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Science picks -- leads, feeds and story seeds (February 2003)

LEADS:
Tree Rings Track Tremors Through Time Using tree rings as a forensic tool, USGS scientists are gathering clues about landslides caused by earthquakes and other seismic events. The tree-ring records of 32 tilted and damaged conifers at three sites of landslides in southwestern Montana were examined and showed signs of disturbance that indicate landslides and periods of movement during the 20th century. Interestingly, the evidence of the slides and shifting of the Earth's surface found in many trees, occurred the year following significant earthquakes in the region. This would suggest that many of the landslide movements were triggered by, or are coincident with, earthquakes as much as 200 km (124 miles) from the study area. Tracking tremor-induced trauma in trees in such earthquake prone regions as California and Alaska may help to extend the seismic history back into prehistoric times. Paul Carrara (pcarrara@usgs.gov) 303-236-1287

Where is Kryptonite When You Need it! When non-native species invade an area, they can edge out native species because they have fewer parasites and less illness to contend with, according to two new USGS studies in the Feb. 5, 2003, issue of the journal Nature. When the invasive species leave their own native environment they also leave behind the pests and parasites that help to keep them in check. When they invade a new area, however, they have a distinct advantage because the native species have their own complement of parasites to deal with. For a kind of wild analogy, it's like Superman and kryptonite. If you'll recall, when Superman was on the planet Krypton, it was the kryptonite that kept Superman ordinary (his parasitic control). Freed from kryptonite on Earth, however, Superman gained super powers. In a sense, these are super species invading the landscape and we could use a little kryptonite! or maybe we need to go back to their native
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Contact: USGS Office of Communications
703-648-4460
United States Geological Survey
6-Feb-2003


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