Monday, June 25, 2007

Purple Passion

One more plug for citizen science projects from the conference at Cornell:

Got purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in your neighborhood? If so, the US government needs you to help answer important questions about the invasiblity of this plant.

Back in 2003, the USGS partnered with the Great Lakes Research and Education Center to create a citizen science project to monitor purple loosestrife in the Midwest. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Joy Marburger about the Purple Loosestrife Volunteers program and found her to be very passionate about it. But you don't have to be from the Midwest or even the USA to join in - they are seeking volunteers from all over the world.

Dr. Beth Middleton from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center has undertaken the job of compiling all the data, in order to assess the characteristics of purple loosestrife in both its native and introduced range. The program is looking for people who are willing to locate loosestrife populations and make a few simple observations, such as plant height, number of stems per plant, and tree canopy cover. The data could be used to determine, for example, whether the range of purple loosestrife will be altered by climate change (by taking a look at the vigor of plants along the edge of purple loosestrife's range). To learn more, check out the project homepage - contact info for Beth is at the bottom.

1 comment:

David in NY said...

In the northeast, what I've been struck by is that in many wetlands purple loosestrife took over from native species and has in turn been overwhelmed by Phragmites. I've been traveling 60 miles of Route 22 in New York along the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders for nearly 30 years. At the beginning of this period, purple loosestrife had moved into the area or was fast moving in. In some wetlands along the road it came to completely dominate. I'm not sure when the change came, but now it's just gone in most areas, including roadside ditches, nearby wetlands, and so on. It has been replaced by uniform stands of Phragmites. Those who think purple loosestrife poses the biggest threat to wetlands might take note.