Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seeking Miscanthus Invading Natural Areas

Lauren Quinn, a researcher at the University of Illinois, is looking for help to locate escaped individuals or whole populations of Miscanthus sinensis and/or M. sacchariflorus in natural areas in the U.S. These are large ornamental grasses commonly planted in gardens and used in landscaping. Unfortunately, many varieties of Miscanthus have the capacity to produce copious viable seeds which can establish in "natural" areas (e.g. roadsides, pastures, forest openings) to become invasive. As part of a large study aimed at describing the current distribution of naturalized Miscanthus populations, Lauren is planning to visit as many of these populations as possible this summer and next and needs help to build her database of locations.
More specifics on what she is looking for: The species: Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus sacchariflorus General info on M. sinensis and additional info on M. sinensis. 
General info on M. sacchariflorus.
Current known distribution of escaped, naturalized and/or invasive M. sinensis.
A side-by-side comparison of M. sinesis and M. sacchariflorus.
The environmental context: any Miscanthus individuals in "natural" areas. That is, plants that have established independently away from intentional cultivation. "Natural areas" can be roadsides, forest openings, pastures, etc. but not instances of "volunteer" plants growing in the same yard where they were planted in the first place. Lauren is looking for plants that have moved themselves (via seed dispersal or rarely rhizome dispersal) some substantial distance away from plantings (perhaps across some natural boundary) to establish healthy self-sustaining populations. Examples of such populations for M. sinensis.
The info Lauren would like: 
Location (GPS coordinates, if possible. If not, then an intersection, address or other landmark).
Description of environmental context (e.g. roadside, pasture, etc)
Population size (a rough estimate of the number of plants. E.g. one, a handful, a dozen, hundreds, etc)
If on private property, names/contact info of property owners.
An estimate of the history of the population (how long it has been there, where the nearest planting is and when it was planted)
A photo of the population
Your contact info
This would be easy to do in EDDMapS. All the required information can be added in the online data form. This would also make to information easy for Lauren to access and download in the format most useful to her. Training videos are available if needed for learning to use EDDMapS, but it is a very easy system to use.
For questions or to send information directly to Lauren.