Digital Cocktails & Fishtales – A wild grass chase: Discovery and impacts of a novel, ecosystem-engineering hybrid beachgrass
A wild grass chase: Discovery and impacts of a novel, ecosystem-engineering hybrid beachgrass
On the Pacific Northwest coast, two beachgrasses build tall stable dunes that increase coastal protection but have caused the decline of some native animal and plant species. A team from Oregon State University recently discovered that these two invasive beachgrass species are hybridizing. Come hear the story of how this hybrid beachgrass was discovered, how it may impact the Oregon coast ecosystem, and what you can do to help discover new hybrids and expand our understanding of this unlikely event.
Rebecca Mostow is a PhD candidate at Oregon State University where she is advised by Dr. Sally Hacker. Rebecca’s research on a novel hybrid zone between the non-native beachgrasses Ammophila arenaria and A. breviligulata has earned her awards and funding from the National Science Foundation, the Washington Native Plant Society, and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. She received a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in 2013 where she completed a senior project on desert plant systematics. Before starting her graduate degree, Rebecca conducted research and taught at Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and the Bureau of Land Management Carson City District.
Abstract: The two dominant beachgrasses of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Ammophila arenaria (European beachgrass) and A. breviligulata (American beachgrass), build tall stable dunes that increase coastal protection but threaten some native animal and plant species. For decades, these intentionally planted but invasive grasses have presented tradeoffs to land managers trying to balance conservation and coastal protection. It was recently discovered that these two grass species are hybridizing. An iNaturalist crowd-sourced science project is underway aiming to map the novel hybrid beachgrass and educate the public about the impact of these non-native plants. Rebecca Mostow, a PhD candidate at Oregon State University, will tell the story of how this unexpected discovery was made, describe the genetic and ecological impacts of the novel hybrid, and explain how you can get involved in the mapping project.
Cocktails & Fishtales is Harbor WildWatch’s science-social series. Held monthly, these programs feature a scientist, researcher, or environmental artist on an ecological topic. While these programs are traditionally 21+ and held at a local taproom or venue, during the pandemic they have shifted to an online format for all ages. They continue to serve as an engaging and interactive way to learn about the environment, and bring together eco-enthusiasts from our local community… and, now, beyond. Questions and interaction are highly encouraged!
Cocktails & Fishtales are educational events. As such, Harbor WildWatch does not endorse any speaker, service, or product represented at Cocktails & Fishtales.
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