Tag Archives: Invasive species

Lake Invaders: It came from the East

By: Luke Proell, Creator of Lanky Blog

Check Him out: http://blogs.uww.edu/lankyblog/

Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States borders, but especially with the entire East coast of Wisconsin. The lake is home to many different species from the animal kingdom like fish and birds but is also home to a variety of invasive species as well including the zebra mussel and the Asian carp. Zebra mussels, originating from the Caspian Sea, are causing a wide array of damage to the ecosystem both directly and indirectly. For starters, zebra mussels are known to coat pipes that lead to drinking water treatment plants and make their home within those pipes. This can lead to more money needing to be put into these plants in order to keep them functional and operational as Lake Michigan is a great source of drinking water for the entire community. The invasive species also have a habit of killing the native mussel population just due to their reproductive nature. Native mussels may take 3-5 years to fully mature and develop while zebra mussels only take a matter of one year which allows them to spread faster and deplete natural resources from the native species.

While originally not considered viable to survive in Lake Michigan, the Asian carp, arriving from Southeast China, has proved that it can be devastating for the long-term sustainability of the lake’s ecosystem. While the zebra mussel has many damaging implications towards human culture the carp can do monumental damage towards other fish within the waters such as walleye, yellow perch, and whitefish. Since the Asian carp has such a flexible diet consisting of anything from plankton to the feces of invasive mussels such as the zebra mussel. With few natural predictors, there’s no telling how out of control these invasive populations will get without spreading awareness and allocating resources towards saving one of Earth’s greatest ecosystems.

What’s the Buzz

If you haven’t figured it out by the title, we will be talking about native bees and how they are being affected by pollutants of all sorts. As many of you have already heard, bees are having a particularly hard time as of late when it comes to surviving and reproducing.  This is a problem that can be seen throughout the United States, but today we will be talking about native bee populations pertaining to Wisconsin.  Native bees play an essential role in Wisconsin’s agricultural community and without them could really hurt the crop output with certain crops that require fertilization by the transferring of pollen from one plant to another. As a matter of fact, 70% of angiosperm plants rely on insect pollination. The word angiosperm refers to plants that produce a flower; which includes, all fruit’s, rice, wheat, acorns, beans, and corn.  Some of those plants like corn, wheat, and soybeans can either be self-pollinated or be helped by the wind in fertilization.  When it comes to Wisconsin’s Orchardist’s and their crops of apples, cranberries, and cherries etc. many of them should be worried.  When it comes to ecosystems, many of them rely on the native bee populations because their larvae and the plants they pollinate provide food for a variety of wildlife.

Common Native Bees

Native bee populations have been plummeting for a multitude of reasons.  For instance, invasive species tend to battle with the native bee population for certain food sources and in most cases native bee population are not enough to fight off these invaders ultimately leading them to getting kicked out of an area. In addition to that, pesticides have always been a problem for native bee populations. Many bee populations tend to live near crops because they are a steady source of food which make them vulnerable to these very pesticides. Last of all, climate change has caused for a lot of habitat loss that many native bee populations tend to rely on for survival, for reproductive purposes, and in some cases food.  Without these specific habitats many native bee populations have vanished.  If we do not do something about our actions when it comes to climate change and our pesticide use, we will be forced to self-pollinate some of our crops and some of our current ecosystems may collapse.  We need to change our ways.