Study of 'forest killer' plant explores our vulnerability to rapid environmental change

ASU researchers walk through community forests grasslands that have been invaded by Mikania micrantha

It’s called mile-a-minute weed or “forest killer.”Mikania micrantha is an exotic, invasive species that spreads quickly, covering crops, smothering trees and rapidly altering the environment.

Researchers at Arizona State University are spearheading a four-year research project that will explore what factors cause people and the environment to be vulnerable to rapid environmental change, such as an invasion by Mikania.

Study findings likely will serve as a harbinger of the future as humans increasingly experience abrupt, extreme conditions associated with climate change, said Sharon J. Hall, the study’s co-principal investigator, sustainability scientist, and ASU School of Life Sciences associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“There are many communities that have to deal with and adapt to rapid change. Mikania is just one example," Hall said. "We’re looking at how social and ecological forces in communities make them more resistant or vulnerable to rapid environmental change."

Read more »