'Coimhtioch Gan Cuireadh' have Irish in a Dander

Posted by John Goetz

My lovely wife is Irish. She loves to talk, drink Guinness, and adores her motherland. I have to admit I love the place as well. We spent some time there just a few years ago and did not want to come home. The narrow country roads lined with stone walls on both sides were thrilling, especially when a truck was approaching from the other direction. We never got tired of hanging out in the local pubs, no matter where we were. The people were absolutely wonderful to us wherever we went and treated us like locals.

Thus, I was stunned and saddened when I saw that Ireland was under attack due to global warming. With the natterjack toad, slipper lobster, and Chinese mitten crab having established beachheads around the Emerald Isle, I fear that the country we only recently visited has been lost forever.

From the Independent.ie

By Paul Melia

Friday September 05 2008

Aliens have landed – and they’re thriving

An emperor dragonfly

ALMOST three dozen alien species are thriving in Ireland because of global warming and record rainfall levels.

Among species that have become a common feature of Irish wildlife are the Chinese mitten crab, bank vole, mourning dove, emperor dragonfly, natterjack toad, trigger fish and slipper lobster.

A TG4 documentary series, ‘Coimhtioch Gan Cuireadh’ or ‘Alien Invaders’, will show how some of the species arrived here only recently while others turned up generations ago.

John Murphy, of Waxwing Wildlife Productions which made the six-part series, said one new arrival was the greater white-toothed shrew, which had probably arrived in the roots of imported trees and were now thriving in counties Tipperary and Limerick.

The collared dove, cattle egrets and blackcap are new examples of birds; and slow worms, which are only found on the reclaimed meadow fringes of the Burren, were reportedly brought over by British hippies in the early 1970s. Alien fish species are appearing in greater numbers, including the grey triggerfish which hails from the tropical Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Perhaps some will falsley blame British hippies from the 1970s for the chaos that is now Ireland. In reality, however, they can only be blamed for replacing the famed Irish sprint worm with the inferior slow worm. Such narrow-mindedness obscures reality, for only global warming could deliver the trigger fish and collard dove to these shores.

33 thoughts on “'Coimhtioch Gan Cuireadh' have Irish in a Dander

  1. The collared dove now breeds north of the arctic circle, its extention of range is usually considered due to the demise of other species as far I thought.
    I must be narrow minded…..Although in all my years, the climate of the British Isles has remained pretty constant. That’s usually wet with the odd great summer and the odd harsh winter.

  2. I trust that this is a firmly tongue in cheek contribution to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ book.
    Oh the horror of it all – paradise lost.
    Just consider how volcanic islands that rise above the ocean’s surface and, in the course of several years, are populated by “alien” species. There are so many vectors that can introduce “alien” species to new barren islands. Come to think of it, I would say that most every small island is populated by “alien” species. And in so-called stable environments, we’ve often heard of how human civilization acts as a vector for “invasive” species.

  3. No. On second thoughts, don’t go to badger. Once you have gone there, your soul is lost. You will be condemmed to return every now and then.
    Badger Badger Badger Muuush-rooom Aieeaa Snake snake!!!
    It is compelling. Worthy of a scientific disertatiion.

  4. Obviously most of these examples are due to modern transportation rather than climate change. I would hardly blame the rabbits and cane toads in australia on climate change. One example that did occur to me as possibly due to climate change, was the red kite in northern ireland, which would thrive in a warmer environment.

    Funny how “pest” species are due to climate change, while something like the reintroduction of the red kite is an environmental triumph. Shows AGW is essentially bull.

  5. Ireland has been a receptacle of ferals since before the days of the Vikings.
    An ancestor of mine was sent there by James 1st with a small band of pursuaders to collect taxes.
    It’s been downhill ever since.

  6. Alien species introduced from New World to Old:
    Maize
    Potato
    Tomato
    Tobacco
    Syphilis
    Alien species introduced into North America from Europe:
    Small Pox
    Starling
    Alien species introduced into North America from Asia:
    Hostas
    Peaches
    Alien species introduced into Asia from South America:
    Rubber tree
    Chinchona tree (source of quinine)
    Alien species introduced into Europe from Asia:
    Tulips
    Those poor Irish. Wait until the fast worm shows up (What’s holding them up?}. Don’t forget the designs of the spineless french crab on the Green Isle.

  7. No surprise to find the dragonfly in Ireland I think
    http://www.arkive.org/species/ARK/invertebrates_terrestrial_and_freshwater/Anax_imperator/more_info.html
    This dragonfly has a broad global distribution; it is found in Europe from Portugal to Germany in the north, and extends eastwards to central Asia (1). It is also known from North Africa and the Middle East (2). In Britain, it is fairly widespread in southern England and south Wales, but becomes quite scarce in the north Midlands, although there are signs that the species is currently extending northwards (1).
    And it is well known that crabs and other sea animals are spread around the globe via ballast water tanks of commercial ships.

  8. Trigger fish have been caught from the coast of the British Isles for a great many years… they are mentioned in a book I have, published in 1904.
    Nothing to do with Climate change, more to do with ocean currents.

  9. Another example of an alien species delivered to North America: Earth worms. These very beneficial creatures are not native. They were brought over in the potted plants via settlers from Europe and Asia.

  10. The Collared Dove was here long before GW. It spread out of India into Europe about a century ago.
    Ireland was notable for record rainfall – where did those peat bogs come from ?
    This GW stuff is so depressing the way they constantly harp on about it. I am going through a phase of wanting to scream and throw thing !

  11. Eucalyptus is non-native in my native California, but of course it thrives there. If you were to remove the trees and their characteristic smell from the hills and valleys where it grows there you’d be playing God in a way that wouldn’t appeal to me.
    There are instances where the obsession with native species, and their eradication, make sense, but by and large articles like the one here appear to reflect a fear of change, if not a desire to travel back in time to some mythical era before species started moving around the globe.

  12. All hope is lost as the planet slowly cooks. Man has destroyed the planet and in the end will die out and the planet will heal. Man caused the orgianl ice ages as well and is evil. Man was on Mars at one time and destroyed it as well. Man was on all the planets and look at them now. The moon is a pefect example of mans destructive abilites.
    Large amounts of CO2 that are exhaled by man has caused most of the destruction. Driven by evil, man created additional CO2 generating devices to speed up the destruction. In the end man will move on to another planet and the cycle will start all over.
    Not…….

  13. Blackcaps were already breeding in Ireland in the nineteenth century. Collared Doves have been expanding from an origin in the Middle East for about a century.

  14. Uh,
    Lobster boil.
    Crab cakes.
    Toad legs.
    Anybody who drinks Guiness won’t have a problem with any of these.
    And theres plenty of beaches that probably have drift wood for bonfires.
    I’m thinking might not be such a bad thing.
    Dill Weed

  15. haddock,
    Trigger fish are occasionally caught in Rhode Island, USA (southern New England) in late summer. They arrive on eddies that break off from the Gulf Stream as I understand it. I believe they die off with the winter cooling as they may not have learned how to swim south.

  16. When Ireland became an island at the end of the ice age it was still quite cold so many species which are found in Britian and the European mainland had not made it to Ireland. Many of the species which are at home in Ireland have been introduced since the first people arrived. Introduced sub tropical plants do suprisingly well on Irelands coast due to the warm currents

  17. 1. I think the human directed transportation driven species movements around the Globe masks the fact that there are several interesting natural factors that induce species movements including:
    a) Natural extreme weather events. Example: In New England, Hurricane Gloria in 1985 blew the Woody Adelgid (insect) from long Island into Connecticut. This insect attacked the Eastern Hemlock (Tree) and rapidly spread north. ( Note this insect may have come here unnaturally, but the Hurricane accelerated its move)
    b) Natural 10-50 year climate changes. (bucketizing this period of time is due to the human interest aspect .. that folks would notice these in their lifetimes). In the NE USA, I recall the increased population of Turkey Vultures as potentially having a natural cause.
    c) Long term climate change induced changes….
    d) Natural Biological events. I think this is one of the more interesting and perhaps more difficult to understand because many that appear to be purely biologically driven may actually be weather/climate driven. Blooms of the toxic “Red Tide” algae seem to be one example, although some blooms it may be weather or man induced.
    2. I believe that there is a misconceived view of the absolutely stable ecosystem that hurts the ability of people to objectively evaluate changes. It perhaps is a major contributor to the extreme and even the moderate Environmentalists positions.

  18. Unless they are somehow destructive to human civilization, such as eating crops, infesting houses, causing diseases and so forth, I very much miss the point of people being alarmed at the presence of new species. A species only has a home area because that area provides it with what it needs to live and reproduce. If that area expands, so does the home area. The sentimentality is really suprising. Change is rule of Nature, not the exception, yet we seem to want our local and regional habitats to be as nostalgic as we are. That is simply not how Nature functions. And if Nature provides us with tougher pests, we will simply find better ways to kill them. That is the nature of man. The thing that worries me is that the EU will issue some environmental legislation that ends up harming business interets because that area has become the habitat of some rare but alien species that now makes its “home” there and, therefore, must not be disturbed.

  19. the trigger fish migration is late this year, people posting on the angling forums here in the UK have noted this, probably by about a month, I saw some last week although divers had reported them a week or so earlier.
    Pete, You could be correct about their navigational abilities, they are found washed up in winter in the Bristol Channel and in Cardigan Bay.
    Why they would want to come to England in the summer beats me.

  20. Bobby Lane,
    Invasive species exert a significant influence on agriculture, human health and economics. A quick google search of “Economic impacts of invasive species” will result in many telling studies and papers. Here in northern California, almost 1/3 of arable agricultural lands in the northern central valley are all but non-usable because of one single species (Yellow Star-thistle). In northeastern California, much of the Susan River Valley is unusable for livestock because of Perennial Peppergrass and Whitetop. Spread of multiple introduced fruit-fly species from southern California into the Central Valley threaten more than 30 agricultural crops, potentially impacting more than $4billion per year in industry. Japanese Beetles destroy lawns and landscaping across the east and south, Glassy-winged sharpshooters threaten grapes, the East Coast Gypsy Moth has completely denuded millions of acres of eastern deciduous forest, Introduced mitten crabs threaten to destroy thousands of miles of levees and public water-works in California.
    These are just a few examples off the top of my head. All over the United States (and the world), there are many invasive species that threaten food and fibre, fishieries, wildlife populations, human health, our quality of life and our economy. And…they are not “easily killed”.
    Of course, there are benign invasions, but most become serious problems to humans. Do some easy online research; you will readily see that invasive species are a serious threat to our well-being. If you want to call that sentimentality, so be it. Some call it reasonable concern about real economic/ecological problems.
    John D.

  21. John D.,
    I believe I started my posting off this way:
    “Unless they are somehow destructive to human civilization, such as eating crops, infesting houses, causing diseases and so forth…”
    I grant many of your assertions without the need for any research on my own part. The point is simply this: we’ll either adapt or we will suffer the consequences of not doing so. Humanity has been so succesful as a species because of our intelligence and our ingenious ways of adapting things to fit our needs and desires. It is quite possible that we will not be able to eradicate certain pests, of course, and that poses short-term problems of varying significance.
    But you make my point for me. We want things to be like we think they were: easy and predictable. Nature is neither of these things most of the time. We may suffer greatly for these pests, but eventually Nature will adapt to the changes. How it does so is the interesting question, but it will. Whether we do so, and how we do so, is an even more interesting question. And yes, it certainly is sentimentality to want things to always stay the way we remember them. They just don’t do that. And I am as affected by said sentimentality as anyone else – I just recognize it for what it is.
    We are already experimenting with GM products. While they sometimes do leave much to be desired, and at times have unpleasant affects, we are learning from our failures as much as from our successes. The spirit I am criticizing is that spirit that expects things to be easy simply because we have advanced as far as we have, and we enjoy the lifestyle that we do (in this nation at any rate) because of our advancements. We are tempted to think that after struggling a great deal, when we come to an easy patch, that that ought to be the rule of things because our past struggles make us think we have reached our due. That simply is not the case.
    Do many alien invasive species present a threat. Yes, at present they do. Africanized bees are a great example of this. Kudzu is another. But it isn’t supposed to be easy, and things are not supposed to stay unchanged. And if much of the arrival of these species is due to human activity, then we really only have ourselves to blame for it. So my previous posting stands.

  22. BobbyL.,
    I agree with you completely on almost every point. As a biologist with specialization in floristics, entomology, and biogeography, I’m well aware of the dynamic nature of nature. As an amateur historian, I’m well aware of our “past struggles and current place in time”. As such, I’ve never really been concerned about the rebound and dynamics of the natural system. Indeed, nature will be fine and will readjust. I strongly agree with you though, as to whether or not/how we do so is the more interesting question. That’s where my sentiment lies.
    Yes, there is a sentimental aspect to our relationship with nature, just as there is with art, music, architecture, literature, fine food and beverages and all of the other wonderful things that enrich our lives. This sentimentality, recognized for what it is, is important to our being; it’s central to humanity. But this sentimentality abou tnature doesnot necessarily equate to a desire for an easy-way out…does it?
    With regard to faith in our intelligence and ingenuity, we may differ a little in our views, perhaps not. I’d like to be more optimistic. But we have to be aware of the “Law of Unintended Consequence”. Nothing we’ve ever done in the natural world, from antibiotics, to the internal combustion engine, to the free-market economy, has ever worked out exactly the way we thought it would (we have evolved completely resistant tuberculosis, we are addicited to foreign oil, and we are borrowing $1Billion a day from China to fund our oil imports and wars).
    As a result, we’ve gotten ourselves into some fixes that will really require some fancy-dancing to adapt to. With regard to our success as a species; we’ve been here as for far too brief a period to make the final verdict!
    E.g., if we actually enter into one of the well-documented paleo-droughts that have affected the western U.S. so many times in the last 35,000 years, what will Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles do? Yes, these urban centers are monuments to our imagination and ingenuity. But imagine a population doubled or tripled in the next 50 years, and then decades on end without more than 1 or 2 inches of precipitation annually? Yes untold millions might adapt, migrate or die…maybe. Like a world where rich native assemblages of flora and fauna are quickly replaced by simplistic assembalges of thorny weeds, poisonous toads and slimy eels, it won’t be much fun, it won’t be pretty, and yes importantly, it won’t be easy. Call me sentimental!
    With regard to your “main concern” mentioned in your initial post, I highly doubt the EU will create protective legislation for any alien species, no matter how rare. There is no precident for this in the realm of conservation biology, anywhere in the world as far as I’m aware at least…not even here in wacky-old California! If you’ve got an example of this happening, I’d be interested in learning about it.
    Best regards,
    John D.

  23. “Jack Simmons (22:44:04) :
    Alien species introduced from New World to Old:

    Syphilis
    …”
    I believe that syphilis was introduced from Old World to New; other wise I agree with your comments.

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