Excerpt: Plants have no respect for boundaries. Nor,
for that matter, do zebra mussels, crazy ants or Nile perch. When
alien species invade, they wreak havoc on economies and ecosystems
across the globe. Curbing the problem is an international task,
says Harold A. Mooney, a Stanford biologist who helped design a
global plan to deal with the invaders.
``If we have a fire, then we send for the fire truck. People
respond right away. But we have no strategy for invasive
species,`` says Mooney, the Paul S. Achilles Professor of
Environmental Biology. He will outline a 10-point strategy to curb
invasive species at the American Association of the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) conference on Friday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m. PT.
Mooney is speaking on behalf of the Global Invasive Species
Programme (GISP), an international collaboration of scientists,
lawyers and policy makers that has been working for three years to
come up with an effective and globally acceptable plan.
Behind habitat destruction, alien invasion is the second
greatest cause of species extinction worldwide. On islands, alien
invasion is the number one cause of extinction, says Laurie
Neville, project officer for GISP.
When the small brown tree snake arrived on the coast of
Guam, it entered an island with 13 species of forest birds, 12
types of lizards and three bat species. Today, only one bat
species remains, three forest birds and six native lizard species.
Biodiversity loss, though devastating, is not the only
issue. More than one million nocturnal brown snakes now inhabit
even the smallest spaces on Guam. They cause black-outs by
crawling on power lines, hunt in family chicken coops and slide
into homes through bathroom vents.