Examples of current and recent research projects
Risk assessment, control, and restoration research on aquatic invasive plant species
There are key gaps in our ability to prevent and control aquatic plant invasions and restore the ecological structure and function of impacted areas. To help address these gaps, this project focuses on priority aquatic invasive plant species in Minnesota. Findings are translated through outreach and extension to agency staff, lake service providers, lake associations, and others. The project will support prevention through assessment of spread risk to predict future invasions, control through laboratory and field investigations of AIS treatments, and restoration through evaluation of non-target herbicide effects and post-control vegetation recovery. Three species are targeted representing different stages of invasion in Minnesota: Potamogeton crispus (curly-leaf pondweed), Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian watermilfoil), and Nitellopsis obtusa (starry stonewort). Funding for this project was provided through the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. This project will form the basis for Mike Verhoeven's graduate research.
Papers: Esobar et al. 2016
Ecology and biology of invasive hybrid watermilfoils in northern tier waterbodies
In collaboration with U.S. Army Corps scientists, we are conducting field and laboratory research on growth, phenology, and competitive ability in the hybrid invasive species Myriophyllum spicatum x sibiricum (hybrid watermilfoil) relative to its parent species, the native M. sibiricum (northern watermilfoil) and non-native M. spicatum (Eurasin watermilfoil). This research is funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center.
Collaborative Research: Testing the effects of phylogenetic diversity on restoration outcomes in tallgrass prairie
In collaboration with researchers at Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum, we are investigating how plant community phylogenetic and functional diversity influence restoration outcomes in eastern tallgrass prairie. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation and helps support Becky Barak's dissertation work. Award abstract
Ecology, genetics, and management of non-native Phragmites australis (common reed)
We conducted research on the comparative ecology and population genetic structure of native vs. non-native Phragmites in the Chicago region and then developed a "crowdsourcing" project to partner with wetland managers throughout the U.S. to investigate Phragmites invasion and control efforts. This research was funded by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and helped support Amy Price's thesis work (M.S. 2011).
Relationships between vegetation condition and secretive marsh bird occupancy in natural and restored wetlands
We collaborated with wildlife biologists from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to investigate how plant-community composition, invasive species, and ecological restoration influenced use of wetlands by secretive marsh birds (Virginia Rail, Sora Rail, and American Bittern). This research was funded by the U.S. EPA and formed the basis for Wes Glisson’s thesis (M.S. 2012).
Papers: Glisson et al. 2015