Monday, May 2, 2011

Invasional Meltdown

The April 2011 meeting of the Maui chapter of the Hawaii Farmers Union, was honored to have Art Medeiros, PhD. speak about his work at Auwahi. Art is a Research Biologist with US Geological Survey's Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center on Maui.

Art is one of the few people that had a vision of what the lands on Maui should be like and was able to create that vision, if only in a small area. It's important to note that what he has accomplished and proven could be done, is a blueprint for what should be done before Maui hits the point of what was coined as "Invasional Meltdown."

Here is my take on "Invasional Meltdown."  See more on them here.

A couple of scientists named Daniel Simberloff and Betsy Van Holle, put together the theory that "Invasional Meltdown"is when alien species work together to by creating conditions that cause both to thrive.
This type of relationship between the alien species can happen in different ways. One invasive species can could prevent a species that is native to the area, from being able to hold off another invading species. They may do this by either overtaking the native species or killing it altogether.
Some invading species may provide food or shelter for other types of invading species. They may "pave the way" through the environment to help the intruding species gain access to the area occupied by the native species. Invading species, plant to plant or plant to insects or animals, can work in unison to spread through the spreading of seeds, pollination and food supplies.

Art Medeiros talks about this and more in his presentation. 

Bringing these thoughts together with what I learned from being around Dr. Hoon Park in the Maui Aloha Aina Body & Soil Conference, as well as the Maui Aloha Aina Associations IMO, Indigenous Micro Organisms workshop, is that any given area has a whole host of indigenous microbes that work in a symbiotic relationship with the plants from that area.

This made me think about how we have not only introduced invasion species of plants and animals, but we have brought in invasive species of microbes too.
While the indigenous microbes may have evolved to be better adapted to our islands, it seems that in many cases, adapted or not, the invading species often will overtake the native just through sheer numbers. 

As the relationships between the plants and animals within an ecosystem change, so does the relationship that the microbes has with the plants and animals.

Fortunately, through efforts of the people like Art Medeiros with plants and people like Dr. Hoon Park with Indigenous Micro Organisms, there is hope and a way to prevent reaching an "Invasional Meltdown."