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Natural defense systems in the fight against invasive species – Virtual Talk

March 4, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MST

Dr. Emily Schultz

Natural defense systems in the fight against invasive species:
Native insect herbivory limits complex invasion dynamics of an exotic thistle

By Emily Schultz, PhD

March 4, 2021

We invite you to join us for this lecture via Zoom Webinar!

When: March 4, 2021, Noon Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Topic: Natural defense systems in the fight against invasive species
Speaker: Emily Schultz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, Northwest College

Register in advance for this webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oNRk0zsuRROzNeG51gM_YA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Dr. Emily Schultz speaks about natural defense systems against invasive species in a virtual talk March 4, 2021.
Dr. Emily Schultz speaks about natural defense systems against invasive species in a virtual talk March 4, 2021.

Join us online March 4 for our March Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition. Emily Schultz presents Natural defense systems in the fight against invasive species.

Understanding the role of consumers in density-dependent plant population dynamics is a long-standing goal in ecology and is important for understanding the role herbivores play in the suppression of invasive species. However, the generality of herbivory effects across heterogeneous landscapes is poorly understood due to the pervasive influence of context dependence. Schulz’s team tested effects of native insect herbivory on the population dynamics of an exotic thistle, Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle), in a field experiment replicated across eight sites in eastern Nebraska.

Using density-dependent population models, they found potential for explosive low-density population growth and complex density fluctuations under herbivore exclusion. However, herbivore access drove population decline, suppressing complex fluctuations. While plant-herbivore interaction outcomes are famously context-dependent, the project demonstrated that herbivores suppress potentially invasive populations throughout the study region, and this qualitative outcome is insensitive to environmental context. Their novel modeling approach shows that native insect herbivores consistently prevent hard-to-predict fluctuations of weeds in environments otherwise susceptible to invasion.

About our speaker

Dr. Emily Schultz started her career in ecology at Scripps College, working with Dr. Diane Thomson on interactions between native and invasive plants in southern California. After college, Dr. Schultz traveled the world as a research assistant, before completing her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Dr. Tom Miller at Rice University. After graduate school, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Margaret Evans at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research at the University of Arizona. To date Schultz has helped study the cascading effects of the brown tree snake introduction on Guam, the recovery of endemic plant population following invasive herbivore removal on the California Channel Islands, and the effects on climate change on pine distributions. Schultz is currently an assistant professor of biology at Northwest College where she teaches general biology, plant and fungal biology, and forest management.

Support for Lunchtime Expeditions is provided by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Charitable Foundation.

Upcoming talks

April 1Migrating Bison Engineer a Better Yellowstone

May 6: Exploring Yellowstone Lake’s Mysterious Vents

August 5Public Waters: Lessons from Wyoming for the American West


March 4, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MST
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Draper Natural History Museum
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