More on Himalayan Blackberries

Sure, blackberries are delicious, and for a brief period in the late summer, everyone has a free snack on their trails, but surely, there must be some negative consequence of the blackberry invasion. One of the primary concerns when it comes to blackberry recruitment is the competitive exclusion of native flora.  The Himalayan blackberry is a voracious competitor for water, nitrogen, and sunlight. According to the scientific literature, it is particularly good at colonizing disturbed habitats, particularly human-mediated disturbances. In addition, it escaped disease associated with the Eurasian fungal rust (Phragmidium violaceum), which it left behind in its native region.  Prevalence in disturbed habitats and escape from native enemies are not uncommon attributes of highly invasive taxa.  It has also been suggested that some biological invasions can facilitate the establishment of future invaders…

Enter: the spotted wing Drosophila

Photo credit: USDA-APHIS

If rampant blackberry cane growth weren’t enough of a problem, meet Rubus armeniacus’ partner in crime: Drosophila suzukii, otherwise known as the spotted wing Drosophila. Also invasive in North America, the spotted wing Drosophila originated in east Asia where it largely infests stone fruits along with other fleshy fruits. So when this fruit fly made it across the Pacific and had to lay its hungry little offspring into an energy source, in addition to the bountiful crops of the Pacific Northwest it had all the invasive blackberries. An article in the Oregonian featured the spotted wing Drosophila and indicated its use of Himalayan blackberries as a “super highway” up and down the Pacific Northwest.  In spite of efforts in the agricultural community to eradicate the fruit fly, it can utilize the unsprayed Himalayan blackberries as a host and is thus potentially here to stay.

Still hungry for more?
Check out this New York Times article written by a fellow blogger about Himalayan blackberries.

Sheina

A self-proclaimed modern day nomad, I was born in the Philippines, grew up in southern California—lived all over really—and now I do research as a graduate student in Indiana and the Pacific Northwest. Professionally speaking, my current area of focus is speciation and ecological genetics and genomics, and a common theme in my various projects over the years is evolution in agricultural systems. As a recipient of a GLOBES—an interdisciplinary program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Traineeship grant (IGERT) —fellowship, I have received training which has better enabled me to view and ponder topics without my science hat on. I take great joy in eating, cooking, and experiencing nature through various activities. I love to travel and anticipate many local and international invasivore field trips! Though my research interests do not directly involve the study of invasive species, I have had my fair share of negative encounters with environmentally noxious organisms in the midst of doing field research. I carry around a machete with which to combat my gnarly “Himalayan” foes, and my machete and I have raised more than a few eyebrows. Apart from my personal vendetta against these deliciously juicy pests, I feel that there are great advantages to linking our awareness of the natural world to our culture, and Invasivore is an avenue to do just that. I feel that an increase in general knowledge of invasive species will be of great benefit to the field of invasive species and conservation biology. Knowledge and awareness will lead to action, and action will lead to results!

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