Volunteers Make a Difference in an Early Detection Rapid Response Citizen Science Program



Speaker and Bio:

Julie K. Combs, PNW IPC (Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council), Seattle, WA

Since 2012, Dr. Julie Combs has served as director for the PNW IPC's regional “boots-on-the-ground” Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Citizen Science Program. Julie earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Ecology and Conservation from the University of Washington. In Washington and Oregon her research focused on invasive species and rare plant ecology conservation and management. She was awarded an NSF- IGERT fellowship during her doctoral work that allowed her to travel to South Africa, China and Chile to work with international researchers on problems in the field of pollination biology and evolution. In China, she engaged in an interdisciplinary study examining how socio-eco-political factors affect plant biodiversity in Jiuzhaigou National Park, China.  She has published her research in journals such as Ecological Applications, American Journal of Botany and the American Naturalist. She has taught numerous courses related to ecology, conservation and management at the University of Washington and is happiest when working on applied conservation problems.

Presentation Summary:

After prevention, Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) is the most effective method to control the establishment and spread of new populations of invasive plants. Invasive species management is often constrained by time and resources. In 2012, the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council (PNW IPC) developed an EDRR Citizen Science Invasive Plant Program in order to support county, state and federal management agencies working to locate and eradicate invasive species in Washington State. To date the PNW IPC’s EDRR program has trained over 260 Citizen Scientists to identify target EDRR species and conduct surveys in natural areas on county, state and federal public lands in Washington and Oregon State. We will present how our volunteers have made measurable progress in the effort to detect report and eradicate priority invasive plants from public lands since 2012. We will also present other metrics of success, challenges and lesson learned.