Ecology and Management of Invasive Species and Forest Ecosystems

Invasive Insects, Plants, and Diseases

Invasive organisms were introduced, intentionally or accidentally, into an ecosystem outside their own and managed to thrive. They are widely recognized as among the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem stability worldwide, and have serious economic and social costs. More than 450 non-native forest insects are established in the United States.  Phloem- and woodboring insects cause the greatest economic harm and cost local governments over $1.7 billion annually. Over 5000 species of non-native plants, including an estimated 138 species of non-native forest trees and shrubs, have invaded natural ecosystems in the U.S. Invasive plants have displaced native trees and shrubs and alter ecosystem processes and nutrient cycles. Invasive pathogenic fungi increasingly threaten North American trees. Several tree species have been functionally eliminated or severely reduced by invasive diseases including chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease. Ecosystems are fundamentally changed when major tree species are eliminated. We conduct research to increase our understanding of the biology and ecology of invasive insects, plants, and diseases, and to develop tools for detection and management of invasive species and restoration of impacted ecosystems.

Our Research