invasion – Asian carp

They’re called Asian carp, and they emigrated to the lower reaches of the Mississippi River in the 1970s. Now they’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, threatening to destroy one of the most valuable aquatic regions in the U.S., unless the often fractious Great Lakes states manage to pull together and keep them out.

The situation is so serious that the White House convened an “Asian carp summit” on Monday to work out a defense plan.

Asian carp — a collection of related fish, including bighead carp and silver carp — are what’s known as an invasive species, an animal or plant that moves into a new environment, often badly disrupting it.

Invasive species are becoming more common because of international trade, which turns the planet into a giant pinball machine, transplanting wildlife from one corner of the world to another, and because of climate change, which prompts species to migrate to more hospitable environments, often at the expense of those that already live there.

If the preventive efforts don’t work, you might want to put on a helmet the next time you go waterskiing on Lake Michigan.

Time, 2/9/10

see also – invasion!