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Book on weeds and invasive plants discusses how to manage them using ecological approaches

RIVERSIDE, Calif. As people become more globally mobile, plants can inadvertently get transported with them, resulting in new plants appearing in places not used to hosting them. Such invasions of exotic species can occur rapidly, taking over new territories at the expense of native plants.

How weeds and invasive plants develop and interact in their new environment, and how people can manage and control them, are addressed in a newly revised book, Ecology of Weeds and Invasive Plants: Relationship to Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (Wiley-Interscience, 2007), a classic reference authored by Jodie S. Holt, a professor of plant physiology at the University of California, Riverside, and two other coauthors.

After development and urbanization, invasive species are the top reason for loss of biodiversity on our planet, said Holt, who is also the chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. Indeed, the introduction of exotic species into an area is the number one biological reason for the displacement of native species. People move plants around, deliberately and accidentally. While some plants are easily absorbed into new ecosystems, others can spread prolifically and cause much damage.

Now in its third edition, the book is the first to integrate an understanding of weeds in agriculture and other managed systems (such as forests and rangelands) with an understanding of weeds in natural ecosystems (such as wildlands).

It provides both an introduction to weeds and invasive plants in various environments and an overview of their ecology and evolution. Its focus is the biological features of weeds and invasive plants found in agriculture, forests, rangelands, and natural ecosystems.

We cover a variety of exotic invasive plants and discuss methods and tools for managing them, Holt said. It is a hands-on reference for land managers and professionals in plant sciences, agronomy, weed science, and horticulture. Theres something in it for any student of agriculture, ecology, natural resources management, environmental management, or related fields.

Chapters of the book address a variety of topics such as:

  • the impact of weeds and invasive plants on ecosystems
  • how exotic plants enter new environments (both natural wildlands and managed lands such as agricultural fields), spread, and do harm
  • basic genetics and evolution of weeds and invasive plants and the role humans play in facilitating them
  • how populations of weeds and invasive plants reproduce, spread, and maintain themselves
  • how plants interact with each other in positive and negative ways
  • how weeds in agricultural and other managed lands and also invasive plants in natural wildlands (such as forests and deserts) can be prevented and managed.

The penultimate chapter provides a thorough overview of the development, properties, regulation, use, and fate of herbicides; the final chapter is a review of the most current and innovative approaches for managing weeds and invasive plants, and also describes and justifies the need to integrate consideration of human and cultural systems into land management practices.

The first edition of the book, published by Wiley in 1987, described principles of ecology and explained the relationships of weeds to agricultural development. The second edition, published by Wiley in 1997, dramatically expanded the subject matter by including chapters on weed demography, interference, methods to study weed/crop interactions, and the physiology of competition. It also included three chapters on weed control and for the first time introduced social and ethical concerns that can arise from that practice.

In the just released third edition, the authors maintain the basic structure of the earlier editions, but expand the topics to include exotic invasive plants of wildland ecosystems, as well as weeds in agriculture and other managed systems. They also update the previous texts with more recent references and provide different as well as additional examples.

At UC Riverside, Holt conducts research in ecology of weedy and invasive plants to contribute to ecologically sound weed management practices. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Weed Science Society of America. An associate editor of the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management, Holt is a member of the Ecological Society of America and the California Invasive Plant Council.

Her coauthors of the third edition of Ecology of Weeds and Invasive Plants: Relationship to Agriculture and Natural Resource Management are Steven R. Radosevich of Oregon State University and Claudio M. Ghersa of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Professor Radosevich also coauthored the first two editions while Professor Ghersa joined the project for the second and third editions.


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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