August 2011: Cattail Hybridization

Since the mid 1900s, managers have noticed an increase in cattail populations in wetlands managed for wildlife. Research has shown that increased nutrient levels and more stable water levels have hastened their expansion. We were interested in assessing the role of hybridization in cattail invasions. We sought to determine the prevalence and size of hybrid cattail clones within 6 national parks of the Great Lakes region, as well as the ability of native plants to recover from the soil seedbank in 3 cattail-invaded sites. We applied a species identification method using species-diagnostic DNA (microsatellite) markers. These markers showed that hybrid cattails predominate in the southern and western Great Lakes region, but that they have been slower to colonize the central Great Lakes, and that, where present, first-generation hybrid clones spread vegetatively at the expense of other cattail clones. In addition, we found that the prevalence of hybrid cattails in the seedbank tends to mirror their prevalence in the adult cattail population, but that the seedbank nevertheless remains viable for many other native wetland plant species. Combined with various cattail management methods such as hand pulling, crushing, water level management, and herbicide applications, our results indicate that many wetland sites may still harbor the capacity to recover without the need for planting.


Steve Travis - Steve Travis is a Molecular Ecologist who has been using DNA evidence to study the spread of invasive hybrid cattail since 2004. He obtained his B.S. in Biology from Southern Oregon University (1986); his M.S. in Biology from Northern Arizona University (1990); and his Ph.D. in Biology from Northern Arizona University (1994). His current research activities focus on ecological genetic aspects of habitat restoration, species conservation, and the spread of invasive species, particularly in wetland ecosystems. This research emphasizes the role of biodiversity in maintaining the health, or promoting the spread of individuals, populations, and species covering a broad array of taxa.

Joy Marburger - Joy has been the research coordinator for the Great Lakes Research and Education Center for 9 years. She has been coordinating research projects at Indiana Dunes NL and 9 other Great Lakes Parks. She has facilitated 3 NSF research projects that include public outreach and education during the past 3 years. She coordinated research efforts to evaluate the role of native and exotic cattail hybridization as a mode of rapid invasion of wetlands in 6 Midwest national parks. Joy has implemented 36 research internships using the NSFs Research Experience for Undergraduates as a model.

Lisa Brush - Lisa is the Executive Director of The Stewardship Network. Lisa has been leading collaborative conservation initiatives in the nonprofit environmental sector for over two decades. In her role as co-founder and Executive Director of The Stewardship Network she has engaged thousands of professionals and volunteers in identifying community and conservation needs of the 21st century and determining strategic support The Network can provide. She has managed and overseen grant projects from federal and state agencies, as well as family and private foundations. She has been involved in all aspects of organizational management including foundation/agency relationships, grant based project funding, budget tracking, contract negotiation, implementation, accountability, project reporting and staff and board development. Lisa has facilitated strategic planning sessions, focus groups, citizen task forces, community visioning sessions, and public involvement and feedback meetings with groups ranging in size from four to four hundred. Lisa emphasizes tried and true in-person methods of bringing people together augmented by the use of cutting edge online technology. Lisa serves on numerous boards of directors, has a BA in Science in Society from Wesleyan University, an MS from University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a graduate of Michigan State University's Great Lakes Leadership Academy.

Webcast Date: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 12:00pm
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