Non-native Seaweed Threatens Hawaiian Species
August 23, 2005 -- An alien seaweed has spread throughout Hawaii, even invading the normally pristine Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The non-native species, Hypnea musciformis, is piling up on beaches, choking reefs, and engulfing local algae. If left unchecked, the seaweed could greatly damage islands that are home to more than 70 percent of America's coral reefs and various endangered species.
The seaweed was introduced from Florida in 1974 for aquaculture purposes. After several failed attempts to commercially cultivate it, the seaweed was abandoned in Kaneohe Bay where it spread throughout Hawaii.
A National Research Council report, Predicting Invasions of Nonindigenous Plants and Plant Pests, examines the characteristics of non-native species that make them more or less likely to become invaders in the United States and recommends strategies to improve our ability to predict and prevent invasions.