invasive species

Feral Hogs Root Through History

Archaeological sites inside Florida Air Force bases are threatened by foraging pigs.

Feral swine, first introduced by some of the earliest European explorers to America, have been roaming Florida for the past 500 years, and are now present in at least 35 states. The invasive pigs are well-known as a destructive environmental menace, tearing up sensitive habitats and endangered plants and animals in their search for food. But the hogs can also dig up important archaeological sites, destroying an irreplaceable historical record.

“The damage feral pigs do to everything else — crops, wetlands, endangered species — it can all grow back,” said Richard Engeman, a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “But once you move artifacts around, that doesn’t grow back.” Read more in Inside Science.

The Effects of Invasive Pythons Slither through the Everglades

Pythons may be setting off a cascade of ecosystem changes.

The huge Burmese pythons that are slowly taking over Florida’s Everglades wetlands are a threat to the mammals that live there. But new research shows the pythons’ influence extends far beyond their own appetites: the snakes are setting off cascading changes to the ecosystem. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

The big cull

Can New Zealand pull off an audacious plan to get rid of all invasive predators by 2050?

Razza the rat nearly ended James Russell’s scientific career. Twelve years ago, as an ecology graduate student, Russell was releasing radio-collared rats on to small islands off the coast of New Zealand to study how the creatures take hold and become invasive. Despite his sworn assurances that released animals would be well monitored and quickly removed, one rat, Razza, evaded capture and swam to a nearby island.

For 18 weeks, Russell hunted the animal. Frustrated and embarrassed, he fretted about how the disaster would affect his PhD. “I felt rather morose about the prospects for my dissertation,” he says. Read more in Nature.