Climate change and grass fires



BAR HARBOR — Julia Rowe will present her work on the ecology and management of invasive grasses in the American Southwest Tuesday, May 14 at the College of the Atlantic.

The talk, co-sponsored by the Human Ecology Forum and part of the Seminar on Climate Change 2019 Speaker Series, begins at 4:10 p.m. in McCormick Lecture Hall.

Intended to feed cattle and prevent erosion, buffelgrass was brought to the southern United States in the 1930s. While rarely seen before the 1980s, buffelgrass is now taking over and altering the Southwest as a highly invasive species.

The grass is outcompeting native species and bringing fire into the Sonoran Desert, an area which does not naturally burn. Buffelgrass-fueled wildfires create hazards within the urban-wilderness interface and can turn Arizona’s fields of Saguaro cacti into grasslands overnight.

Climate change may increase the risk of wildfires and can expand the range of buffelgrass and other invasive grasses, exacerbating the threat to native species.

Rowe, who received a master’s degree from COA in 2002, will discuss the implications of non-native grasses on ecology and management of the American Southwest. She will discuss research and control of invasive grasses, and her work raising public awareness and giving area residents agency and tools to combat invasive grasses.

Rowe holds a Ph.D. in natural resource and environmental management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She works as an invasive species research specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tuscon.

Contact 288-5015.

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