Biological Invaders – Aussie Invasions

music
ambience: dawn chorus, Australia

What do rabbits and rubbervine have in common? Stay tuned. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Over the last two centuries, rabbits, and the ornamental rubbervine plant, have – with a little help from us humans – moved their way into Australia. They’re part of a rogues gallery of plants and animals that biologists call “invasive species,” and they can cause quite a bit of damage when their populations gets high enough. Ecologist Mark Lonsdale.

“In Australia, in the 19th century people were yearning for the homeland – British Isles, in most cases. They liked the rabbit, which was unknown to Australia, and they wanted some animals that they recognized to be able to hunt. They introduced the rabbit several times and it failed on several occasions, but finally one introduction succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. And it’s run rampant now across much of the temperate parts of Australia. It’s denuded vegetation, it’s chewed down the pastures for the farmers to the point where they can’t make a living out of their cattle.”

And like the rabbits, rubbervine has also been wrecking havoc in the land down under.

“It was introduced as an ornamental species in the early 20th century from the island of Madagascar. And it was introduced to prettify people’s gardens in some fairly arid and dusty areas of Northern Australia. It’s now infesting hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical vegetation. It’s a creeper, it scrambles up over the native vegetation and shades out the understory.”

Mark Lonsdale and others are taking steps to rid their homeland of these invasive species. We’ll hear more in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Biological Invaders - Aussie Invasions

Australia has played host to unwanted visitors since the 19th century.
Air Date:09/15/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: dawn chorus, Australia

What do rabbits and rubbervine have in common? Stay tuned. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Over the last two centuries, rabbits, and the ornamental rubbervine plant, have - with a little help from us humans - moved their way into Australia. They're part of a rogues gallery of plants and animals that biologists call "invasive species," and they can cause quite a bit of damage when their populations gets high enough. Ecologist Mark Lonsdale.

"In Australia, in the 19th century people were yearning for the homeland - British Isles, in most cases. They liked the rabbit, which was unknown to Australia, and they wanted some animals that they recognized to be able to hunt. They introduced the rabbit several times and it failed on several occasions, but finally one introduction succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. And it's run rampant now across much of the temperate parts of Australia. It's denuded vegetation, it's chewed down the pastures for the farmers to the point where they can't make a living out of their cattle."

And like the rabbits, rubbervine has also been wrecking havoc in the land down under.

"It was introduced as an ornamental species in the early 20th century from the island of Madagascar. And it was introduced to prettify people's gardens in some fairly arid and dusty areas of Northern Australia. It's now infesting hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical vegetation. It's a creeper, it scrambles up over the native vegetation and shades out the understory."

Mark Lonsdale and others are taking steps to rid their homeland of these invasive species. We'll hear more in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music