Issue 1: December 2021
a subsidiary of the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech

Our mission is to integrate invasion science with policy, management, and social demands to confront this global crisis. We aim to bring together faculty, graduate students, and staff at Virginia Tech interested in invasive species and committed to advancing action-oriented, inter-and transdisciplinary research. We recognize the unique knowledge and perspectives of natural scientists, social scientists, policy experts, resource managers, and community members, and seek to facilitate partnerships between stakeholders across Virginia and beyond.
The ISWG is directed by a steering committee, with others participating on a project-based approach. Past activities of the group include leading workshops for scientists and stakeholders, publishing two multi-author publications with three more in development, and organizing an Advocacy, Science, and Policy of Invasive Species course which culminated in a trip to Washington DC to meet with policymakers, NGO and lobbying advocates, and agency officials. As the ISWG evolves and strengthens, a core goal is to increase the frequency and intensity of interactions with many more faculty and students. Meeting times for the Spring 2022 semester are outlined below. We encourage anyone interested to participate and welcome feedback from faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders. We also thank those faculty who have already provided invaluable input this semester!

Current steering committee members: Jacob Barney (SPES), Bryan Brown (Biological Sciences), David Haak (SPES), Scott Salom (Entomology), Todd Schenk (SPIA), and Emily Reed (ISWG)

Follow the ISWG on our new Twitter account!
New ISWG Postdoctoral Associate, Emily Reed
We are excited to introduce Dr. Emily Reed, a new postdoctoral associate with the Invasive Species Working Group (ISWG). Dr. Reed joined us in August 2021 from North Carolina State University where she earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology on a project focusing on landscape genetics of the mosquito Aedes albopictus. Dr. Reed has a strong background in many elements of invasive species and in global change more broadly, and brings an interest in research, outreach, and connecting with stakeholders in Virginia and beyond. In this role, Dr. Reed will lead several initiatives to aid the ISWG in meeting our broad objectives. Dr. Reed will be leading efforts to strengthen connections and broaden participation in the ISWG through existing projects and developing new externally funded research efforts. She will also oversee the quarterly newsletter that is designed to engage the many stakeholders that work on invasive species related issues. Finally, not one for sitting still, Dr. Reed is already participating in local action on the direct removal of invasive species.

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Reed.

Science, Policy, and Management of Biological Invasions

Wednesdays (beginning 1/19)
10:00-11:30 AM ET in Steger Hall 325 & via Zoom
If interested, please fill out this form to receive additional details or contact Emily Reed.
This discussion group is designed to bring together graduate students, faculty, and staff from multiple disciplines that share an interest in invasive species. Participants will have opportunities to share their work and engage in thoughtful discussion so that we may recognize the variety of perspectives concerning invasive species. Participants will examine topics holistically, with a focus on the interactions among policy, management, social science, and natural science dimensions. Guest speakers with relevant experience will join participants weekly to provide insight into the material and lead discussions.
Course Credit for Graduate Students Graduate students may register to receive one credit hour for participating in the discussion group: GRAD 5984 (CRN 22147). Registered students will be expected to lead one meeting and complete a blog-style written summary of a discussion.
6th Annual Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management Symposium

January 19-20, 2022
12:30-5:00 PM ET each day remote via Zoom
View the preliminary agenda here & register here
Join us for two half days at the 6th annual symposium of the RISCC Management network, bringing together natural resource managers, scientists, and the invasive species community to discuss challenges and solutions to incorporating climate change into invasive species management. This year’s list of topics ranges from marine invasive species risks to forest carbon mitigation and floodplain forest restoration. We’ll also hear stories from resource managers about how they address these challenges.”

Virtually Educating Landowners about Nonnative Invasive Species
By Jennifer Gagnon, Extension Associate and VFLEP Coordinator
While the pandemic temporarily halted Virginia Cooperative Extension’s ability to offer in-person programming in 2020 and early 2021, it did not halt the progression of nonnative invasive species. To continue distributing information about these destructive invaders, as well as other information about woodland and wildlife management, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program (VFLEP) developed a weekly (now bi-weekly) video-based program called Fifteen Minutes in the Forest. These short videos give participants a chance to virtually visit the forest and to learn about important forestry and wildlife topics from the comfort of their own homes.

Karen Snape, Extension Associate in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, took on the task of creating a series of videos on nonnative invasives. In each video, she covers the identification of, problems with, and control of, a number of common invaders in SW Virginia. Her videos (as well as the other 60+ Fifteen Minutes in the Forest videos) can be found on the VFLEP YouTube Channel, and Karen’s videos are among the most watched on the Channel.

The Fifteen Minutes in the Forest video series allowed VFLEP to virtually engage landowners and to build an audience for the YouTube Channel. Between March of 2020 and the end of 2021, the Channel grew from 16 subscribers to almost 800, with over 1,700 views. Bi-weekly videos are shown live at 12:15 every other Friday via ZOOM and on Facebook Live. For a schedule of upcoming videos, visit the Events Calendar.

Read about research on private landowners’ role as gatekeepers for Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), conducted by VT research associate Kiandra Rajala, GCC faculty affiliate Dr. Michael Sorice, and USDA research management specialist Dr. David Toledo.
Consider this powerful review on keeping Antarctica free from non-native species under global climate change from Dr. Dana M. Bergstrom (Australian Government, Antarctic Division).
On the topic of global change, consider how invasions in the Anthropocene have contributed to patterns of plant community homogenization from Dr. Barnabas H. Daru (Texas A&M) et al. 
On November 17, the peer-reviewed journal Biological Invasions published a series of articles that identify, examine, and address concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the journal. These include a summary from the head editors, a review of the editorial board demography over time, an analysis of peer reviewers’ and corresponding authors’ national affiliations and rates of manuscript submission and acceptance, and a discussion on how to increase gender and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity at the journal. Lead authors (respectively): Dr. Laura Meyerson (U Rhode Island), Dr. Sara Kuebbing (U Pittsburgh), Dr. Martin Nuñez (U Houston, Universidad del Comahue), and Dr. Deah Lieurance (U Florida).
By Oliver Milman for The Guardian
TLDR: Invasive or not? The range of the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is expanding east- and northward, likely in response to warming winters caused by anthropogenic climate change. Homeowners in western North Carolina are paying “bounty hunters” to capture and kill armadillos. The species is considered a nuisance pest because of the burrows they dig in gardens and yards and a public health risk because they can carry and transfer the bacteria causing leprosy. The species was first detected in Virginia in 2019 in western Washington County (Moncrief et al. 2021).
The Massachusetts legislature held a virtual hearing for Bill S.563 on 7 December 2021, “An Act Responding to the Threat of Invasive Species”
Taiwan is racing to contain a cane toad invasion by Miriam Berger for the Washington Post
It’s time to stop demonizing “invasive” species by Marina Bolotnikova for Vox Media
Spotted Lanternfly, Lycoma delicatula
The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula is an introduced hemipteran insect of major concern with a wide plant host range. First identified in PA in 2014, it was first found in Winchester, VA in 2018 and since then has spread to two adjacent counties. While it feeds on a wide range of woody hosts, it prefers Ailanthus altissima, tree-of-heaven also from its native habitat in China.

While ongoing studies are trying to estimate this invader’s impact, we already know that the wine industry is greatly concerned, as this insect has already killed extensive wine grape plantings in PA. This insect is very easy to transport and a strict quarantine around the three infested counties is being enforced by VDACS. Learn more HERE about this pesky invader.

Photo ID (from top to bottom): Kudzu (Pueraria montana); Human (Homo sapiens); Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule); Human (Homo sapiens); Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis); Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus); Spotted Lanternfly (Lycoma delicatula) adult and fourth instar nymph.
Do you have an opportunity or announcement you'd like to share with the VT Invasive Species community? Send us an email!
The Invasive Species Working Group is a faculty collaborative within the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech supported by the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

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