Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Forest killer' plant study explores rapid environmental change factors

24.09.2012
Mikania micrantha, known as mile-a-minute weed or 'forest killer,' is an exotic, invasive species that spreads quickly, covering crops, smothering trees and rapidly altering the environment

It's called mile-a-minute weed or "forest killer." Mikania micrantha is an exotic, invasive species that spreads quickly, covering crops, smothering trees and rapidly altering the environment.

Researchers at Arizona State University are spearheading a four-year research project that will explore what factors cause people and the environment to be vulnerable to rapid environmental change, such as an invasion by Mikania. Study findings likely will serve as a harbinger of the future as humans increasingly experience abrupt, extreme conditions associated with climate change, said Sharon J. Hall, the study's co-principal investigator and Arizona State University School of Life Sciences associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"There are many communities that have to deal with and adapt to rapid change. Mikania is just one example. We're looking at how social and ecological forces in communities make them more resistant or vulnerable to rapid environmental change," Hall said. "Mikania is considered one of the world's worst invader weeds, and it is having a significant impact on agriculture in India and China. If there are crop species, it will grow over them. It grows extremely fast, up and over trees, as quickly as three inches per day."

The study, "Feedbacks Between Human Community Dynamics and Socioecological Vulnerability in a Biodiversity Hotspot," examines how the social and natural ecosystem surrounding Chitwan National Park of Nepal is being threatened by invasive plant species. It is funded by a $1,449,521 grant from the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program of the National Science Foundation.

Researchers will conduct the study in an area covering approximately 20 square miles in forests surrounding Chitwan National Park, a protected area that is home to many endangered species, including Bengal tiger and one-horned rhinoceros. The park borders populous communities and forests that the people use in their daily lives.

The study will also examine what people are doing to spread Mikania and how the plant affects people's lives. Collaborators on the study include: Abigail York, co-principal investigator and ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change assistant professor; Li An, San Diego State University; Dirgha Ghimire, University of Michigan; Jennifer Glick, ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics professor; and Sean Murphy, CABI, an international non-profit organization focused on solving agricultural and environmental problems through scientific expertise.

"What sets our research apart from most previous work on invasive species and human populations is that we are taking an integrated approach to examining the environment, people, and society at many different levels: individuals, households, landscapes, community governance organizations, and so-called 'non-family organizations' like marketplaces/stores, schools and employers," said Scott Yabiku, the study's principal investigator and ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Researchers are integrating a holistic, use-inspired approach into their study by observing and documenting the problem, using experimentation to tease apart driving forces, and implementing an intervention to reduce the spread of the species throughout the 21 community forests that border Chitwan National Park. Examining how people affect the forest's health and how the forest affects resident's livelihood will vary from an individual level to how forest management groups are addressing the problem.

"Not only are we thoroughly studying the social and ecological system surrounding the Chitwan National Park, we will also conduct experiments that test if an educational intervention with community forest groups can slow the spread of invasive species," Yabiku said. "At the end of the project, we'll implement this intervention in all remaining forest groups in the study area in the hopes that it has an impact on the well-being of the forests that these people rely on."

Mikania is a challenging adversary that can regenerate from dropping a small piece onto the soil. Possible interventions that may be implemented include carefully bagging the plant before removing it from the forest. Another practice that bears examination is use of fire in forest management, as this activity creates a nutrient rich environment that may encourage the spread of Mikania.

Contact:

Julie Newberg
Arizona State University
julie.newberg@asu.edu
(480) 727-3116

Julie Newberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>