Rebecca Mostow

Rebecca Mostow with beachgrass 

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Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition’s CoastWatch program is providing a new opportunity for coastal residents, coastal visitors and beach walkers who want to participate in citizen science. A webinar, titled “A new kid on the dune: the unlikely hybridization between two non-native beachgrass species in the Pacific Northwest,” will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, June 15, and will illustrate the project and how you can get involved.

A team from Oregon State University recently discovered a hybrid beachgrass formed between two invasive and closely related beachgrass species. In the webinar on June 15, Rebecca Mostow, a PhD candidate at Oregon State University, will tell the story of how this unexpected discovery was made, the potential ecosystem effects of the hybrid grass, and explain how you can help discover new hybrids and expand our understanding of this unlikely event.

The two dominant beachgrasses of the Pacific Northwest, Ammophila arenaria (European beachgrass) and A. breviligulata (American beachgrass), build tall stable dunes that increase coastal protection but threaten some native animal and plant species. For decades, these intentionally planted but invasive grasses have presented complex tradeoffs to land managers trying to balance conservation and coastal protection. It was recently discovered that these two grass species, which have differential effects on dune shape and native plant diversity, are hybridizing.

Mostow is a PhD candidate and NSF Graduate Fellow at Oregon State University where she studies the ecology and population genetics of invasive grasses in coastal dunes. Her research on a novel hybrid zone between the non-native beachgrasses Ammophila arenaria and A. breviligulata has earned her awards and funding from the National Science Foundation, the Washington Native Plant Society, and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

To receive a link for the webinar, contact CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, Jesse Jones, jesse@oregonshores.org.

Founded in 1993, CoastWatch is a network of dedicated volunteers who monitor every foot of Oregon’s shoreline. Each CoastWatch volunteer adopts a segment of Oregon’s coast roughly a mile in length. Volunteers are connected with universities and scientists to collect data and survey everything from sea stars, tides, birds both alive and dead, marine debris and more.

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