fear of frogs: how not to think about sustainability

fear of frogs in hawaiiWhereas invasive species are a dominant threat to Hawaiian ecosystems, this doesn't mean that the all invasives are bad or that they deserve equal focus in any eradication campaign.

Some invasives are fatal for our native species, while others are benign, and our limited resources for combating the former shouldn't be squandered on the latter. Duh!...Which is what's happening with the coqui frog. Huh?

This little quarter-sized import from the Caribbean has gotten lots of media attention because of its "anoying" two-tone chirping, and government has been pouring money into its "control".

Other than the noise, there is little evidence this frog has a negative impact on island ecosystems. Recent research findings include:

Some homeowners on Maui and Hawai`i island (where the coqui is now rampant) report that wild chickens (which the islands have in spades) could be natural predators...which presumably means having to choose between chirping and crowing as a noise irritant.

There's even a book about the silliness behind this frog fuss and how the various control schemes (bulldozers, chainsaws, acid, and caustic lime) may do more damage than the frogs.

That hasn't stopped the State from pouring millions into eradication initiatives, and the otherwise exemplary invasive species group on Kauai recently asked the County Council for another $300,000 to beat back a small colony in Lawa`i.

Surely we can do better than this in thinking through how everything is connected and focusing our priorities for limiting the most significant threats.

Published by Ken on October 28th, 2006 tagged HI-specific, Systems Thinking

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