Sunday, September 16, 2007

Class Project Website Debut!

The final version of the class project website is now available for your viewing pleasure. Thanks go out to the students from both Rick and me for all of the hard work they put into the species profiles. You guys should be proud!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reading for 5/14

Guest Speaker: Jay Baker, Coastal Zone Management, Northeast Aquatic Species Nuisance Panel

Reading Assignment: Please read IV. Management Objectives and Actions (pp. 32-53) in "The Massachusetts Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan" from the Massachusetts Aquatic Nuisance Species Working Group. Also, please skim the rest of the report to get an idea of what it covers.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Field Trip!

Rick scouted out the loading dock with you guys so we should be all set for meeting up at 4:30 sharp!!! on Wednesday.

We will be visiting wetland habitat in the Neponset River Watershed, where we will see no fewer than a dozen different invasive plant species, including Japanese knotweed, porcelainberry, Phragmites, perennial pepperweed, autumn olive, tree of heaven and purple loosestrife. Most of the species we spot will be at their humble spring beginnings (translation: not in flower). You are welcome to bring a camera and/or a field guide, if you have one. Rick and I will bring guides as well.

While high tide will be occurring right around our trip, we won't be venturing into the estuary (few invasive plants there!) so no need to wear your waders. That said, there will be dirt, sand, possibly a little mud, and some thorny things, so sensible shoes and clothes for being out in the field are recommended...and you will all be asked to "check your boat" and remove all plant propagules before leaving the site :-).

For an introduction to local invasive plant species, check out these websites:

Friday, May 4, 2007

Readings for 5/7

In Monday's class we will be covering invasive species outreach.

Our readings will come from this document:

Communicating Effectively About ANS Issues

Please read ALL of the following:
  • The introductory page
  • One of the four pilot projects (your choice of Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire or South Carolina). These are big files so just skim to get an idea of what the states were dealing with and note some specific projects.
  • The entire Recommendations section

The entire document is too large to print out. However, if you would like to download your own copy (10Mb file), you can do so here. Once you unzip that file, start with the file named MAINMENU.pdf.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Readings for 5/2

This Wednesday our guest speaker will be Beth Suedmeyer from the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program. Beth will be speaking about the state's purple loosestrife biocontrol project, which you can read more about here.

Readings for this class are:
  • "AN UPDATE ON THE BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE IN MASSACHUSETTS." 2007. by Beth Suedmeyer. AMWS newsletter, April. (sent to students via email)
  • "Indirect effects of host-specific biological control agents." by Pearson, D. E. and R. M. Callaway. 2003. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(9): 456-461. (pdf)
Guests are welcome for this lecture and discussion.

Links from Monday's class

Here are web links relevant to Monday's class:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Readings for 4/30

For Monday's class we will be covering chemical controls:

Chemical Controls

Pick one from Group A and one from Group B:

Group A
  • TNC's Weed Control Methods Handbook: Tools and Techniques for Use in Natural Areas
    • Chapter 6 (Herbicide Properties) (.pdf) + One section (A through K) from Chapter 7 (The Herbicides)

  • NIMPIS: Control options - Rapid Response Toolbox
    • Chemical Control (read whole page, click "More Information" for at least three techniques)
Group B

Monday, April 23, 2007

Readings for 4/25

Starting with Wednesday's class, we will be covering invasive species control methods. Up first: Physical Controls.

This week you have a smorgasboard of reading choices. Make your choices and email them to me before class on Tuesday.

Choose one from each group:

Group 1

  • TNC's Weed Control Methods Handbook: Tools and Techniques for Use in Natural Areas
    • Chapter 1 (Manual and Mechanical Techniques) (.pdf)

  • Plant Management in Florida Waters (Pick either Physical or Mechanical)

Group 2

Readings from 4/23

Modeling of Biological Invasions

Here are the readings from Monday's class, emailed out last week:

Since our "guest speaker" unfortunately couldn't make it due to internet difficulties, you might want to watch Curt Daehler's talk, Modeling Biological Invasions, on your own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Readings for 4/18

This week we will be discussing ecological impacts of invasive species. Pay attention to allusions to ecological impacts and try to come up with concrete examples we have covered in class.

Readings were sent out by email earlier this week, here are the details:

  • Flecker & Townsend. 1994. "Community-Wide Consequences of Trout Introduction in New Zealand Streams." Ecological Applications. 4(4): 798-807. (available via JSTOR if you are missing the email)
  • Gurevitch & Padilla. 2004. "Are invasive species a major cause of
    " (pdf) Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 19(9): 470-474.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Readings for 4/11

In Wednesday's class we will be discussing economic impacts of invasive species.


P.S. - Much of what you hear in the lecture comes from the following book chapter:

Naylor, Rosamond. (2000). The Economics of Alien Species Invasions. Invasive Species in a Changing World. H. A. Mooney and R. J. Hobbs. Washington D.C., Island Press: 351-368.

And if you are so inclined to learn more, our library does have a copy of the book.

Class 4/9

For Monday's class, we are lucky to have as out guest speaker Melinda Gammon, who will be discussing her research on Japanese knotweed. Papers were emailed to you last week.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Readings and Homework for 4/2 and 4/4

For Monday's class (4/2), we will be attending a thesis defense at 2:30pm, and then meeting at our regular time to discuss the talk and the paper that was handed out in class last week.

For Wednesday's class (4/4), you will be completing an invasive species pathway risk assessment. Pathways were selected last week - please contact me immediately if you do not have a pathway! Bring all related documents to class as we will be filling out the risk assessment there. This will be a graded assignment and is required to be done in class. We will be working with the National Invasive Species Council Pathways Work Team: Focus Group Conference Report And Pathways Ranking Guide that was handed out in class last week.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Homework for 3/28

(readings forthcoming?)

Rick has asked that:
"each of you look into any evidence that your species has ever or could potentially hybridize with related taxa...Look around for wide crosses (between subspecies or varieties even)...In introduced regions we saw that often introductions are from different regions of the native habitat. This, as you know, introduces greater variability and generates different combinations than are present in native regions."

Readings for 3/26

Rick will be lecturing this week, here is a recap of the readings for Monday (emailed by Rick to everyone last week):

  • "Hybridization as a stimulus for the evolution of invasiveness in plants?" by Ellstrand and Schierenbeck (2000) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 97(13): 7043-7050 (link)
  • "Hybridization, polyploidy and speciation in Spartina (Poaceae)." by Ainouche et al. (2003) New Phytologist. 161: 165-172. (link)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Readings for 3/14

For this class we will be taking a look at present invasive species vectors, with a focus on the type of organism you chose for your semester projects.

Each of you has been assigned two readings, based on the type of organism you are studying. That means some of the articles will only be read by one person, others will be read by many. You should be prepared to discuss the key points of your paper, and think about these questions: What are the specific pathways discussed? Are they obvious or obscure? Are they vectors for a few species or many?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Readings and Homework for 3/12

Reading for Monday, 3/12:

  • "Changes in the Sea." Chapter 5 in Elton, C. S. (1958). The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. London, Chapman and Hall, Ltd.
  • Fosberg, F. R. (1958). “Man as a dispersal agent.” The Southwestern Naturalist 3: 1-6.

Also, be prepared to discuss the vectors of introduction and spread for your adopted species.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

More about Butomus umbellatus

Rick spoke briefly about flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) in Monday's lecture - it's the species that was being compared with purple loosestrife. Both are typically emergent wetland plants - growing surrounded by water but rooted in the substrate. Flowering rush is a monocot in its own family, the Butomaceae. Like purple loosestrife, it is on the Massachusetts list of banned invasive plants.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it has also been the subject of an evolutionary study similar to the reed canary grass paper we will be discussing in class Wednesday. This is absolutely not required reading, but for those of you who are interested, here is the citation:

Brown and Eckert. 2005. "Evolutionary increase in sexual and clonal reproductive capacity during biological invasion in an aquatic plant Butomus umbellatus (Butomaceae)." American Journal of Botany. 92: 495-502.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Class for 3/7

On Wednesday we begin a new section in the syllabus, "Vectors of Invasion - The Early Years"


  • "The Crown's Relationship with Acclimatization Societies" Chapter 8 in Effective Exclusion?, a report prepared by the Waitangi Tribunal. Read pp. 495-512 (8.1 through 8.3.1) and 529-533 (8.8) (This is a large document, you do not need to print the entire thing)
  • "Weeds" - Chapter 7 in Crosby, A. W. (1986). Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Class for 3/5

Rick will be covering the second part of his section on invasive species and population genetics, papers were already assigned back when the class was originally scheduled. A note from him...

We are looking at population genetic factors that might be important in altering the evolutionary path (or trajectory) on an introduced species. We covered bottlenecks and inbreeding, factors that impact small populations. I gave some examples of these and discussed (briefly) how these are measured (with diversity statistics). We were then beginning to discuss some case studies. I will present some info on two Water Hyacinth and Cheatgrass (which Jenn mentioned last class as well) and then we will discuss the ants and other examples.

Later in the semester, I will be continuing this theme of "changing evolutionary trajectories" in a discussion of hybridization and rapid changes/responses to selection pressures.

In addition, there is a new article out about reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) that Rick sent out a copy of this weekend:

Lavergne, S├ębastien and Molofsky, Jane. 2007. "Increased genetic variation and evolutionary potential drive the success of an invasive grass." PNAS. 104(10): 3883-3888.

Please be sure to at least look at the abstract and figures of that paper if you do not have time to read the whole article.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Readings and Homework for 2/28

Direct Disturbance and its Effects on Invasion (Wednesday's class):

Also, come to class prepared to discuss the implications disturbance has had or is having on your adopted species.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Readings for 2/26

Topic: Indirect Disturbance and its Effects on Invasion (scheduling has led us to switch things around a bit and cover indirect disturbance before direct disturbance).

Our Guest Speaker for today will be Dr. Jeffrey Dukes. Readings are below...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Readings for 2/21

Getting back on track after the snow day and Monday holiday...

Wednesday we'll be covering the Enemy Release Hypothesis, the readings were originally assigned for a previous class.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Addendum to readings for 2/14

Rick has added one additional paper for discussion in class on 2/14:

Friday, February 9, 2007

Readings for 2/12/07-2/14/07

Rick will be lecturing this week, the assigned readings for Monday are as follows:

Rick says:

" Frankham 2003 first. This is a basic overview of small population dynamics as they apply to conservation biology. Think about why the dynamics of endangered species might be different from new introductions of invasives. In my lecture I will cover founder, drift and inbreeding. The second paper to read is Mooney and Cleland 2001. This is a quick review of evolutionary processes in invasive species. The third paper, Tsutsui 2003, is a case study on the Argentinian Ant invasion. Very unusual circumstances. Some of these discussions may flow into Wed's class and I may add one more paper for Wed. ."

Note that the discussion of these readings may extend into Wednesday's class, but there may also be one additional paper assigned for Wednesday.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Readings and Homework for 2/7


Homework: Be prepared to discuss the biological characteristics that are thought to have made your species a successful invader.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

10 Important Invasive Species Issues

The ten invasive species issues I covered in class 1/29 are now available online here. (Just a reminder that in general I will not be providing copies of the Powerpoint presentations I give in class, so take notes!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Readings for 2/5

Here are the readings for our next class:

2/5: The “ideal” invader – Biological characteristics that make a successful invader

Monday, January 29, 2007

Readings for 1/31/07

  1. Invasive Plant Pests Definitions and Criteria. (2004). NBII Southern Appalachian Information Node. [updated 1/30 at 9pm]
  2. A Guide to Designing Legal and Institutional Frameworks on Alien Invasive Species. Environment Policy and Law Paper No. 40 (.pdf file). (2000). IUCN. [Only read Section 1.1 (pp. 1-4). No need to print out the whole thing!]
  3. "On invading species and invaded ecosystems: the interplay of historical chance and biological necessity." di Castri (1990). In Biological Invasions in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. pp. 3-16. (.pdf)
  4. "Biological Invasions and Cryptogenic Species." Carlton, J. T. (1996). Ecology 77(6): 1653-1655. [Available via JSTOR]

Course Syllabus

You can download the course description and syllabus here (.pdf file). The syllabus is subject to change as we move forward through the semester.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Welcome to the BIOL 648 Weblog!

This weblog was created as a base of communication for BIOL 648 - Invasive Species: Ecology, Evolution & Management, a 3-credit, graduate level course at the University of Massachusetts Boston. It will provide students with links to reading and homework assignments, updates on special lectures and field trips, class discussions, and tips for the semester project.