Evaluating evidence for the Enemy Release Hypothesis using invasive mangroves as a model system.
The red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle, was introduced to the island of Molokai in 1902 to help trap sediment that was being lost from agricultural activities and heavy rains. After planting the propagules, (obtained from Florida where mangroves are native), the mangroves flourished and in the ensuing 100 years invaded nearly every major Hawaiian island. Today mangroves can be seen taking over beaches, mudflat, wetlands, and Hawaiian fishponds. Converting these habitats into dense tangled thickets of roots. These habitat changes are particularly disruptive to native endemic birds, some of which are endangered. Currently, I am investigating how invasive mangroves alter the structure and function of Hawaiian marine biodiversity and ecosystems.