|INTERVIEW with Melissa Moser, Ecologist, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves
What do you do to preserve plants and natural areas in Ohio?
An important aspect of my job is to work with preserve managers to control invasive plant species. I help them identify where invasive species are located so we can make plans to eliminate them. Once invasives become established, they often threaten the rare plants and animal habitat we want to protect in our state nature preserves.
How do invasives threaten other plants?
There are many different ways. Some invasive plants grow quickly crowding out space for other plants to grow and restricting their access to sunlight and water. There may be other reasons as well.
How do you destroy invasive plants?
Sometimes we mow fields when native plants are not flowering. Sometimes we cut down invasives, especially those with woody stems that can become big and bushy.
This may require much time and effort. So when appropriate, we use herbicides and even fire to control the growth of invasives. For example, at Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve we have used different eco-management methods to control glossy buckthorn. The map to the left that I created shows where different methods have been used in the past at Irwin.
How did you make this map?
I used a geographic information system we call GIS and a hand held device called a global positioning system unit, or GPS unit. I took the GPS unit to Irwin Prairie and clicked it at points that defined the boundaries of different management methods used to destroy glossy buckthorn.
At the left is a picture of me using the GPS device in the field. Back at my office, I uploaded the boundary coordinates onto my computer. I then transferred the coordinates onto a GIS view of Irwin Prairie and connected the points to draw polygons.
What else do you do on your job?
I am available to talk to community groups, such as garden clubs, to educate people about invasive plants and teach them which types of native plants can be grown instead of invasive species.
I also respond to requests for information from the public and create informational materials, such as fact sheets, brochures and posters.
What is most challenging about your job?
Because I have two children and work part time, my biggest challenge is managing everything I want to accomplish in the time that I have at work. I have to remain very organized and focused when it comes to completing tasks.