Miami Botanist's Research on Invasive Species Highlighted

Posted on: Thu, 03/24/2011 (All day)

Research on the invasive shrub Japanese wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) by David Gorchov, professor of botany at Miami University, was recently featured as Invasive Species of the Week on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Invasive Species Specialist Group's website for March 14-21.

Gorchov, with Douglas Noe, assistant professor of statistics, and colleagues from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), investigated the role of localized disturbance, specifically treefalls, in the invasion of Japanese wineberry in a deciduous forest. They found that while the shrub requires disturbances such as treefalls to establish in forests, the established plants can survive under canopy closure, leading over time to invasion of the entire forest.

The study authors suggest that forest managers can prevent Japanese wineberry invasion by monitoring large gaps for new invasions every three years. Japanese wineberry is listed as invasive in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.

The study, “Treefall gaps required for establishment, but not survival, of invasive Rubus phoenicolasius in deciduous forest, Maryland, USA” was published in Plant Species Biology (first published online March 2011).

Gorchov is the primary investigator on a recent grant awarded from the Center for Tropical Forest Science to expand research on invasion patterns and processes of Japanese wineberry and three other invasive plants in deciduous forests.

He is also involved in research on the invasion dynamics of Amur honeysuckle, with Mary Henry, associate professor of geography, and Oscar Rocha of Kent State University. Their research, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative grant, involves an innovative use of remote sensing approaches to determine the historical spread of the shrub. They also investigate how landscape patterns, such as forest fragmentation, shape the pattern and rate of invasion of Amur honeysuckle.

They will develop a model to predict the likelihood of new invasions of honeysuckle in stands (woodlots and forests) at the edge of the current range. Ultimately their model will enable land managers to predict which stands of forest will most likely be invaded by honeysuckle, and therefore focus monitoring, detection and early eradication efforts at the sites with the highest risk.

Story reprinted courtesy of the Miami University News and Public Information Office

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