Issue 5: Summer 2023

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ISWG Updates

New Graphic for the ISWG!

What do you see? The Invasive Species Working Group commissioned Meaghan Dee, an Associate Professor in Graphic Design, to create a new graphic element for our group, and we couldn't be happier! What made this design so wonderful is that looking at it, we all saw different elements related to invasive species (we now refer to the "S" in the graphic as "snake-bird").

Invasive Species (Working Group) Found in DC

This past May, the ISWG steering committee travelled up to the US Capital to better understand national concerns about invasive species and nurture connections with government partners.

We met with representatives from federal agencies, aides to legislative policymakers, and senior members of non-profit groups working in Washington. These meetings demonstrated the need for a holistic, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to invasive species research and action with emphasis on a socio-ecological perspective.

Moving forward, we aim to cultivate the networks formed during our stay in DC to further the ISWG mission, connecting science, policy, and management to tackle biological invasions. Read more about our work over the last semester here!

Other Updates

Join us in congratulating ISWG Director Jacob Barney for his promotion to full professor!

Steering committee member Emily Reed joined the leadership team of the Northeast Regional Invasive Species & Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network.

Science to Action: The American Bullfrog

Written by ISWG Member Joe Drake

The American bullfrog, while native to Virginia and the eastern US, is an invasive species in the west. There, it competes with and consumes native amphibians, threatening biodiversity.

The Mims Lab is conducting research to identify strategic and efficient ways to remove the American bullfrog from western waters. As part of this project, PI Meryl Mims and lab members Joe Drake and Grace O'Malley organized and led a collaborative workshop in May 2023 in southeastern Arizona. The workshop included sessions related to the history, context, and results of their research. Topics covered genetic analyses, acoustic monitoring, and simulations aimed to help identify management solutions. Guest speakers spoke about landscape scale logistics of removal and the specifics of removal tactics and techniques.

Attendees represented a broad coalition of organizations. While some attendees had decades of experience in invasive species management, others were there to begin planning and executing their own bullfrog removal programs. Beyond the presentations, breakout sessions allowed attendees to share information and discuss common needs. These exercises allowed for consensus building concerning critical knowledge gaps in invasive bullfrog ecology and management. Feedback from the event will be integrated into the Mims Lab research program, allowing them to tailor data to meet manager needs. The workshop was a success, with extremely positive feedback from participants!


Sustainable Blacksburg Lunch and Learn

The Hidden Stories of Common Backyard Invaders

12:00 PM EDT, Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Blacksburg Public Library

and via Zoom

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Invasive plants and animals might be pretty to look at, but they can wreak havoc on wildlife, ecosystems, and humans, sometimes in surprisingly ingenious and dastardly ways. Never fear! Dr. Emily Reed of the VT Invasive Species Working Group will show us the “dirty dozen” of Blacksburg – 12 invasive species that are common in our yards and the unexpected ways that they influence our community and our environment.


June 28, 11:00 AM EDT

Biological Invasions are as Costly as Natural Hazards

Presented by the Invasive Species Centre

Register Here

July 19, 11:30 AM EDT

These Are Not Your Grandpa's Quail: Modern Quail Habitat Management

Blue Ridge PRISM Summer Meeting

Register Here

July 19, 2:00 PM EDT

Using People Powered Restoration to Manage Invasive Species in an Urban National Park

Presented by the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA)

Register Here


Relationship with the land as a foundation for ecosystem stewardship. Sorice et al. 2023, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Authored by ISWG member Mike Sorice and co-authored by ISWG member Bryan Brown.

Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions VanderGiessen et al. 2023, iScience. Co-authored by GCC affiliate Chloé Lahondère.

New York State Tick Blitz: harnessing community-based science to understand range expansion of ticks. Foley et al. 2023, Journal of Medical Entomology, co-authored by GCC Affiliate Gillian Eastwood

Neglected tropical diseases risk correlates with poverty and early ecosystem destruction. Ramalho Magalhães et al. 2023, Infectious Diseases of Poverty, co-authored by ISWG member Luis Escobar.

In the Media

From Virginia Tech News

As we highlighted in our March issue, the ISWG received a competitive internal grant to develop a Destination Area 2.0 Phase 2 proposal. Read about what we've been working on over the last semester! Jenise L. Jacque for VT News

Are you a fan of frogs and toads? Read about Dr. Traci Dubose's research on anuran conservation while with the Mims Lab. Jenise L. Jacques for VT News

Chronic Wasting Disease is infecting more deer in Virginia. Read an interview with ISWG member Dr. Luis Escobar about his research on the spread of CWD. VT News

Finally, check out this video featuring recent grad Nathan Ferguson and his experience at VT. Nathan contributed a piece to our March 2022 newsletter.


Fire ants are marching westward in Virginia, driven by climate change. Grace Mamon for Cardinal News

6 Dangerous Plants Found in Virginia You Should Never Touch. Nixza Gonzalez for A-Z animals

Snakehead and nutria keep appearing, despite efforts to stop them. Daily Press

Invasive tree-damaging insects found on Richmond crape myrtles. Nicole Dantzler for WRIC


Did you know that opossums are invasive in Alaska? Read about the fate of an elusive possum in Homer. Chris Klint for Alaska Public Media

Interactive map: Top 5 most common invasive animal and insect in every US state. Camille Fine for USA Today

City says goats a safer, smarter way to clear land in Chattanooga of invasive species. Sam Peña for Channel 9 News.

How mosquitoes use your body chemistry to pick you for their next meal. Featuring VT 's Dr. Clément Vinauger. Carolyn Y. Johnson for the Washington Post


Is Eating Invasive Species a Sustainable Approach to Managing a Population? Guia Baggi for Mongabay

Colombia’s ‘cocaine hippo’ population is even bigger than scientists thought. Luke Taylor for Nature

Rats Are Finally Gone from This Vulnerable Island. Chelsea Harvey for Scientific American

Lost world: Invasive palms and WWII damaged an island paradise. Could fungi help to restore it? Virginia Gewin for Nature

Photo ID (from top to bottom): Asiatic clam (Corbicula fluminea); ISWG Steering Committee in Washington DC (we missed you, Haldre!); Participants and Mims Lab organizers of the invasive American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) Workshop; Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta).

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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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