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Thread: New neps from exotica plants

  1. #25

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    Dear Sean:

    I would like to reply to your statement in a scientific manner. i am a molecular biologist with specialty in infectious diseases and cancer. I am now moving to Plant biology (so i can study the relationships between species of cp's). I am also very familiar with epidemics, pathogenic diseases, spores etc. etc.

    By the way, i respect very much your job, because i know that you are trying to protect the environment as much as you can. However, i am entitled to my opinion. Although Quarantine service in Australia does an excellent job keeping the nasties out of this country, we still get them. If i am not mistaken, there was a virus-infected fish found in a river system in South Australia brought in processed food from overseas. It won't be long before SARS strikes Australia. The policy of keeping the nasties out is just making our native flora and fauna more susceptible to pathogens, because we don't give ourselves a chance to develop resistance or immunity and this also applies to other higher life forms. Just like the fact that many native aborigines died from diseases brought by the white man many years ago, it won't be long until our plants, our animals, even ourselves become infected with new nasties and thus entire populations will be wiped out, just because we have not given ourselves a chance to develop resistance to them. I don't want to sound pessimistic nor i wish for that to happen, but history and epidemiology have taught us some lessons.

    Same with the Calisi virus introduced into this country on purpose by CSIRO to wipe out the wild hare populations which was destroying our native habitats. It killed most of them, but resistance was quickly developed in some hares and now the calisi virus is useless to control such hares. Why can't we applied that scientific philosophy to our plants. I am not condoning free entry of anything living into the country, because it'd be disastrous, but perhaps a slow and controlled adaptation to our flora to these nasties.

    Quarantine systems work as long as one keeps all our bases covered. But the nasty germs are constantly creating more bases which will be impossible for us to cover them all. Policy of isolation works, but it has its disadvantages.

    [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif[/img]
    Gus

  2. #26

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    Hi Gus,

    Obviously my post did not come across as I intended. I very much respect your opinion.

    You make some very good points regarding the possibility/probability that pathogens and other pests may/will ultimately enter the country. I will not dispute this as it is just not possible for all pathogenic organisms to be intercepted before entering a country as large as ours. It is impossible to cover all of our bases.

    I also see your point in regards to a potential for native species to become more susceptible to pest and disease organisms due to a lack of contact creating a low level of resistance and immunity.

    By using an example I may illustrate why I believe the incursion of a pest or disease could create a greater problem than a lack of resistance in a population. As you would be aware there are many hundreds of species of both plant and animal in Australia that have very small populations, many facing extinction. If a disease which affected a vulnerable species were to enter the country it would not need to wipe out the entire population to cause irreparable damage. Even though a certain percentage of the population were resistant and would invariably survive, it is possible that there would be too few remaining to replace the numbers lost.

    The example you used about the calici-virus used in an attempt to eradicate the rabbit population is a good example of an animal developing an immunity to a pathogen, but this was amongst a population of hundreds of millions of a non-native animal in virtual plague proportions. Such a problem animal will always have an easier task of surviving and recolonising the country. After all there was originally only around 50 rabbits released into Victoria to create the problem we have at the moment. If a similar disease which affected the endangered WA numbat entered the country it would not need to kill off all of the animals to place the species on the verge of extinction.

    The human examples you use are always going to be a problem, but how do we deal with diseases such as SARS, yellow fever, ebola etc? It will be very difficult to control the release of such pathogens. I agree that in the future the lack of resistance will be a major, potentially devastating problem, but what do you do about it in the meantime though? It is very difficult to be able to create a balance between creating a resistance and devastating the human population in the process. Our scientists will have to work on this one.

    Although it may seem to be a lost cause, it is extremely important to keep our country free from as many pest organisms as possible for as long as possible. Our international reputation as being a country free from many of the diseases present overseas is worth billions of dollars in exported produce. If a disease such as citrus canker were to enter the country there is potential for the majority of our citrus industry to be decimated.

    I also agree with you that it is necessary to gradually introduce a pest or disease organism into the country to begin to create native species which do have a resistance. As you say- it'd be disastrous to allow free entry of any living organism to the country. This is exactly what we are aiming to prevent. I understand that AQIS will never be able to eliminate the risk entirely. Our responsibility is to minimise the risk.

    Obviously it is a very complex issue, not something to be taken lightly. Somehow we will need to create a balance in the future. I'm not silly enough to believe that the Australian Quarantine Service will be the saviour of the country but I do believe that the purpose we serve is an important one.

    I must say that your post has let me understand what you meant when you used the word 'exaggerated', I was originally unsure how to take the comment. Now that I know the context with which you were using it I can see where you are coming from.

    Regards,

    Sean.

  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]The policy of keeping the nasties out is just making our native flora and fauna more susceptible to pathogens, because we don't give ourselves a chance to develop resistance or immunity and this also applies to other higher life forms.
    Although I don't usually like to "put my foot" into it like this, I must say that there's a bit of oversimplification here. Introduction of a new organism into an ecosystem is not a simple matter, and the rabbit is a good example of how even a seemingly benign entity can have a dramatic impact on the environment. I do not think that gradually exposing Australia to rabbits to allow the native ecosystem to build up resistance to them would have mitigated the country's rabbit problem one bit, due to the obvious rapidity with which rabbits reproduce. For example, a single pair of rabbits can have 43,000 descendants within three years under favorable conditions, and microorganisms are orders of magnitude more prolific than this!

    Furthermore, akin to Australia's rabbit problem, we have similar examples here in America. Among them are the fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata). Once these entites have been released, there is no going back unless one can eliminate them all, and that is just not possible in the vast majority of cases.

    Of course, it is true that a native ecosystem will acquire "resistance" to these new introductions, but this process will invariably change the ecosystem, (typically in ways that are not generally beneficial to man or some of the other native flora or fauna) and may occur on a geological (rather than human) time scale. And, insofar as I am aware, it is not possible to "innoculate" an ecosystem to provide it resistance to invasive organisms prior to their introduction. Moreover, even if this were possible, for what would one prepare, given that the number of possible invasives is quite large, and that it is essentially impossible to accurately predict, a priori, the impact of each possible species? Again, consider the case of the rabbit, intentionally introduced to Australia by man.

    Consequently, while I do think that Australia's importation procedures are elaborate and, (from the standpoint of those who wish to import plants) annoying, nonetheless, I suspect that they are quite well justified and, if anything, insufficient to prevent the introduction of further invasive species or pathogenic organisms.

  4. #28

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    Don't forget the cane toad, Bufo marinus(I think, off the top of my head).

    Regards,

    Joe

  5. #29

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    The possible incursion of pest and weed species as opposed to disease and pathogenic organisms species require separate considerations here.

    The Australian environment cannot cope with the introduction of many pest and weed species and has no way of developing an immunity to such organisms as it potentially could with some of the pathogenic organisms. The aim of AQIS is to keep these problem species out of the country at all costs for as long as possible. Some of these could be associated with the importation of live plants, including Nepenthes.

    There are countless examples of species which have irreparably damaged many areas and populations of animals and plants in those areas eg- foxes, deer, rabbits, hares, mice, horses, goats, camels, buffalo, cane toads, numerous species of birds and a list of weed plant species longer than my arm.

    I can see though that the examples Gus uses are referring to the disease/pathogenic aspect rather than the pest/weed side of things. Both are separate issues.

  6. #30

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    Hi all:

    I agree with Sean, this is not a simple issue and we won't find an answer in the immediate future. All I wish for is for government bodies (in case AQIS) is to start thinking for new strategies on disease containment since these will always evolve and become more contagious and I am afraid that old techniques for disease containment and eradication may render useless in the not so distant future.

    Neps:

    I think we should talk about the ramifications of strict quarantine laws. (whether fair or unfair, which i think is a different issue altogether) is that we don't get to have all the beautiful species or those you currently share with the whole world from your website. There are many nep collectors like myself here in Australia who are somehow frustrated because of their inability to get rare nepenthes species. The only solution is for us to find a way out so we can have for example "Nepenthes sp. 12" at more or less the same time it is available in America or Europe. Whether this is achievable or not, it is a different story.

    Food for thought

    Gus

  7. #31

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    I just thought i'd throw in that the fire ant mentioned earlier has continued to rampage unchecked across the USA. In order to attempt to moderate the spread, researchers (my mothers cousin, for one, which is why i know this) spent years doing studies on the potential impact of introducing a native predator of the ants: a small wasp. Obviously the idea was to prevent the wasp from becoming a further pest. Anyway, not too long ago approval was given to introduce the wasp into certain areas of the USA.

    Since this is a CP forum, i think it will interest my fellow warped people to know that this wasp 'dive bombs' the ants with eggs, trying to stick them to the back of the ants head. The larvae hatch and burrow into the head, and eventually the ants head falls off, and the critters climb out and fly away, to start it all over again. Is that gruesome and cool, or what?
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  8. #32

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    DON'T BRING THE WASPS IN! They will go out of control, and start stinking our necks! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif[/img] They will morph and become huge! WE WILL BE THE ANTS! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]

    [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif[/img]

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