Issue 2: March 2022
Invasive Species & Art
Jacob Barney (ISWG steering committee) and multimedia artist David Franusich (VT Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology) presented “Invasive Exegesis,” a multi-sensory SciArt installation, as part of VT’s Communicating Science Week. The collaborative project highlighted the impacts of invasive plants in Appalachia. For the full story, see this Virginia Tech news article.
Introducing the Spongy Moth
Name change! The new common name for Lymantria dispar (formerly the gypsy moth) is “Spongy Moth”. The Entomological Societies of America and Canada announced that they have officially adopted “spongy moth” as their official common name for this invasive insect. Why? "Spongy" refers to the moth’s peculiar egg masses. For more details, see the Spongy Moth Transition Toolkit. For information on common name practices, check out the better common names project from the Entomological Society of America.
Federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) Reinstated
After being disbanded in 2019, ISAC was reinstated in September 2021 and is seeking nominations through March 28th. First formed in 1999, ISAC advises the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), an interagency body which provides vision and leadership to manage invasive species and restore ecosystems.
Summer Work Opportunity for Undergraduates
Looking for work opportunities? Middle Mountain Farm near White Hall, VA is hiring 2-4 seasonal, full time forestry positions. Work activities include conducting invasive species control and timber stand improvement. Position Description
Science, Policy, and Management of Biological Invasions

Wednesdays via Zoom (link to meetings)
10:00-11:30 AM ET
Upcoming Speakers:
23 March: Dr. Sarah Low DVM “Factors affecting free-roaming horse populations in the American West and Appalachia”
30 March: TBA
06 April: Sarah Kane “Spotted lanternfly detection dogs”
13 April: Dr. Vanessa Lopez, USDA Invasive Plants National Program Manager
20 April: Dr. Ngaio Richards, Working Dogs for Conservation
27 April: Dr. Robert Creed, Appalachian State University, on invasive crayfish
Friday MARCH 18, 9:00 AM ET
Discoveries from Experiments in SciArt Collaboration
Featuring ISWG member Jacob Barney and GCC faculty affiliates Ryan Calder, Emmanuel Frimpong, Susanna Werth, and Christopher Zobel
Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology: information here
Wednesday MARCH 23, 12:00–1:00 PM ET
A Conversation on Kudzu:
When research intersects with management, good things happen
Steve Enloe and Steve Manning
Northeast RISCC Seminar: Remote via Zoom (register here)
Thursday APRIL 7, 3:004:00 PM ET
Of Limpkins, Apple Snails, and Mayfly Mass Emergence:
Invasive Species, Novel Ecosystems, and an Uncertain Future
Dr. Steve Gollaway
Virginia Tech Entomology Seminar: 220 Price Hall and via Zoom
Wednesday & Thursday APRIL 67, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Science Integration Workshop
North Central RISCC workshop: via Zoom (register here); Preliminary Agenda
Thursday, APRIL 21, 11:30 AM1:00 PM ET
Pollinators, Invasive Plants, and Herbicides
Blue Ridge PRISM Spring Quarterly Meeting (Virtual; register here)
Meet Blue Ridge PRISM
By Rowena Zimmerman
Blue Ridge PRISM Communications and Outreach Coordinator
The Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) strives to reduce the impact of invasive plants on the ecosystems of the northern Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas through regional and statewide advocacy, landowner support, and public education. Blue Ridge PRISM's coverage area stretches across more than 3.5 million acres (including the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park) and includes more than 50,000 landowners with five acres or more. As Virginia's first Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA), Blue Ridge PRISM is in a unique position as the only PRISM in the Commonwealth. As a result, it often works at a broader level to address the threat of invasive species statewide in its efforts to mitigate the negative economic, environmental, and human impacts of invasive plants across Virginia.

Blue Ridge PRISM works collaboratively with other nonprofit conservation groups as well as government agencies to increase public awareness of the threat invasive species pose to native ecosystems critical to human health and well-being. In addition, it regularly offers workshops that teach about the identification and management options of invasive plants as well as free webinars that offer practical and up-to-date resources and training. Blue Ridge PRISM's next event is its spring quarterly meeting on April 21st: "Invasive Plants, Pollinators, and the Effects of Herbicide". To learn more, go to
Mountain redbelly dace, Chrosomus oreas
By Nathan Ferguson
Undergraduate Nathan Ferguson is doing exciting research with Dr. Holly Kindsvater and Dr. Kevin Hamed. Documenting population dynamics of invasive minnow species in the New River Watershed. 
When many people think of invasive species, their minds go to the infamous Burmese python (Python bivittatus) or feral hogs (Sus scrofa) that cause tremendous damage to the ecosystem. However, not every invasive species has such devastating impacts. Many are in our backyards, and we don’t even know it. A perfect example is the mountain redbelly dace (Chrosomus oreas), a minnow species native to Virginia here in the New River Valley. These fish are beautiful when in spawning colors as they shimmer red and yellow under the water. Many people would think, “This fish is native here; it must be found anywhere in Virginia.” This is not always the case with aquatic species and watersheds. Though the mountain redbelly dace is native to the New River, it is non-native in the Holston River System, only a few counties away.
The question becomes, “How can this minnow do any harm?” These fish are detrimental to its sister species, the Tennessee dace (Chrosomus tennesseensis), a Virginia state-endangered species native to the Holston River system. Mountain redbelly dace can outcompete and hybridize with populations of Tennessee dace, displacing this species from their native environment. Why does this matter since the two species are similar? This answer is unknown. We know that though these two species are highly similar, they have slight life history differences and have evolved with different species they each rely on. If Tennessee dace disappear from an area, what effect will this have on other organisms? We do not know what removing one block from this Jenga tower of diversity may cause. We may not see anything occur suddenly but removing this one species could affect another that affects something else, and we would not know until the tower falls and it is too late to resolve the issue. 
Acid in your juice? The LABhondère at Virginia Tech developed an effective toxic sugar bait that attracts and controls the invasive bush mosquito Aedes japonicus. From graduate researcher Lauren Fryzlewicz, undergraduate Ashlynn VanWinkle, and GCC faculty affiliate Chloé Lahondère.
An interdisciplinary group used horizon scanning methods to identify potential invasive plant pests and prioritize prevention actions in Ghana: M. Kenis (CABI) et al.
The disparity between global invasive species damage vs. management costs demonstrates a lack of proactive management worldwide: R. Cuthbert et al.
Effective management of the common myna bird in the Mediterranean requires a policy strategy of international collaboration: T.M. Cohen et al.
New research suggests that invasive weeds may promote pollinator biodiversity in an agri-environmental landscape: N.J. Balfour & F. L. W. Ratnieks 
Marko Álvarez & Astrid Suárez,
Associated Press
For more on the hippo debate, check out NPR's 14-minute episode!
Livia Albeck-Ripka,
New York Times
This story is based on research conducted by VT alum Dr. Maurizio Porfir et al.
Phoebe Weston & Patrick Greenfield,
The Guardian
Photo ID (from top to bottom): Spongy moth (Lymantria dispar); Chincoteague Pony (Equus ferus caballus); Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis); Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius); Mountain redbelly dace (Chrosomus oreas); Human (Homo sapiens)

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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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