Saturday, July 29, 2017

Yellow Crazy Ants - sea cargo hitch hikers

The following information comes from the Queensland Government website here 
"Native to Africa, the yellow crazy ant has a long body and very long legs and antennae. Its name comes from its erratic walking style and frantic movements, especially when disturbed. Yellow crazy ants can disrupt natural environments, affect the horticulture industry, and cause skin and eye irritations. They are found throughout the Pacific region and on Christmas Island, and are most commonly transported inside sea cargo."
Native crabs are particularly under threat as well as native birds, other animals and plants. The large aggressive ants husband sap sucking insects and can spray harmful formic acid.
"The yellow crazy ant is listed as one of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
"They have spread extensively in Queensland since they were first discovered in Cairns in 2001. Despite Biosecurity Queensland’s ongoing treatment and surveillance, eradicating yellow crazy ants is no longer considered possible in Queensland. Efforts will now focus on working with councils, industry and landholders to manage yellow crazy ants and their ongoing impacts."

Yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) - Photo courtesy of Invasive Species Council

Seen in many parts of northern Australia possibly the worst affected is Christmas Island and our iconic Christmas Island red crabs. To protect our crabs and other natives be alert and advise the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Poleward Shift; What does it mean in our ocean?

What is  poleward shift? 

Basically it tells us that things will gravitate more towards either the north or the south pole.

Joseph Kidston, Lecturer, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW says in The Conversation"The Earth’s principal climatic zones appear to be shifting poleward. If this continues, as climate models project, the weather patterns that give rise to deserts in the subtropics, and stormy wet weather in the mid-latitudes, will move towards the poles of the Earth."

What does that mean in our coastal areas?

University of Tasmania IMAS Honours student Hannah Fogarty published a report in the journal Global Change Biology that has shown initial reports of fish appearing in waters they are not usually found are a sign of "impending species-wide change, with major implications for local ecology and fishing industries."

Ms Fogarty says, " Climate is leading to global changes in species distribution patters and reshuffling of biodiversity is already well underway."

She also advised in the article that new marine species arriving in an area may become pests and change the local ecosystem. This might also provide new opportunities for fishing or recreation.

How can you help monitor the change?

Image courtesy of What's new at Redmap 
In Australia there are people who are actively looking at what that means in our unique coastal waters. Redmap here introduces some excellent citizen science looking at poleward shift using diving enthusiasts to record data. 

In a recent communication What's new at Redmap? they tell us some of the unusual recent sightings include tropical leather jackets in Tasmania, baby Ocellate Butterflyfish in Perth and that Coral Cod noted in New South Wales.