Aliens and Underwater Volcanoes

This podcast from the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) Planet Earth Online collection looks at invasive species of plants and animals. Many of them are well-known. Grey squirrels, harlequin ladybirds, buddleia, Japanese knotweed - the list goes on.

Some of these aliens, or invasive species to give them their scientific name, aren't all bad however. Buddleia, for example, is also very good at attracting butterflies although it spreads like wildfire.

To find out more, Sue Nelson goes to Wallingford, home of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, to meet two invasive species experts, Dr Mark Hill and Dr Helen Roy.

Mark and Helen explain the problems and explain what might happen as global warming changes the climate and consider which species we will see more of and which are going to cause real problems.

Also in the programme, reporter Richard Hollingham talks to a man who is heading off to Antarctica to look for life around underwater volcanoes, also known as hydrothermal vents.

Dr Jon Copley from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton is a biologist with expertise in the huge variety of life around these vents.

In another report, Tamera Jones looks at how scientists may be a step closer to solving the mystery of the world's missing honeybees. A bee virus that has changed its behaviour may be to blame.

Also, how Native Americans might not have been as good at living harmoniously with Nature as is often thought, why eyespan matters for male (and female) stalk-eyed flies and pictures of albatrosses dining with killer whales.

This podcast is dated 19 October 2009.

NERC is a part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) partnership of research councils.

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