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Not every plant or critter in Maine’s forests, fields, and waters is beneficial to the state’s complex ecosystems. Later this month, Colby’s commitment to addressing environmental issues — including invasive species — will be highlighted when the College hosts the annual meeting of the Maine Invasive Species Network. Professionals from around the state will come together Wed., March 22, to share the latest news about threats and regulations, hear presentations on forest insects, agricultural pests, terrestrial plants, aquatic plants, and marine organisms, and find out what’s working in invasive species management.
“Invasive species are a major threat to native biodiversity,” said Colby Professor of Biology Judy Stone. “We all need to work together to find ways to prevent their introduction and manage their impacts on our forests, fields, estuaries, and backyards.”
Stone, along with Abby Pearson, an environmental studies laboratory instructor, leads students into the field to identify and eradicate invasive species.
One such invasive plant pull was part of a day of service for first-year students’ orientation last fall. Students used maps created by previous classes to locate and pull invasives on Colby’s 714-acre campus. Stone has also overseen three honor theses on the subject, including one by Juvenal Lopez ’16 of Los Angeles, who is currently in a microbiology Ph.D. program at Washington University.
These experiences engage students in the real-world laboratory that is Maine, conducting research, interacting with professionals, and having a direct, positive impact on the ecosystem. Multidisciplinary studies relating to the environment and to climate change are also supported by partnerships with the Maine Lakes Resource Center, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Herring Gut Learning Center, and Up East foundation, which manages Allen Island off the coast of Port Clyde, Maine.
Stone and Pearson will attend the meeting, which is expected to draw 60-70 attendees and is sponsored by Colby’s Biology Department, Stantec, Maine Association of Wetland Scientists, TRC, Maine Landscape and Nursery Association, Society for Ecological Restoration, Crop Production Services-Timberland Division, Dow Agrosciences, and Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.
Gary Fish, state horticulturist, will discuss the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s recently completed list of 33 terrestrial invasive plants to be prohibited from sale in Maine starting in 2018.
The Maine Invasive Species Network is a network of professionals, including researchers, managers, foresters, biologists, practitioners, and educators, in addition to some dedicated volunteers. “Faculty at the University of Maine were instrumental in founding the Network in 2009, to share research, spread awareness of new pests, and promote education and outreach about invasive species,” noted Andrei Alyokhin, professor and director of the School of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine.