Invasive Species Combated by Technology

Jack Bouton, Staff Writer

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Invasive species, unnatural animals that invade ecosystems and thrive, are a serious problem all over the world. Since they aren’t in their natural habitat, these species don’t have any natural predators, thus, they eat the naturally existing animals that have no defense against the invaders.

 

Invaders are tricky to fight, like all animals, they want to survive. This causes humans to go to extreme measures to fight them, measures like making specialized robots. Lion fish, beautiful and dangerous creatures that are now found everywhere on the east coast of America, are being trapped in robot vacuums that shock the fish to immobilize it before it is sucked into the storing cell. This robot, called the Guardian LF1, was created by Colin Angle, the creator of Roomba. The Guardian is proving very effective, as one robot can kill up to fifteen lion fish before it has to be emptied.

 

On the American island territory of Guam, brown tree snakes are eating many birds and their eggs. They have no natural predator, but they have a weakness to acetaminophen, the painkiller in Tylenol. To combat the snakes, scientists glue acetaminophen pills to dead mice and then drop the mice from helicopters. The snakes eat the poisoned bait and are thus disposed off.

 

On the Galapagos Islands, wild goats have taken over. To fight these, scientists introduced

hundreds of sterile females that are always “ready” to mate. The males mate with these and entire generations of goats are never born. This method was spearheaded by Karl Campbell, a biologist from a non profit organization. Campbell and his team are taking the next step, editing the genes of mosquitoes and mice to make them sterile, or have only male children. Many worry about the implications of such massive changes, so this project will take many years to accomplish.

 

Our local environment is also subject to invasive species. In fact, the Asian Carp is a real and dangerous problem close to home, as they have taken over most rivers and lakes in the Midwest. To combat the aggressive fish, special boats with nets emit deadly shocks. The boat can kill up to 500 carp in five minutes, the fish are then used as fertilizer.

 

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