Gary N. Ervin
Plant Ecology Lab ~ Aquatic Botany, Invasive Species, Wetland Ecology
Department of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University
Plant invasion and nutrient dynamics in riverine wetlands
Mitigation of nutrient runoff is one of the more important ecosystem services provided to us by wetlands. The capacity for this service, however, can be reduced by increasing nutrient loads, as well as by establishment of invasive species. In 2020, we began a research program aimed at understanding how these two factors (eutrophication and species invasion) might impact the ability of native species to remove nutrients passing through freshwater wetlands. In this research, we are collaborating with the Environmental Research Lab at the US Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center, in Vicksburg, MS.
Invasive plants in southeastern forests
The Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South (IPAMS) was an effort funded by grants from the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Agriculture. In addition to serving as an educational resource for those interested in the spread and management of invasive plants, IPAMS supported research components aimed at evaluating relationships of invasive plant distribution and spread with land use. The end goal of all these projects was use of this information to educate agriculture stakeholders, natural resources managers, and other interested parties about potential human-induced opportunities for invasive species spread, as well as on approaches for managing invasive plants.
IPAMS research activities resulted in a database on plant distribution throughout Mississippi and adjacent states, and a portion of those research records have been made available publicly by deposition of voucher plant specimens in regional herbaria, sharing of distributional data directly with other interested scientists, and through scientific publications and presentations at regional and national conferences. Other data collected as part of surveys associated with IPAMS are the focus of ongoing research by students David Mason and Adrian Lazaro Lobo.
In 2019, we were awarded a grant from the US Forest Service's Forest Health Monitoring program to extend our work specifically in the area of invasive plants impacting southeastern US forest.
Managing nuisance aquatic vegetation
We have ongoing projects aimed at managing overabundant wetland plants, while minimizing negative impacts of management activities. This work has been looking at chemical control methods for four nuisance plant species at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, while monitoring potential water quality impacts on treated waters. This work has been funded by the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and the US Geological Survey, with additional support from the MSU Department of Biological Sciences and the Geosystems Research Institute.
Wetlands and water quality in agricultural landscapes
Graduate students Cory Shoemaker and Evelyn DiOrio spent the years 2014-2017 working to understand the ecology of restored wetlands in the Mississippi Delta. Specifically, they were interested in interactions among wetland plants, water quality, and land use in this agriculturally dominated landscape. This work was funded by the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and the US Geological Survey, with additional support from the MSU Department of Biological Sciences.
This work is continuing through continued analyses of data collected during Cory and Evelyn's work and with the addition of Andrew Sample to the lab in 2020.