Thank you for allowing my comments about Government response to introduced species.
My 20 year environmental background involves limnic, lotic and benthic biomonitoring and water quality monitoring for NGOs and the University of Guelph.
I have been involved in the Ontario Stewardship Program as well as various habitat restoration, mapping and demonstration projects.
As a person from Southwestern Ontario who lives close to a wetland ecosystem, Rondeau Bay, I've witnessed successive waves of introduced species, like Eurasian Milfoil, Zebra Mussels, Round Goby, European Frogbit, Typha x Glauca hybrid, Purple Loostrife, and Haplotype M Phragmites.
Terrestrial landscapes have been permanently altered by introduction of Lumbricinia Earthworms, Wild Garlic Mustard, Japanese Barberry, Buckthorn and Siberian Squill.
With time and little disturbance aquatic and terrestrial habitats adapt to, and integrate introduced species.
The degree of "invasiveness" of any species is dependent on the niche width it occupies, limiting factors like nutrients, light and pH which change over time, inter-species and intra-species competition for limited resources and most importantly human disturbance. Even Spicebush can behave as an invasive species in disturbed forest swamps.
Of all factors, Human settlement patterns and economic activity are the major ongoing contributor to biodiversity loss and habitat destruction.
As with many introduced and locally invasive species like Phragmites, Crows or Canada Fleabane, selective pressure from human activities have provided niche conditions and genetic adaptation that promote an invasive response.
Over timescales beyond political mandates, if left with minimal human disturbance, ecosystems will integrate introduced species, diminishing their invasive behaviors.
So, if legislators and policymakers choose to -
"...provide additional powers to prevent the introduction and establishment of specific species... that pose an imminent risk to Ontario`s economy"
- then the specifics of any "additional powers" must be considered within a long term ecological context that recognizes integration of established, introduced species to living ecosystems.
Simply put, economic considerations are secondary to and are often at odds with ecological health and biodiversity.
Here in Rondeau Bay, we have record of misguided actions and disastrous consequences of chemical attacks on the fragile aquatic ecosystem.
These attacks, enabled by the MNR and MOE Approvals Branch resulted in the complete trophic collapse of the Rondeau Bay aquatic ecology.
They were, and continue to be promoted by private economic interests for some perceived short term economic gain. Usually elimination of a particular established plant and the promotion of the herbicide and pesticide industry.
The unscientific notions of "Elimination" or ongoing "Management" involved the sanctioned use of Non Selective herbicides like Aquatic 2-4D, Diquat Dibromide and Glyphosate. All of which failed to eliminate their intended target species and instead killed non-target native species.
Their application either directly or indirectly, resulted in net Biodiversity loss and facilitated an increased invasive response from species like European Frogbit or Purple Loostrife.
The management window within which targeted elimination of an introduced species remains realistic is inversely proportional to the growth rate times the niche width.
For some species, like Phragmites and Zebra Mussels we're long past that form of management.
Long term integration into functional ecologies must involve recognition of species specific, post-succession landscape features. To achieve Ecosystem Stabilization, legislators and policymakers must appreciate the contributions of human disturbance towards destabilizing ecologies, widening niche widths, and resetting succession cycles.
It is my hope that humility and understanding ecosystems within successional timescales will inform Ontario policy of the 21st Century.
Submitted February 21, 2020 11:48 AM