Taking action on invasives and youth unemployment in Zambia

The CABI Blog

20180911_102912 Tibonge Mfune sampling fall armyworm larvae to survey for natural enemies in Zambia.

Youth unemployment is a significant economic and social burden for Zambia. So too is the impact of invasive species on agricultural production and the natural environment.

Are these mutually exclusive challenges, or can youth unemployment and tackling agricultural challenges, such as invasive species, be effectively positioned together to deliver jobs, food security and sustainable agriculture?

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‘Cracking the code’ of woody weed spread with machine-learnt algorithms

The CABI Blog

rotor-cipher-machine-1147801_1920 Machine learning algorithms have their origins in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 ciphering Enigma machine

A scientific tool which has its principles in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 Enigma machine – used to convey secret commercial, diplomatic and military communication – is helping to map the fractional cover of the woody weed Prosopis julifloraacross the Afar Region of Ethiopia.

PhD Candidate Hailu Shiferaw from Addis Ababa University, who is being supervised by CABI’s Dr Urs Schaffner, Professor Woldeamlak Bewket (AAU) and Dr Sandra Eckert (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern), has compared the performances of five Machine Learning Algorithms (MLAs) to test their ability at mapping the fractional cover/abundance and distribution of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS) – particularly Prosopis which has already devastated an area equivalent to half of neighbouring Djibouti.

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How a wasp might save the Christmas Island red crab

By Stephanie Dittrich. Reblogged from Island Conservation.

Invasive crazy ants threaten Christmas Island Red Crab populations, but a certain species of wasp might be able to help.

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The Christmas Island red crab is a land crab endemic to Christmas Island and Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Credit: John Tann, Wikimedia

Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, is known for an abundance of Red Crabs, a species once recorded in numbers nearing 44 million. The Red Crab has captured the hearts of naturalists and nature novices alike, due to the beauty and magnificence of their yearly mass migration from land to sea to lay their eggs in the ocean. However, in recent years, they have suffered a tremendous decline of roughly 40 million, according to recent population surveys. The cause? Invasive crazy ants, which are believed to have been introduced by a ship sometime during the early 20th century.

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Dangerous waterweed spreading in Southern Africa

By Baraka Rateng’. Reblogged from SciDev.Net.

Limnobium laevigatum
Top view of Limnobium laevigatum Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

A dangerous waterweed is spreading across water bodies in Southern Africa and could soon strangle life-supporting services such as fishing if it is not controlled, a scientist says.

The waterweed called Limnobium laevigatum or South American sponge plant floats on water bodies and has the potential to invade other plants and decrease biodiversity, according to experts.

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What’s it like doing a PhD with CABI?

The CABI Blog

In this Q&A article we hear from three PhD students who have collectively spent over 11 years studying at the CABI Switzerland centre in Delémont working with scientists there to improve the monitoring and management of invasive species in Europe and Africa.

Find out from Judith Stahl, Benno Augustinus and Theo Linders about what they did, who they worked with and what’s in store after CABI.

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Zygogramma bicolorata released at selected sites in Pakistan as biological control of parthenium

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Parthenium hysterophorus is a highly destructive weed which has invaded and is widespread in around 48 countries in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. In Pakistan the weed is spreading rapidly westwards and southwards across both rural and urban landscapes, affecting native ecology and harming agriculture.

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Invasives killed the biodiversity star

george the snail
George, a Hawaiian tree snail and the last known member of the species Achatinella apexfulva. Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino, Honolulu Magazine.

The start of 2019 brought sad news when George, the last tree snail of his kind (Achatinella apexfulva) died on New Years Day. His death highlights the plight of Hawaiian snails and epitomises the rapid decline of biodiversity on the Hawaiian Islands.

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