November 29, 2006


From pigs to horses and cattle, animals brought to Hawaii flourish with mixed results (Associated Press, November 29, 2006)

In Hawaii’s warm, moist environment, interlopers have flourished.

Known as invasive species, they pillage native forests, screech through the night in suburban neighborhoods and root around in rural taro patches.

Stealthy, unwelcome species such as hybrid Polynesian pigs and a newly discovered gall wasp have eluded eradication efforts and taken hold in an ecosystem that was once home to only one terrestrial mammal, an insectivorous bat. [...]

Still, despite the annoyances and ecological upheaval these introduced animals and plants have caused here, not everyone feels they all need to be wiped out.

“I think semantics plays a big role in this. The term ’invasive species’ makes one think that the hordes are at our gates and threatening to destroy life as we know it, when actually the animals who are considered invasive for the most part had no say in coming to Hawaii,” said Cathy Goeggel, Animal Rights Hawaii director.

Even funnier than the ease with which the non-natives thrive despite coming from other environments is the implicit assumption of Design that underlies viewing them as "invasive."

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2006 9:17 AM

When we have a fossil record that stretched millions of years, and we only notice zebra mussels and others showing up in certain parts over the past few decades, don't you think its safe to use the word "invasive"? Or do you think those darn scientists are gambling with reckless terminology, again?

Posted by: Brendan at November 29, 2006 9:51 AM

One more time: freighter bilge tanks are part of the environment of zebra mussels, just as the intestinal tract of certain birds are part of the the environment of seed-bearing plants.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 29, 2006 10:06 AM

Yes, I think you should use the word invasive. It conveys your meaning precisely and demonstrates my point.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2006 10:07 AM

"Known as invasive species, they pillage native forests, screech through the night in suburban neighborhoods and root around in rural taro patches"

Are we talking about animals here or retirees from California?

Posted by: h-man at November 29, 2006 10:48 AM

Aren't all species on recently created volcanic islands "invasive"? What is it with environmentalists hopelessly trying to maintain the status quo contra evolution?

Posted by: jd watson at November 29, 2006 11:31 AM

"Invasive" seems an accurate enough term for a species expanding into a locale or environment from which it was excluded previously. It carries no connotations relative to "design," pro or con. Your point, such as it is, is ancillary to debates over the validity of evolution by natural selection, which you seem to want to apply here.

Adaptation would be "bunk" if those hybrid Polynesian pigs and gall wasps were establishing themselves in Alaska. As it is, they're establishing themselves in conditions not dissimilar from those prevalent at their geographic origins.

Posted by: M. at November 29, 2006 4:33 PM