Study finds ways to eliminate invasive plants naturally

College of Technology and Innovation professor and Senior Sustainability Scientist Heather Bateman is joining Northern Arizona University professor Matt Johnson to study how the tamarisk leaf beetle influences wildlife populations in Southwestern riparian ecosystems like the Virgin River that stretches through Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. Known as a type of "biocontrol," the beetle could naturally eliminate non-native vegetation like saltceder without causing harm to wildlife.

However, the endangered flycatcher often nests in saltceder, creating a controversial environment to test the beetle biocontrol.

"Some researchers have identified a potential dilemma that the biocontrol beetle could defoliate saltcedar where the flycatcher is nesting and cause nests to fail," Bateman says. "However, defoliation can occur at different times of the summer, depending upon beetle movement and densities. Therefore, it is important to determine the timing of saltcedar defoliation and flycatcher nesting."