What started with 16 of the most ominous land-based (and some aquatic wildcard) invasive species has been whittled down to one champion: The emerald ash borer, also known as, The Green Menace.
About 75 brave souls filled out brackets choosing what they thought was the worse invasive species of the Great Lakes region. The competitors included various exotic birds, insects, plants and mammals.
In the end, 21 bracketeers correctly chose the green-plated insect. Ninety percent of pollsters agreed.
But that doesn’t mean that the six-legged foe is the worst. Here at Echo, we realize that all invasive species pose potentially devastating threats to the Great Lakes region’s native ecosystems.
“Even though we’re picking winners they’re really all losers,” said Echo’s Alice Rossignol in a WDET interview. “It’s just that we’re trying to get people to be more aware and learn about these species a little bit more.”
And it seems that that goal was reached.
“Thanks for the great contest idea,” said Ernie Delemeester, advisor of Michigan’s New Lothrop High School Ecology Club, wrote in an e-mail. “My students had a lot of fun discussing both serious and fanciful reasons for the outcome!”
But according to the experts a true contender didn’t even make it the bracket.
“You should include worms because in terms of invasive species that are having catastrophic impact and have a lack of control ….it’s definitely under appreciated,” said Andrea Diss-Torrance, gypsy moth and invasive forest insect program coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “This is one of the biggest threats we have.”
Diss-Torrance says that invasive worms can alter an ecosystem by making it harder for soil to hold water.
“It’s really amazing to go to some areas where these worms have established…the forest floor is stripped bare as if someone has taken a rake to it,” Diss-Torrance said.
For choosing the competitors that did make the bracket, some people took a scientific approach:
“In my field studies [the house sparrow] is the number one terrorist bird proceeding to breed from inner cities and now going out to boxes in rural areas…Deadly they are! Wipe them out!,” Thomas, an Echo reader, commented on the website.
But others turned to humor in the face of adversity.
Like Joe Grimm, a visiting instructor at Michigan State University.
“Mute swans, they rule, brown-headed cowbirds, they drool,” Grimm wrote on his bracket.
“I went by the uniforms,” he added.