“Invasions stink: the response of Dittrichia graveolens to competition and disturbance, and its seed bank dynamics”

Guest Speaker: Miranda Melen         Monday, January 8, 2024 7:30 pm      Zoom registration

Miranda Melen prepares a field site for a competition experiment. Photo credit: Emma Snyder

Stinkwort growing among senesced grasses in the summer heat in Santa Clara County, CA. Photo credit: Andrew Lopez.

Miranda Melen and visiting scholar Michael Fernandez (University of Guam) are measuring plant height for a disturbance experiment. Photo credit: Emma Snyder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invasive species significantly threaten global biodiversity, often disrupting ecosystems and impacting native communities. Stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens), is a rapidly spreading invader in California. In this study, we develop an improved understanding of the factors influencing stinkwort’s invasion in California. We conducted a combination of germination trials, and greenhouse, mesocosm, and field experiments to integrate insights from evolutionary ecology, response to competition and disturbance, and seed bank dynamics.

Miranda Melen is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in plant invasion biology in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. She is the recipient of the 2023 Howard-Kohn Memorial Scholarship from Marin Chapter CNPS. Her research focuses on understanding the spreading potential of invasive species and the underlying mechanisms that drive their invasion. Specifically, Miranda investigates stinkwort’s (Dittrichia graveolens) competition dynamics, seed bank persistence, and whether populations are evolving rapidly.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Miranda has a diverse background encompassing restoration, vegetation management, plant conservation, and teaching. Outside of her scientific endeavors, she finds inspiration in weekend activities with her family, such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and baking.

Miranda’s ultimate aspiration is to contribute to the academic community by teaching at a university. Her primary goal is to actively engage and support underrepresented students in STEM fields, fostering inclusivity and equity within higher education.