Schulz, Kurt - Genetics, Invasion, and the Evolution of a Superweed

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Genetics, Invasion, and the Evolution of a Superweed
Kurt Schulz
A prerequisite for evolution is that traits must be heritable for natural selection to have an effect
on future generations. Conservationists note with increasing despair that invasive plants and
animals are destabilizing native communities already under threat from human activities. Here I
describe student/faculty collaborative research that identifies flexible, genetically based traits
that permit certain plant invaders to overwhelm Midwestern forests. The discussion focuses on
Amur honeysuckle, the dominant invader in southern Illinois, and a Japanese and a Chinese
species which have hybridized in North America. I speculate whether invasive honeysuckles are
evolving to become super weeds in the New World.
Podium talk, 15-20 minutes (longer is possible)
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