December Science Cafe at Orca Books: Scotch Broom revisited
When: 7:00 PM, Tuesday December 13th, 2016
Where: Orca Books (509 East 4th Avenue, Olympia, Phone 360.352.0123)
Our December topic is: Interactions between Invasive Scotch Broom and Insects along an Elevation Gradient
Scotch broom is an invasive plant species in the Pacific Northwest. Although useful in erosion control and producing beautiful blooms each year, Scotch broom reduces natural biodiversity and timber crop yields. Past research has suggested that broom may be limited by the availability of pollinators and the effectiveness of introduced biological controls. However, such plant-insect interactions have not been evaluated in the mountains where Scotch broom competes with timber crops. Other researchers have also shown that broom evolves to optimize its interaction with pollinators along an elevation gradient. In a series of summer studies, we investigated the interactions between Scotch broom and insects. We found that, despite previous research showing the converse, broom is highly visited by pollinators. We categorized and compared pollinators at several sites along an elevation gradient, and found how flower size varies with elevation and season. The effectiveness of biological controls was also investigated, with implications for their future spread.
About the Speaker:
Robert Bode got his B.S. in Biology from Hope College in western Michigan and his PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His past work has focused on plant-herbivore interactions and the evolution of plant defenses. However, more recently he has focused on the interactions between weedy plants and seed-eating insects. Robert has been an assistant professor at Saint Martin's University since 2014, and currently lives in Olympia with his wife and kids.