To see the results of that long-ago event, area residents need travel no further than Southern Illinois’ majestic Shawnee National Forest, where Japanese Stiltgrass has taken up residence with a vengeance. The invasive plant carpets acres of the forest, crowding out other native plants, changing soil conditions and worsening fire hazards during dry years.
Researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have been working on the issue for years and played host to a summit that featured their colleagues from around the country. The results of the summit, in August 2010, are now contained in a recently Internet-published white paper paid for by a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The paper summarizes the many presentations, discussions and research presented at the summit and will serve as a valuable resource for land managers struggling to stem the Japanese Stiltgrass tide.
David Gibson, professor of plant biology at SIU Carbondale, said the University worked with the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area to organize the summit. The CWMA works in counties south of Interstate 64 to combat invasive plants and educate the public on the threat they pose.
About 75 people, including representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Natural Resources and other agencies, attended the two-day event, which included presentations and field trips, Gibson said. Then recently, doctoral student Karla L. Gage reviewed the taped presentations and images and put together the summary. The full paper can be found at OpenSIUC at http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/pb_reports/3/ and the River to River CWMA website at http://www.rtrcwma.org/stiltgrass/.
Japanese Stiltgrass first was discovered in the United States in 1919 as it grew along a streambed near a warehouse in Knoxville. An annual, it rises new from seed each year, growing long, thickly tangled branches several feet long.
“People figured it had been used as a packing material, like straw,” said Gage, a doctoral student in plant ecology from Selmer, Tenn., who summarized the summit and wrote the paper. “No one knows for sure how it got here.”
One thing for sure, however, is that once it gets somewhere, it’s hard to get rid of. The plant creates numerous tiny and sticky seeds, both in flowers and inside its branches, ensuring that the seeds not only spread by dispersing but also end up in the soil. Once in the soil, the seeds last about five years.
“So even if you go and clear out the plant one year it will keep coming back for several years after,” Gibson said.
The plant crowds out native species and there is some evidence that chemicals secreted by its roots negatively affect the nutrient cycle and the ability for other seeds to germinate, possibly hurting forest regeneration following fire events.
And fire is another problem where the plant is concerned.
“It can climb trees,” Gibson said. “The problem is that, although fire is generally a good thing in forest, when this plant dries out during the winter season it can provide a fire ladder leading up into the trees, where it can lead to crown fires.”
Gibson said the summarizing and disseminating the event will help land managers all over the country deal more effectively with Japanese Stiltgrass issues.
“A lot of the people who deal with this problem don’t do research; it’s not their job. So they need to know what the research is saying,” Gibson said. “As researchers, we ask basic questions about the biology and ecology of the plant, what it’s doing to the environment, how it’s dispersing. Other research might be applied, such as testing herbicides and other control methods.
“The hope is land managers can actually take that information and apply it to their situation,” he said. “So it’s an important communication between researchers and managers.”
Christopher Evans, coordinator of the River to River CWMA, works with agencies, organizations and individuals to manage invasive plants. He said SIU Carbondale’s help is critical to getting the message out.
“The University provided a great venue and staff support for the Stiltgrass Summit. Also, the Department of Plant Biology and Center for Ecology both participated by sponsoring and helping plan the summit,” Evans said.
“SIU Carbondale’s assistance helped attract the large attendance and great speakers that made this summit a success.”
Evans said the white paper would be an important tool for land managers who battle the Japanese Stiltgrass problem throughout the area.
“Accurate, up-to-date information on the biology, impacts and control is needed if we want to make the best decisions on spending time and resources toward management of invasive species,” he said.
Tim Crosby | Newswise Science News
Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction