can reach up to 10cm but are usually less than 8cm. They range from mottled, green, red, yellow, to brown in coloration. They have serrated shells with five spines on either side of the eyes and three between the eyes. Their back legs are pointed, slightly flattened, and hairy.

Green crabs are voracious consumers of both plants and animals, especially soft-shelled clams, oysters, quahogs, and mussels. They destroy beds of bivalves and uproot Eel grass, an important habitat-forming species for native fish, invertebrates, and waterfowl. They also outcompete native crab species for resources such as food and space. These behaviours all result in a negative impact on biodiversity and harm local fisheries. They have been given the nickname cockroaches of the sea.

Green Crabs are thought to spread mostly during their larval stage where they are moved about in ballast water transfers or drifting on ocean currents. Their larval stage can last up to 90 days. Adult Green Crabs can survive for a long time in fresh water and out of the water. They can also be introduced if fishing gear is moved to a new area or if crabs are intentionally discarded with bycatch outside of their catch area.

Always remember to clean, drain, dry your boat before entering a new body of water to prevent the spread of green crabs. If Green Crabs are caught as by-catch do not release them.

Ingresado el 30 de noviembre de 2021 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de noviembre de 2021

The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is an invasive species that is native to Europe. It was intentionally introduced in 1890 to New York City’s Central Park by the America Acclimatization Society. They released 100 birds to Central Park with the hopes of introducing the many bird species that were mentioned throughout Shakespeare’s works and seeing them represented in North America [1].

Since their introduction, the European Starling has become widespread across North America, ranging from Mexico all the way up to the Northern treeline in Canada. Already by 1950 they had spread across the North American continent and reach the Pacific Coast. They prefer open regions such as fields, pastures, lawns, marshes, and shorelines, and so, they can be found in both rural and urban settings.

Starlings are aggressive cavity nesters who live in enormous flocks, outcompeting native cavity nesting birds for nest sites. Starlings typically build nests in tree holes, nest boxes, openings in building walls, cliff crevices and rural mailboxes. They often form roosts under bridges, on ledges, or in trees. The combined weight of the birds has been known to break branches of trees. As a stewardship action to reduce this invasive alien species impact, you can repair and seal and exterior cavities where birds can nest, with openings like vents that can’t be sealed the openings should be covered with wire mesh.

European Starlings have short stubby tails and triangular wings. They are generally described as “chunky” and humpbacked birds. As adults they range 19-23cm in length with a wingspan of 31-44cm. Breeding starlings have glossy black plumage with purple and green reflections, yellow ills, and reddish brown legs. In the Fall, Starling’s bills become darker in colour and white spots develop on the body feathers.

European starlings are omnivores, feeding mainly on insects and fruit, but will also forage on human food waste and on agricultural crops [1]. For this reason, as another stewardship action, you can eliminate anthropogenic food sources which includes bird feeders for other species.

A fun fact about European Starlings is that they are excellent vocal mimics and can mimic the song of up to 20 different bird species.

  1. New York Invasive Species (IS) Information. European Starling. Updated: May 31, 2021 [accessed September 10, 2021]. Retrieved from: http://nyis.info/invasive_species/european-starling/
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25 de junio de 2021


Welcome to our iNaturalist project! We are the Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council (NSISC), and we aim to raise awareness and promote a coordinated response to the threat of invasive species in Nova Scotia. Our Steering Committee is comprised of volunteers from a variety of academic, government, and non-government organizations. The NSISC builds on the experience of the former Invasive Species Alliance of Nova Scotia (ISANS), which was based at Acadia University from 2007-2012. The NSISC is a recognized provincial chapter of the Canadian Council on Invasive Species.

As a member of this project you are a community scientist, and a valuable asset to the NSISC. You’re probably wondering, what is a community scientist and how do I fit into this role? A community scientist, or citizen scientist is a member of the general public, who helps scientists by contributing to research projects. When you report an invasive species to our iNaturalist project, you become part of the citizen science community.

Community scientists are important members of the science field, as they play a key role in broadening research projects. They are valuable to the NSISC because they help identify new invasive species that may be established in Nova Scotia. Thus far, we have 74 species that have been identified in our iNaturalist project and over 4000 observations have been reported.

We will be featuring a new species in each journal entry to provide our valued members with a better understanding of the species they have been reporting. We thank you for your observations and for contributing to the NSISC iNaturalist project.

If you are interested in learning more about the NSISC you can check out our website- http://nsinvasives.ca/ or subscribe to our email list to receive our quarterly newsletter: info@nsinvasives.ca

Are there any species that you would like to see featured in our journal? Let us know in the comments!

Ingresado el 25 de junio de 2021 por jgilice1 jgilice1 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario