Callie Oldfield (Biology, C’15) and Jonathan Evans (Professor of Biology) recently published the results of a study on a positive interaction between invasive wild hogs (Sus scrofa) and invasive yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus).
They studied the effect of wild hog foraging disturbance on yellow nutsedge populations on St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Over 12 years, Dr. Evans monitored populations of clonal yellow nutsedge in hog foraging disturbance as part of the Island Ecology course.
Callie and Dr. Evans found that yellow nutsedge populations rebounded through clonal propagation after a hog disturbance. Hogs returned to the same disturbances approximately every 5 years to forage, resulting in the long-term perpetuation of yellow nutsedge.
“We show evidence of an invasive species promoting another invasive species, an interaction which will probably become more common in the future,” Callie Oldfield comments.
This invasive-invasive interaction resembles farming, in which the hogs “tend” a crop by removing native plant cover on a repeated basis, which promotes yellow nutsedge. “Yellow nutsedge is one of the first crops domesticated by humans, and it is likely that humans, like the hogs, took advantage of the clonal nature of this plant to perpetuate it,” Callie adds.
Their manuscript “Twelve years of repeated wild hog activity promotes population maintenance of an invasive clonal plant in a coastal dune ecosystem” was published online in the open-access journal Ecology and Evolution. Read the full article here.
Callie Oldfield has worked as a post-baccalaureate fellow for the last year, focusing on plant ecology research. She plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology.