Sep 25th Webinar: Integrating plants, roots & soil nematodes to restore northern prairie ecosystems

Date: September 25, 2018

Time: 12:00 pm Pacific Time

Presenters: Rafael Otfinowski, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg and Victory Coffey, Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg.

Overview: Invasive exotic species threaten the biodiversity and function of native ecosystems.  Existing models, attempting to predict and manage successful invaders, often emphasize isolated stages of biological invasions and overlook the complex interactions between exotic species and natural ecosystems. We will focus our discussion on smooth brome (Bromus inermis), a Eurasian perennial grass, threatening the structure and composition of native prairies throughout the Great Plains. Focusing on interactions between smooth brome and northern fescue prairies in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, we will discuss the importance of clonal connections in the proliferation and the persistence of smooth brome clones and describe the impacts of smooth brome invasion on prairie soil communities. By incorporating natural interactions between exotic plants and fescue prairie communities, both above- and below-ground, our research contributes to the long-term management and restoration of natural areas invaded by exotic species. Register today to join this webinar.

Rafael Otfinowski's Bio: My research focuses on understanding links between plants and soils to conserve, manage, and restore prairie ecosystems. To accomplish these goals, I design greenhouse, field, and natural experiments to explore how the structure, composition, and diversity of restored prairie communities effects their function. I am fascinated by the vast root systems that connect plants and soil food webs and aim to use my research to help refine how we measure restoration success. I am also interested in understanding how invasive species affect ecosystems and how to use this information to prioritize the management of exotic invaders. In my research, I collaborate with conservation agencies, including Parks Canada, and beef and forage producers, to contribute to the restoration and sustainable use of native prairies ecosystems. My greatest and most rewarding challenge is to teach students about the evolution and function of grasslands and to learn from Indigenous and community members about the history, cultural uses, and conservation of these vast ecosystems. I have been teaching at the University of Winnipeg since 2014 and have traveled with my wife to earn our degrees from the Universities of Alberta, Western, and Manitoba, and McGill.

Victory Coffey's Bio: I’m a recent graduate of the Masters program at the University of Winnipeg where I earned my MSc. in Bioscience, Technology, and Public Policy. While in the program I worked in the Prairie Lab under Dr. Otfinowski and got the opportunity to conduct research in Riding Mountain National Park, MB where I studied the long-term impacts of tree establishment on rough fescue prairie communities. My main goal was to explore how the lasting effects of trees could prevent the future restoration of prairies by looking at the composition, structure and diversity of prairie communities both above and below ground. Recently, I’ve had the chance to expand on this work in Grasslands National Park and have begun to look at how roots connect these two communities. I find it very interesting how closely plant and soil diversity are linked and hope to continue this work in the future. 

Register today!

Webinar Registration - Northern Prairies - Sep 25, 2018

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