Friday 7 December 2018

Ornamental plants: our future invaders?

Tomos next to his poster at the
2018 BSBI Exhibition Meeting
Image courtesy of T. Jones
Earlier this year, botanist Tomos Jones appeared on these pages and in BSBI News, reaching out to BSBI County Recorders on the subject of 'Garden plants: a threat to the environment due to climate change?'.

Tomos was at last month's BSBI Exhibition Meeting; he's now in the next phase of his research and wants to reach out to gardeners across Britain and Ireland. Over to Tomos to tell us more:

"It was great to meet many of you at the recent BSBI Exhibition Meeting, where I had a poster on my PhD research. I’m based at the University of Reading and my research aims to identify which ornamental (garden) plants have the potential to naturalise or become invasive in the future.

"Are you a gardener? If so, you can now help me identify problematic ornamental plants by completing this (very) short survey. See the September issue of BSBI News (p.51) on past research conducted by Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz and Judith Conroy. The plants resulting from the survey will be investigated further with a species distribution model. This can project probabilities of occurrence or identify climatic suitability for the future, allowing me to measure their naturalisation and/or invasive potential.

The beautiful Edge Hill campus: location
of the 2018 BSBI Exhibition Meeting
Image: T. Jones
"This research is a CASE PhD jointly supervised at the University of Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society under the NERC SCENARIO Doctoral Training Programme. It’s part of a broader interest that Reading and the RHS share on the potential impact of climate change on gardens and grew out of work done for the report ‘Gardening in a Changing Climate’ published in 2017.

"Earlier in the year, I had a survey for the County Recorders. Thanks to all of you who participated in this: some of the results were shown at the Exhibition Meeting. I’m now focusing on gardens, as a source of future invaders, because gardeners can be the first to observe plants showing ‘invasive characteristics’.

"The aim of this approach in combining citizen science with species distribution modelling, is to identify invasive potential early in the naturalisation-invasion process. This is widely regarded to be both ecologically and economically preferable to having to manage plants which have already become invasive in the wider environment.

"The survey is open to all gardeners in Britain and Ireland until the end of the year.
Twitter: @TomosJones92

Many thanks to Tomos for telling us more about his research - I hope that lots of you will take a few minutes to take part in Tomos' survey and help him identify any ornamental plants that may become problematic in the future.

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