Burrs of the bidgee widgee plant.
Spreading aliens, Arctic experience, and Antarctica
27 September 2011
This week in the Planet Earth Podcast: how hikers and walkers could be unwittingly changing the landscape by spreading alien species; what it's like to work as a marine biologist in the Arctic in temperatures of minus 40°C; and exactly how stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?
Alien, or invasive, species are plants and animals that spread so much they cause problems for local biodiversity. Japanese knotweed, the grey squirrel and the harlequin ladybird are all examples of species that have been brought into the UK.
But invasive species aren't just a UK problem; they're now recognised as a major threat to biodiversity around the world. In a recent study, scientists calculated that hikers in one Australian national park could be spreading as many as two million invasive plant seeds on their socks alone in just one season. Sue Nelson goes to the River Thames in Oxfordshire to find out a bit more about why this study has its roots in the Dorset coastline.
In our latest audio diary, Ceri Lewis from the University of Exeter reports from the Catlin Arctic Survey, where she found out how tiny marine creatures called copepods are adapting to climate change. She talks us through the challenges of doing science at minus 40°C.
Click the play button above to listen now.
A full text transcript is available.
Finally, Richard Hollingham goes to Exeter to find out how cosmic rays can help geologists figure out how stable the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is.
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