Monday, December 5, 2011

Invasive Species Resources for Kids

The Invasive Plant Council of British Columbia has developed great resources for teaching kids about invasive species. To find out more and to access printable activity sheets, see there website at

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Non-invasive" cultivar? Buyer beware

October 2011 Issue of BioScience

Read the full article (PDF)

Cultivars of popular ornamental woody plants that are being sold in theUnited States as non-invasive are probably anything but, according to an analysis by botanical researchers published in the October issue of BioScience. Tiffany M. Knight of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and her coauthors at the Chicago Botanic Garden write that the claims of environmental safety are in most cases based on misleading demographic evidence that greatly underestimates the plants' invasive potential. What is more, the offspring of cultivars do not usually "breed true" and may be more fecund than their parents, especially if they cross with plants from nearby feral populations.

Many invasive plants were once ornamental cultivars, because the characteristics that the "green" industry looks for are the same ones that make a plant potentially invasive-being adaptable to wide range of conditions, forming dense stands good for erosion control, and having a long flowering period, for example. In recent years the nursery and horticultural industries have responded by creating cultivars of top-selling plants that produce reduced numbers of viable seed and are advertized as "safe to natural areas." Such cultivars of Japanese barberry, buckthorn, and burning bush are now widely sold, as they avoid bans on growing invasive species.

Yet simple population modeling demonstrates that reductions of even 95 percent in the number of viable seed will leave a long-lived species quite capable of spreading-and many of the new cultivars do not achieve even that much of a reduction. More sophisticated modeling would likely reveal even stronger invasive potential of the "safe" cultivars. Knight and her coauthors conclude that only completely sterile cultivars can be consideredtruly safe without further testing, and that other types should be tested for breeding true and having a low growth rate before they are sold as non-invasive.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Citizens for Conservation - Invasive Species Flyers

The Citizens for Conservation Community Education Committee has produced several great lfyers on invasive species. You can find links to these flyers at:

Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership Helps Communities with Invasive Plants

Original article found at:

Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership Helps Communities with Invasive Plants

By Cathy McGlynn

Regional Invasive Plant Organization Celebrates Anniversary

Glencoe, IL (October 11, 2011) – A newly established regional organization recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Partners in the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) prevent and detect new invasions, control and manage existing invasive plants, and educate people about how to reduce intentional introductions and unintentional transport of invasive plants. The first annual meeting took place in September at the Morton Arboretum.
“NIIPP has fostered collaborations among organizations that have not worked together before and will continue to develop relationships that will promote control and management of invasive plants on both sides of property boundaries.” Cathy McGlynn, Coordinator, Northeast Illinois Invasive Plants Partnership

At the meeting, Illinois Department of Transportation District 1 presented its plan for coordinated control and management of invasive plants in rights of way and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources provided information about its new Conservation Corps. These and additional presentations can be found at
NIIPP works in conjunction with the New Invaders Watch Program (NIWP), an early detection and rapid response program that trains natural areas managers, volunteer stewards, and other interested people to identify twenty-one invasive plants that are currently rare in this region ( Many of these trainees register to become monitors for NIWP and report populations of new invaders so that landowners can be made aware of potential invaders in the vicinity of their properties. Since the beginning of this program in 2003 more than 1500 people have been trained. NIIPP also works with River to River CWMA ( to send out statewide alerts about the arrival of new invaders and most recently sent out an alert about Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), a recent arrival to the Northeastern Illinois region

In addition to NIWP trainings in the natural resource community, NIIPP is collaborating on several outreach and education programs about more established invaders as well as aquatic and ornamental invasive species. In May of this year 18 NIIPP partners organized more than 31 garlic mustard pulls as part of the US Forest Service Garlic Mustard Challenge and handily won the challenge by pulling 52,000 lbs. of garlic mustard and raising public awareness about invasive plants during Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month. In addition, IL-IN Sea Grant and NIIPP are working to develop and establish a statewide Clean Boats, Clean Waters program ( that educates boaters, anglers, and recreational watercraft users about aquatic invasive species and how not unintentionally transport them from water body to water body. The Midwest Invasive Plant Network, Chicago Botanic Garden, The Nature Conservancy, Chicago Department of the Environment, and NIIPP are collaborating on an education and outreach campaign about intentional introductions of ornamental plants that have the potential to escape from landscaped areas and invade natural areas. Our target audience is green industry (garden centers and nurseries) and its consumers. Development of the program will begin this fall.

The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership intends to work toward the prevention and control of new plant invasions, control and manage current invasions, support informed management decisions, and raise public awareness concerning the threat posed by invasive plants. NIIPP’s goal is to minimize the adverse impacts invasive plants have on our open lands and waters in northeast Illinois, especially on native habitats and their native plants and wildlife. NIIPP is poised to expand the reach of its efforts in the coming year, bringing a regional plan to fruition.

Eight years ago the idea of a regional cooperative weed management area started to take form in the minds of natural areas managers in Northeast Illinois. In 2010, as a result of federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) began, turning a regional coordinated effort to address the issue of invasive plants into a reality. The plan for regional cooperative weed management areas (CWMAs) first began in the Western United States. CWMAs are local organizations that integrate all invasive plant management resources across jurisdictional boundaries in order to benefit entire communities. In the case of NIIPP, our partners are all interested landowners, land managers (private, city, county, state, and federal), non-profits, private entities, industry, special districts, and the public in the Northeast Illinois. During the past year we have been joined by 46 partners including the United States Forest Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Transportation District 1, Fermilab Natural Areas, Forest Preserve Districts of Boone County, DuPage County, Kendall County, Lake County, Will County, and Winnebago County; Villages of Algonquin, Lincolnshire, and Glenview; Midwest Groundcovers, LLC., Integrated Lakes Management, and Tallgrass Restoration. These and many other partners have been instrumental in our success this year. They have controlled and managed thousands of acres of invasive plants and restored many native habitats. And they will continue their efforts to protect and preserve native biodiversity and habitats.To learn more about NIIPP please visit our website at

Friday, October 7, 2011

New kudzu identification guide from Illinois DNR

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently published an identification guide to kudzu. This full color guide gives descriptions and photographs of both kudzu and potential look-a-likes. You can find an electronic version of the guide on the CWMA's website at:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New invasive species videos from the National Park Service

As part of the Great Lakes Restoration, the National Parks Service created four short 5 minute videos discussing the impact of invasive species on people and communities as well as what the general public can do to prevent their spread.
Although set in the national parks they are useful to anyone in an educational setting.

LITTLE THINGS big problems -- Emerald Ash Borer

LITTLE THINGS big problems -- Spotted Knapweed

LITTLE THINGS big problems -- Invasive Plants In Our Parks

LITTLE THINGS big problems -- Aquatic Invaders

Monday, October 3, 2011

Two recent stories on ecosystem impacts of invasion

Two recent stories surfaced about invasive plants and how far reaching their impacts on ecosystems can be.

The first story comes from a recent journal article by Watling et al. In this article, the researchers were looking at bush honeysuckle and how invasions lead to a decrease in amphibian diversity (both richness and eveness). Basically what happened was the slightly cooler temperatures under the honeysuckle lead to the native green frog flourishing, which it then was able to outcompete the other native amphibians, leading to domianance by one species and lower diversity overall. You can find their research in Biological Conservation.

The second story came from NPR's 'Living on Earth' series and it was about invasive plants in Montana's grasslands. The stiff thatch of the invaders, such as spotted knapweed and leafy spurge, has provided structure for a couple of native spiders to build more and larger webs than they would be able to in native prairie. This has led to more insect prey being caught, allowing the spiders to reproduce more and thus build more webs and feed on more insects. They sum up their point very well by saying "The native spiders are thriving because of the new exotic plants. They can eat more insects, and these insects can then no longer keep the growth of certain plants in check, and on and on. You alter one piece of the ecosystem, and the whole web changes." You can read the transcript or listen to the audio of the story on the Living on Earth website .

Both of these stories really do illustrate a point that is often overlooked when considering invasive plants. Their presence in a new environment can have impacts that are unforseen and not restricted to direct competitors. With a cursory glance, one might even think these invaders are having a positive impact on their surroundings (both situations lead to an increase in the populations of native species), but a closer look reveals their ability to throw things out of balance and faciliitate a larger-scale collapse in diversity. I think the authors of the honeysuckle article put it best when they labelled honeysuckle as having the ability to be an "Invasive Ecosystem Engineer", which they describe in the below excerpt:

"Invasive species can have far-reaching impacts on ecosystems. Although some invasive species interact with native taxa primarily through one or few biotic or abiotic pathways (e.g., competition, allelopathy), habitat-forming invasive species may act as ecosystem engineers with the potential to affect many organisms through multiple different pathways. Although the impacts of invasive species are often framed in terms of trophic interactions between organisms (e.g., species that interact as competitors or as predators and prey), an emerging perspective emphasizes the ability of invasive plants to change habitat structure or quality, i.e., to act as ecosystem engineers. Invasive ecosystem engineers may have widespread effects on native species that do not directly consume or compete with the invader. Identifying these non-trophic effects is important because they may be pervasive, yet cryptic consequences of invasion, especially given the extensive realized and potential distribution of many species in invaded landscapes."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Purdue's Invasive Species Workshop

Invasive Plants: What's the big deal? Learn how to identify both native and nonnative invasive plants; discover the impacts on the environment, wildlife habitat, and your checkbook; learn why prevention, early detection, and rapid response are vital in the control of invasive plants; gain a better understanding of the various methods used to control them effectively; and learn about financial and technical resources that can be a help. Workshop is free.
Purdue's website has many interesting workshops to choose from.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thousand Canker Disease Survey in Illinois

The Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey has been visually surveying and sampling black walnuts across the state of Illinois for the potential of Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD). They are encouraging anyone that has black walnut on their property or know of areas of black walnut stands to fill out a form and submit it for mapping purposes. In addition to surveying for symptomatic walnut trees, they are wanting to map as much black walnut as possible.

Please contact Kelly Estes (contact information below) for more information about Thousand Cankers Disease, the Illinois survey, and to obtain a form to submit walnut information on.

With the recent finds in Virginia and now Pennsylvania, the importance of this survey continues to grow.

Kelly Estes
State Survey Coordinator
Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey
Illinois Natural History Survey
1816 S. Oak St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: (217)333-1005
Illinois CAPS Blog
Illinois CAPS Website

UConn scientist develops sterile variety of invasive plant

Interesting article on developing sterile varieties of invasive plants for use in the horticultural industry. On one hand this is great news and would aid in removing a lot of the seed source for future infestations. However, it is worrisome, especially if the 'sterile' variety turns out not to be sterile. We've already witnessed this with Bradford pears, once thought to be completely sterile and now they are reproducing and widely escaped.

The full text of the article can be found at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Can Bird Watchers Do to Fight Invasive Species?

The USDA Blog has a good short article on bird watchers and what the can do to prevent spreading invasive species around.

You can find the article at:

This topic is definitely a relevant one. When I (Chris Evans is writing this post) worked in Georgia, we found the only known location of garlic mustard in the state, which was located at a very popular location for viewing neotropical migrants. In all likelihoood, a birdwatcher unintentionally transported seeds in from another state when visiting the site. The recommendations discussed in this article are also relevant for hunters, anglers, hikers, nature photographers, and anyone else enjoying the outdoors.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Short article on invasive honeysuckles in Illinois

The Illinois Farm Bureau has a nice article on the invasive honeysuckle species in Illinois.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Using wasps to survey for Emerald Ash Borer

Here is an interesting article about using a predatory wasp to find emerald ash borers.

Wasp may be key to saving ash trees
by Andrew Chave,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Archives of CMWA webcasts available online

Archives of the webcasts co-hosted by The Midwest Invasive Plant Network and the Stewardship Network are now available, and free to view! If you weren't able to tune in for the live broadcasts, or you'd like to review what you learned when you did, please make use of these recordings and share them with colleagues. The topics and links are listed below.

Public Relations and Outreach for Collaborative Invasive Species Management Projects
Presented: Tuesday, July 26, 11:00 AM Eastern/10:00 AM Central
Click here to view the archive!

Communicating about your work is an essential component of any invasive species collaboration. We will discuss why PR and outreach are important for invasive species programs, how to engage partners in collaborative projects, and how to successfully share information with the general public.

Chris Evans, River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area
Chris Evans is the coordinator of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, a multi-agency partnership to manage invasive plants in Southern Illinois. Through this position he works on public education and outreach projects, facilitating management activities between agencies, and developing an early detection and rapid response system for new invasive species. Chris has a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Biology from Murray State University and a Master's Degree in Forest Biology from Iowa State University.

Melanie Manion, Ottawa County (Michigan) Parks Department
Melanie Manion is the Natural Resources Manager for Ottawa County Parks in Michigan. She is responsible for the stewardship and restoration of over 6000 acres of park and open space land, in addition to the development of a comprehensive volunteer program. Previously, Manion worked for the Land Conservancy of West Michigan and Blandford Nature Center. She has a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science and a M.S. in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University. She is also a proud new mother of a baby girl, Alison Mae.


Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers for Invasive Plant Projects
Presented: Monday, June 27, 11:00 AM Eastern/10:00 Central
Click here to view the archive!

Volunteer stewardship workdays are a key facet of restoring the health and beauty of our natural areas, and the success of those workdays depends on the stewardship volunteers and organizers. During this presentation you will learn a variety of strategies for volunteer recruitment, tools for keeping volunteers engaged and happy, and ideas for encouraging them to come back.

Jason Frenzel, Stewardship Coordinator for the Huron River Watershed Council
He tries his best to help people help the world. He does this through work (paid and volunteer, of course) at the Huron River Watershed Council, HomeGrown Festival, the Stewardship Network, his families and home, and any friend he meets along the way. Jason received his BS from Michigan State University. He has gained much experience working with the Washtenaw County Drain Commissioners' Office, Road Commission, and Conservation District. He has volunteered with W.R.A.P., Trillium, Moms', and anyone who asks. His favorite quote: "Decisions are made by those who show up." Lesson= Get involved!

Laurel Malvitz-Draper, Resource Steward for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources State Park Stewardship Unit
Laurel has worked in the ecological restoration and volunteer coordinating fields for the past nine years in Michigan. She started a volunteer steward program for the Michigan State Parks Stewardship Unit in the fall of 2005 and has been coordinating and growing that volunteer program for select state parks in southern Michigan since. Her foundation for working with volunteers started with an internship with The Nature Conservancy and flourished in a position with the City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation. She works hard to create a good place for people to volunteer, provide quality volunteer experiences, and educate volunteers and park staff on the importance of nature and ecological restoration. She has a B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and a Certificate in Volunteer Engagement and Leadership from Portland State University’s Extended Campus Program. When she’s not working she enjoys pulling invasives from a county-owned prairie near her house as a volunteer, maintaining and adding diversity to her native plant landscape at home, and talking to friends and neighbors about plants and nature.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ecological consequences of bush honeysuckle

The journal, Diversity and Distributions, published a very interesting discussion on the ecological consequences of bush honeysuckle invasions and methods used to investigate those consequences.

You can find the article here:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Commander Ben" and his invasive species videos

Twelve year old "Commander Ben" has started a humorous and educational video series to educate the public about invasive species at

His first video, "Who Will Fell This Titan?", on Giant Reed won first place at the Science Under the Stars video contest at the Brackenridge Field Lab earlier this month.

He has published two more videos, "Tea time with English Ivy" and "In an ecesis far far away" on his website, and he has more videos on the way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Outdoor Illinois Special Issue and IDNR Invasive Species Website

Outdoor Illinois, a publication of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has a special issue on invasive species for the May edition. The articles from this issue and much more information can be found at the new IDNR invasive species website:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Announcing ISAM 2011 Award Nominations; submit by 5/15/2011

May 2011 is Invasive Species Awareness Month in Illinois!

It is also an opportunity to recognize the great work of volunteers, organizations, businesses, and professionals who work prevent and manage invasive species in Illinois.

Below is a link to the first annual ISAM Award announcement and nomination form. If you know of an individual, group, organization or business that deserves recognition for their work on invasive species issues, please take the time to fill out and submit a nomination form.

Nomination forms are due by May 15th.

Award winners will be announced at the end of May with a ceremony to follow in the summer.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Upcoming Southern Illinois Weed Watcher Training Session and Vounteer Party

You Are Invited!!
Weeds and Wine
Volunteer Recruitment &
Invasive Plant ID Party!

Why: Invasive plant species are invading our beautiful natural areas. They are aggressively overtaking or displacing native species causing a drastic reduction in our native biodiversity and natural beauty. Discovering weeds before they become well-established is critical to reducing damage to ecosystem integrity, preventing the loss of habitat for rare plants and animals, and preventing costly natural resource management.

Everyone who has been, currently is, or wants to be
involved in the Weed Watch Project.

What: Invasive Weed ID and Wine Party.

When: Sunday, May 15 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Where: Pomona Winery, 2865 Hickory Ridge Road, Pomona, IL 62975

What to Bring:
Drinking water for the trail and some cash to buy yourself a glass of delicious Pomona Winery apple wine or non-alcoholic soft drink. Snacks and munchies will be provided-but extra contributions won’t be turned down! We’ll kick off the party by explaining what WeedWatch is and the various ways you can get involved, then professional botanists will lead an invasive weed identification training. Following the training we’ll gather back at the winery to celebrate the accomplishments made over the past three years, to celebrate the future of the project, to get acquainted with old and new friends, and to have fun!

Please RSVP to or 618-521-1030.

The Illinois WeedWatch Project has been made possible through a grant from the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Preservation Fund.

Directions to Pomona Winery
The winery is easily reached from Highway 127 by following the wine trail signs and arrows. If you haven’t been to the winery before look forward to a scenic 25 to 35 minute drive through the lovely Shawnee Hills Forest once you leave Highway 127 (either the southern or the northern routes off the highway take about the same time). And, yes, from Highway 127 it is the longest 9.1 miles that you will ever drive--so relax, enjoy the scenery, and travel safe!

Changes Coming to WeedWatch
We are developing some new approaches to data collection that will accomodate a broader range of physical ability, interest level and time commitment. If you can’t come to the party, but are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in WeedWatch, please contact Terri at or 618-521-1030.

WeedWatch Accomplishments
WeedWatch Volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours in the field collecting hundreds of points and polygons. This data, all entered into a central database, has been used by agencies to treat infested areas, or in the case of the Shawnee National Forest, to help in the development of the Invasive Species Plan. This plan is due to be released soon for public comment and implementation (barring any major public resistance).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Updated Emerald Ash Borer website for Illinois

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has updated their Emerald Ash Borer website. It can be found at:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Upcoming Invasive Species Conference in Chicago

From May 11th through May 13th, 2011, the Program on the Global Environment at the University of Chicago is hosting the conference "Invasive Species in a Globalized World".

The goal of the conference is to bring together people working on invasive species from a broad range of perspectives, including ecologists, economists, legal scholars, historians and outreach/communication specialists.

The conference begins on Wednesday the 11th at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago with a keynote address by Rick Shine (University of Sydney, Australia): Invasive Cane Toads in Australia: the ecological, evolutionary and social effects of a tropical amphibian in a strange land.

This will followed by sessions at the University of Chicago all day Thursday (12th) and Friday (13th.

More detail, including the full list of speakers, is available at: This website it being regularly updated, and will soon have the full schedule.

All sessions of the conference, including the keynote, are free and open to the public.

Please contact Reuben Keller ( if you have any questions.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Website on Japanese Stiltgrass

Angie Shelton at Indiana University has created a new website on predicting the spread of invasive species, with a focus on her research on Japanese stiltgrass. The information will be of interest to both land managers and researchers. Take a look at

To hear Angie’s talk on the topic from the Stiltgrass Summit, hosted by River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area last summer, visit

Invasive Plant Curriculum

Here is a neat curriculum to assistance teachers in teaching their students about invasive plant issues.

Alien Invasion: Plants on the Move
Weed Curriculum for grades K-12

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Publication on Management of Aquatic Invasive Plants

A very detailed publication on the 'Biology and Control of Aquatic Plants' in now available online from the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation.

A copy of the book can be found at: