The Roundup -

Exploring Weed Tree Invasions Across The Globe


We don’t normally think of trees as invasive plants, but even MonDak prairie dwellers have experience with at least one “weedy” tree example. Just think of the acres of saltcedar (Tamarix) now clogging significant portions of our Yellowstone and Missouri riverbanks!

Non-native tree invasions are a growing problem across the globe and Dr. John Gaskin, a molecular botanist with the Agricultural Research Service in Sidney, MT, and his fellow collaborators from around the world want to find out why. Dr. Gaskin and his team recently completed a global assessment of non-native tree invasions focusing on the role hybridization plays in promoting those invasions. Hybridization can stimulate invasiveness through increasing genetic variation and the creation of new gene combinations that can spur increased plant fertility and growth.

Dr. Gaskin will share what they discovered during the final 2018 Brownbagger presentation at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney on Friday, April 6. His talk is entitled “The role of hybridization in facilitating tree invasion,” and will be held from noon to 1 pm in the Tech Transfer Room at the Sidney ARS lab, located at 1500 N. Central Avenue.

Highlighting his latest research, Dr. Gaskin will discuss how frequent hybrid tree invasion is globally and in our region, and the harmful effects of this type of plant invasion.

“Invasion of landscapes by non-native trees can have huge negative consequences on agriculture and the environment,” Gaskin says. “Some tree invasions are formed by hybridization between species, which adds a level of complication to the impact and control of these plants.”

Dr. Gaskin is currently Research Leader of the Sidney ARS Lab’s Pest Management Research Unit and his research is focused on the systematics and population structure of invasive plants, particularly whitetop or hoarycress and saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) Both of these invasives are present in Montana and throughout the western U.S. Dr. Gaskin holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a doctorate in Evolutionary and Population Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Please join us for this globe-trotting trip into the world of invasive trees this coming Friday, April 6 at noon. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide the dessert!

Dr. Gaskin’s talk is the final presentation in the Sidney ARS lab’s 2018 winter speaker series. For questions or more information on ARS’ annual winter BrownBaggers, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or [email protected]


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