Weed Science Society of America honors Lazaro-Lobo, Ervin and Evans

Mississippi State University's Adrian Lazaro-Lobo, a biological sciences doctoral candidate; Gary N. Ervin, biological sciences professor; and Kristine Evans, assistant professor in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, have been recognized for Outstanding Paper by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA).

The group was among more than two dozen individuals honored for their outstanding contributions to the field of weed science. The awards were presented during the organization’s first virtual annual meeting held Feb. 15-19, hosted online and attended by weed scientists from around the globe.

The paper titled, “Evaluating landscape characteristics of predicted hotspots for plant invasions,” was published in Invasive Plant Science and Management in September 2020.

“Our team is proud of the work done by Ph.D. candidate Adrian Lazaro-Lobo, and honored by the national recognition of our paper. The paper represents the culmination of over a year’s work developing models of distributions of several dozen invasive plants in the region, and will be helpful to land managers in identifying areas at high risk for species invasions. It also highlights the connections between urbanization and the spread of invasive plant species,” Evans said.

While species distribution models have been used to predict the threat of invasive species across landscapes, most have used predictive variables at a single spatial scale. This study analyzed a number of variables related to climate, topography, land cover and use, as well as the population of a specific invasive species in a given area. Armed with this information, scientists are able to predict with more precision which areas in the southeastern U.S. are more susceptible to invasion by 45 invasive terrestrial plant species.

“Ultimately our hope is that we can target management in areas at high risk to help prevent substantial eradication costs in the future. This information will also be useful in identifying where areas of high invasion risk and high conservation value may line up, so we can develop strategies to protect those areas as best we can,” Evans said.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Vanessa Beeson | Agriculture and Natural Resources Marketing

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