Invasion Potential of the Annual Plant Dittrichia Graveolens in Grasslands:

Competition, disturbance, biotic resistance, and seed dormancy

Miranda MelenParker Lab

Positions: 1 intern

Tentative dates: June – September 2021

Project Location: UCSC Coastal Science Campus and Main Campus, as well as day trips to Santa Clara County and Blue Oak Ranch Reserve

Project Background: Summer internship in plant ecology and evolution. We are looking for an intern to join Team Dittrichia at the Parker Lab, to study the invasion potential of invasive weeds in California. Dittrichia graveolens (stinkwort) was first found in California in 1984 in Santa Clara County, and has since spread rapidly across the state. Although Dittrichia initially spread mostly along roadsides, it has now started to invade native plant communities, restoration land, and grasslands. We use a variety of field, greenhouse, and lab approaches to study how rapid evolution has contributed to the invasion of Dittrichia. For example, off-road populations of plants may become more competitive with native species, allowing them to spread away from roadsides.

Intern duties: The intern will be involved in a project that focuses on competitive interactions with California native plants and how disturbance facilitates invasion by non-native plants. Depending on the intern’s background, skills, and interests, activities may include growing, measuring, and harvesting plants in the greenhouse and field. Field work will take place at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in Santa Clara County or at other sites in Santa Clara County. Greenhouse work will take place at UCSC, either at the Coastal Science Campus, or on the main campus of UCSC. At the end of their project, the intern will present a poster with the results of their research.

Intern qualifications: We are looking for an enthusiastic student with a strong motivation to dig into the evolutionary ecology of invasive plants. Essential skills include ability to communicate effectively on multiple platforms (email, text, Zoom, and phone), strong attention to detail, and excellent record-keeping. The field element of the project will require the ability to work outdoors under hot summer conditions and access to a vehicle. Familiarity with the statistical package R and/or JMP, and botanical knowledge is desirable, but not required.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Yes, it greatly enhances the intern’s experience to engage with the lab during Spring quarter and helps ensure that they are prepared for the summer project.

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.