From June 1-16, 11 graduate students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Arts and Sciences, who are part of the EMPOWER graduate training program at Syracuse University, joined 12 students from the University of…
Skytop Garden Yields Bounty for Researchers (Video)
Summertime is the growing season for Syracuse University researchers, including Jason Fridley. The field biologist is looking into why some invasive plant species do better than their native cousins. There’s a good chance these invasive species are growing in your own backyard.
Here’s a transcript of the video:
Summer time is hardly a time of rest for a few biologists on the Syracuse University campus. We’re in the midst of growing season, and this garden plot on South Campus is bursting with flowers and greenery. For Associate Professor Fridley it’s a living lab.
“We are very interested in how forest grassland and other types of plant communities respond to the environment, in particular things like climate change, but also the increased importance of invasive species.”
Those invasive species, some coming from across the ocean, have taken a foothold in forests, and probably in your own backyard too. This garden yard contains many of them, all part of Professor Fridley’s research.
“One of our main reasons for establishing this garden is to understand the basic biology of these plants. The interesting thing about them is they virtually all have very close relatives that are native here in the United States. They do the same kind of things, they use the same type of pollinators, dispersers. They get their energy in the same way. They grow up in the same time in the spring, and lose leaves at the same time in the fall. And through a large survey, almost 100 species, we’ve identified how their cousins, in most way, use very different strategy of living in the environment in the forest. It’s a little bit of paradox if you think about it. We are taught that species evolve in place to respond to the environment they are in. So how is it one of their cousins coming from other side of the world, can actually do that much more effectively in a place that never evolved in. So we are trying to figure out, how is that seed from a Honeysuckle from China, gets into forest, and within 10 or 20 years can actually be more established in the forest, that anything native community has offered.”
Interesting enough, Professor Fridley says the invaders are active much longer into autumn in terms of making food, Photosynthesis, than native plants, staying green longer into the season. Why this is happening, well, that’s part of what this research is all about.