1.The invasion of non-indigenous plants is considered a primary threat to integrity and function of ecosystems. However, there is little quantitative or experimental evidence for ecosystem impacts of invasive species. Justifications for control are often based on potential, but not presently realized, recognized or quantified, negative impacts. Should lack of scientific certainty about impacts of non-indigenous species result in postponing measures to prevent degradation? Recently, management of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), has been criticized for lack of evidence demonstrating negative impacts of L. salicaria, and management using biocontrol for lack of evidence documenting the failure of conventional control methods. Although little quantitative evidence on negative impacts on native wetland biota and wetland function was available at the onset of the control program in 1985, recent work has demonstrated that the invasion of purple loosestrife into North American freshwater wetlands alters decomposition rates and nutrient cycling, leads to reductions in wetland plant diversity, reduces pollination and seed output of the native Lythrum alatum, and reduces habitat suitability for specialized wetland bird species such as black terns, least bitterns, pied-billed grebes, and marsh wrens. Conventional methods (physical, mechanical or chemical), have continuously failed to curb the spread of purple loosestrife or to provide satisfactory control. Although a number of generalist insect and bird species utilize purple loosestrife, wetland habitat specialists are excluded by encroachment of L. salicaria. We conclude that negative ecosystem impacts of purple loosestrife in North America justify control of the species and that detrimental effects of purple loosestrife on wetland systems and biota and the potential benefits of control outweigh potential risks associated with the introduction of biocontrol agents. Long-term experiments and monitoring programs that are in place will evaluate the impact of these insects on purple loosestrife, on wetland plant succession and other wetland biota.
Fans of biographical criticism have a luxurious source in the works of Hans Christian Andersen. Like Lewis Carroll (and, to a lesser extent, Kenneth Grahame), Andersen was near-pathologically uncomfortable in the company of adults. Of course all three had to work and interact with adults, butall three really related well to children and their simpler worlds. Andersen,for a time, ran a puppet theater and was incredibly popular with children, and,of course, he wrote an impressive body of fairy tales which have been producedin thousands of editions since the 19th century.
Most everyone has read or at least knows the titles of many of Andersen’s works:”The Ugly Duckling,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Nightengale,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Match Girl,”and many others. Though, as with most folk and fairy tales, they strike adult re-readers much differently than they do young first-time readers.
Charming tales of ducks who feel awkward because they don’t fit in, only to exult in the discovery that they are majestic swans, gives child readers clearly-identifiable messages: don’t tease people because they’re different; don’t fret about your being different because some day you’ll discover what special gifts you have.
A closer, deeper look at many of Andersen’s tales (including “The Ugly Duckling,” which is not on our reading list), reveals a darker,harder, morepainful thread. People are often cruel and unfeeling, love is torturous–in general,the things of the material world cause suffering. There is often a happy ending, but it’s not conventionally happy. Characters are rewarded, but only after they manage (often through death) to transcend the rigors of the mortalworld.
Alaska’s Aleutian Islands have long been accustomed toshipwrecks. They have been part of local consciousness since a Japanese whaling ship ran agroundnear the western end of the 1,100-mile (1,800-km) volcanicarchipelago in 1780,inadvertently naming what is now Rat Island when the ship’s infestation scurried ashore and madeitself at home. Since then, there have been at least 190 shipwrecks in theislands.
In a sequence of bestsellers, including The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works, Pinker has argued the swathes of our mental, social and emotional lives may have originated as evolutionary adaptions, well suited to the lives our ancestors eked out on the Pleistocene savannah. Sometimes it seems as if nothing is immune from being explained this way. Road rage, adultery, marriage, altruism, our tendency to reward senior executives with corner offices on the top floor, and the smaller number of women who become mechanical engineers—all may have their roots in natural selection, Pinker claims. The controversial implications are obvious: that men and women mightdiffer in their inborn abilities at performing certain tasks, for example, or that parenting may have little influence on personality.
5.Never has the carbon footprint of multi-national corporations been under such intense scrutiny. Inter-city train journeys and long-haul flights to conduct face-to-face business meetings contribute significantly to greenhouse gases and the resulting strain on the environment.
The Anglo-US company Teliris has introduced a new video-conferencing technology and partnered with the Carbon Neutral Company, enabling corporate outfits to become more environmentally responsible. The innovation allows simulated face-to-face meetings to be held across continents without the time pressure or environmental burden of international travel.
Previous designs have enabled video-conferencing on a point-to-point, dual-location basis. The firm’s VirtuaLive technology, however, can bring people together from up to five separate locations anywhere in the world – with unrivalled transmission quality
6.A DOG may be man’s best friend. But man is not always a dog’s. Over the centuriesselectivebreeding has pulled at the canine body shape to produce what is often a grotesque distortion of the underlying wolf. Indeed, some of these distortions are, when found in people, regarded aspathologies.
Dog breeding does, though, offer a chance to those who would like to understand how body shape is controlled. The ancestry of pedigree pooches is well recorded, their generation time is short and their litter size reasonably large, so there is plenty of material to work with. Moreover, breeds are, by definition, inbred, and this simplifies genetic analysis. Those such as Elaine Ostrander, of America’s National Human Genome Research Institute, who wish to identify the genetic basis of the features of particular pedigrees thus have an ideal experimental animal.
7.The contemporary ministerial staffing system is large, active and partisan – far larger and further evolved than any Westminster equivalent. Ministers’ demands for help to cope with the pressures of an increasingly competitive and professionalised political environment have been key drivers of the staffing system’s development. But there has not been commensurate growth in arrangementsto support and control it. The operatingframework for ministerial staff is fragmented and ad hoc.