Rima Lucardi

Research Ecologist
320 Green Street
Athens, GA 30602-2044
Phone: 706-559-4278
Fax: 318-473-7222

Research Interests

I possess a broad training in the fields of biology, ecology, and population genetics. My research focuses on mitigating and preventing exotic plant invasions in Southern forest communities. I utilize diverse approaches at various scales to elucidate generalizable characteristics associated with biological invasions. I combine the basic tenets of invasion biology with conservation biology to better address the needs of forest communities. I utilize both population and landscape genetics to identify the vectors and pathways that disperse propagules of undesirable plant species and range expansion dynamics in the invaded range. These data can then be utilized for more effective management of available resources by identifying target populations that source new invasive populations.

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Research Highlights

Can plant invasions be prevented? Multidisciplinary identification and interception of non-native, invasive plants at the Port of Savannah, Georgia, USA (2017)
SRS-2017-155 The positive relationship between increasing national gross domestic product (GDP) and non-native plant species-richness suggests that international trade volumes probably contribute to exotic plant invasions and that major seaports may serve as gateways for plant propagules (e.g., seeds or other structures that can found a new population in a new range). The Port of Savannah, 11-miles in on the Savannah River from the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the nation's largest and busiest container terminals in North America. Forest Service scientists and their collaborating partners designed a research study to: (1) examine the baseline plant diversity at the container terminal; and (2) assess the species diversity, propagule pressure, and the risk of new, non-native plant invasions from cryptically hitchhiking seeds on shipping containers.

Hitchhiking Seeds Pose Risk of Plant Invasions at Seaports (2020)
SRS-2020-40 Hitchhiking seeds collected from refrigerated shipping containers can pose a significant invasive species risk, according to recent USDA Forest Service research at the Port of Savannah. Seaports-of-entry, where commodities arrive in the U.S. from overseas via sea transportation, are hotspots of nonnative plant diversity and are significantly different from nearby sites. Biological invasions by nonnative organisms have been repeatedly shown to detrimentally impact the environment and the economy of the nation.

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