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Chautauqua speaker on invasive plant species

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The Wrangell Chautauqua series continues Thursday, March 14, 2013, with a presentation by Brian Maupin.

Brian Maupin is an invasive species specialist with the Alaska Association of Conservation Districts.

That means he studies plants – specifically the ones that are somewhere they really shouldn’t be.

Bohemian Knotweed (Polygonum bohemica) – Photo courtesy of the Juneau Cooperative Weed Management Area and juneauinvasives.org

“An invasive plant is a non-native plant that is aggressive and can spread rapidly,” explains Maupin.

The problem with this is that many native plants can’t stand up to this kind of invasion. If the native plants are not as aggressive as the invasive ones, they can lose a lot of territory or even die out when the invasives spread.

Maupin focuses on plants that cause disruptions in the native ecosystems of Southeast Alaska.

“My background is actually in horticulture. And then just through the years, I just slowly became an invasive plant specialist. And I really like doing this in Southeast,” said Maupin.

There are two common invasive plants in Wrangell. There is the Bohemian Knotweed and a few of the Yellow Hawkweeds.

Maupin describes the Bohemian Knotweed as a very large plant. It has thick, hollow, bamboo-like stems and elephant ear-shaped leaves. It poses a particular threat to this area.

“It is very aggressive and just moves right into natural ecosystems, deteriorating berry-picking habitats as well as the influence on salmon streams,” said Maupin.

He said this is one of the most interesting ecosystems to study because there are so many invasive species here—and they haven’t been here for long.

“It’s kind of wide open. We’re at the point where we’re right at the very beginning of many of these invasions. I’m passionate about it because I feel that good can still be done and we can stop these negative impacts before they happen,” said Maupin.

Maupin is presenting for the Wrangell Chautauqua series Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 7pm in the Nolan Center. At 6pm, he will be presenting his Invasive Weeds Management Plan. The public is encouraged to attend.

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