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Goldenrod invasion in Hungary

How rapidly do invasive goldenrods spread and how to manage them?

Although Europe has historically been viewed as a donor rather than a recipient of invasions, the rates of invasions and their impacts are increasing rapidly. Hungary, a crossroads of central Europe, is thought to be particularly vulnerable to plant invasions. In collaboration with my colleagues Róbert Pál  from the University of Pécs and Zoltán Botta-Dukát from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, we seek to understand the dynamics of invasive goldenrods, for which I was awarded a Fulbright to work in Hungary on this project (planned for Spring 2012).

Given limited resources for managment in natural areas, land managers must focus management efforts on species that are causing large, negative impacts and quantify which control measures are most effective at reaching clearly-defined goals. My collaborators have already established that goldenrod is one of of the biggest threats to native biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in Hungary . We are developing a model that integrates goldenrod demography with what is known about its dispersal rates, while accounting for the multiple mechanisms of goldenrod spread. The model will be used to contrast various management strategies to determine which are best for reducing spread and lowering local population abundance – the most effective management may be different depending on which of these goals is a higher priority. The insights gained will be shared with managers from the Hungarian national park system, and fellow scientists. It is our aim that this research directly leads to better goldenrod management, facilitating the exclusion of goldenrod from uninvaded areas, and lessening impacts in areas already suffering invasion.