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July 2017 Newsletter

A Closer Look #173


New Greenhouse at AWRI

New Greenhouse at AWRI

The newest addition to AWRI’s campus is a greenhouse located on the west side of the Field Station. Nicknamed ‘The Baby Greenhouse’, it measures 8 ft x 12 ft and is currently being used by Dr. Charlyn Partridge’s lab to grow the ornamental plant, baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata). Baby’s breath is a highly invasive species throughout the northwest Michigan sand dunes system. It outcompetes native species for space and resources, and alters the natural shifting patterns of the dunes. Through funding provided by an Environmental Protection Agency – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (EPA-GLRI) grant, Dr. Partridge and her students are using genetic tools to understand how baby’s breath colonized the area and track how it is spreading throughout the region. They are also working to determine whether a newly identified color morph in the sand dunes represents a different species of baby’s breath. The greenhouse is currently being used to grow two commercial strains of baby’s breath, as well as specimens from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. These specimens will be used to gain more genetic data for this species so that we can better understand their success as an invasive in the region.