Jeff Firestone

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UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences
Weed Science Program
University of California
Davis, California 95616

Phone: (530) 752-8284

Email: firestone [at]

Position: Graduate Student
Education: 1995-1999: B.S. Biology & English Literature, University of Michigan
Research Interests: ∞ Allee effects in invasive species, especially pollen/pollinator limitation

∞ Teaching of Ecology and basic science comprehension / communication for undergraduates

Research Summary: My main research uses Lolium multiflorum, both as a model and an interesting weed in its own right. L. multiflorum, or annual ryegrass, is a common weed of orchards, and wheat, and found on most roadsides in Yolo County. It is a frequent invasive plant in grasslands, wetlands and vernal pools. It is also a desirable hay, pasture and cover crop species, and the subject of our herbicide resistance studies.
To discover what happens in small populations, such as new introductions, one cannot simply bring new invasive plants in and watch what happens. To simulate that event, I created a series of artificial 'new invasions' growing invasive Lolium in experimental patches in an agricultural field. In these created populations, I control the population size and putative genetic diversity independently. In natural, small populations, it is difficult or impossible to separate out the effect of having few individuals from having few alleles because there are so few individuals to carry them. This design should suggest the relative importance, in this system, of population size, genetic diversity (e.g. inbreeding), self-incompatibility and unexpected rabbit herbivory on the success of a small population of a plant species known to naturally increase.

In parallel, I am also looking at natural populations of comparable size to validate that they exhibit the same patterns as the experimental ones.