Saving Tribal Heritage By Planting Roots

Saving Tribal Heritage By Planting Roots.
Out came the invasive ravenna grass weeds that had grown over the years, posing a wildfire risk as they squeeze out native plants central to the culture, religion, and history of Jackson’s Native American forebears.
It was natural that Jackson was attracted to biology college courses.
So, Jackson thought it kismet when her mother heard about a position in UNLV ecologist Scott Abella’s lab seeking students to incorporate culturally important plants into their research.
Despite having no restoration ecology experience, Jackson was drawn to the Native American aspect of the project as well as the university’s proximity to her hometown.
"We were delighted to see Ka-Voka’s application to the UNLV graduate program because she is from a local tribe and it is a special opportunity for her to work on her tribe’s ancestral lands," Abella said.
"The Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon area is a special place and as a protected national park unit and one of America’s most special places, we want the area to be in a reasonably natural state.
Our goal is to begin restoring at least patches of native plants, including culturally important native plants, to identify techniques that are ecologically and cost-effective for restoring native ecosystems across larger areas.
For the Glen Canyon restoration project, she recruited three UNLV undergraduates to drive nearly five hours to Page, Arizona — then take a four-hour boat ride — to camp in a remote desert site for five days of planting over Spring Break.
For example, in a low-water area, you can sub out one native plant for another.

Wheat virus crosses over, harms native grasses

Wheat virus crosses over, harms native grasses.
New research shows, however, that a common wheat virus can spread and harm perennial native grasses.
In the current issue of the Journal of Ecology, researchers from Michigan State University, University of Kansas and University of Virginia show that farmers and scientists need to think about how best to protect native plants from diseases emanating from crops.
"Crop fields were once considered tiny islands in a sea of wild vegetation, so farmers and scientists focused on protecting crops from wild pathogens," said Carolyn Malmstrom, MSU plant biologist and co-lead author of the study.
"Now, around the world, the situation has reversed, and diseases from agricultural fields affect not only crops, but also substantially harm native plants, such as switchgrass."
"Crops have been bred for yield, sometimes at the cost of plant defense.
If they are susceptible, fast-growing crops can serve as highly competent hosts that amplify viruses within a region," Malmstrom said.
While the study focused on merely one virus, it shows that science needs to catch up in understanding how crops influence native plants and to build more knowledge of virus ecology in general.
"There are many mysteries surrounding how crop viruses affect natural ecosystems," Malmstrom said.
"It’s important that we build a base of research in this area.