Scientists & Staff

Cynthia Huebner

Research Botanist
180 Canfield St.
Morgantown, WV, 26505
Phone: 304-285-1582

Contact Cynthia Huebner


Current Research

My research focuses on the biology and ecology of invasive plant species in forest systems, especially in
association with anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Research topics include:

  • prediction of vulnerability to invasion (from seed bank, to establishment, to spread),
  • competitive ability of common invaders (such as Ailanthus altissima and Microstegium vimineum) in comparison with associated native species and under various environmental conditions,
  • basic biology and reproductive ecology of common invaders, especially in terms of how these characteristics may explain their invasiveness or pinpoint particular weaknesses,
  • evaluation of detection methods for sampling so that establishing invaders (or rare species) are documented early and effectively, and
  • restoration of invaded forest sites.

Research Interests

My research will continue to focus on the biology and ecology of invasive plant species in forest systems, especially in association with anthropogenic and natural disturbances.

Why This Research is Important

Successful management of our forests is dependent on being able to predict the effects of invasive plant species on the maintenance of healthy forest systems as well as the effects of different management and disturbance regimes as potential deterrents or promoters of invasion.

Education

  • Miami University, Oxford, OH, Ph.D. Botany,
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, IN., M.S. Environmental Science,
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, IN., M.A. Plant Ecology,
  • University of California, B.S. Biology,

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America (1988 - Present)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (1988 - Present)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (1996 - Present)
  • Botanical Society of America (1997 - Present)
  • Center for Plant Conservation (1997 - Present)
  • International Association of Vegetation Scientists (1999 - Present)
  • Southern Appalachian Botanical Society (2000 - Present)
  • Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council (2002 - Present)
  • West Virginia Invasive Species Working Group (2002 - Present)
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences (2003 - Present)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Example of regionally (Ridge and Valley) defined species Gaultheria procumbens. Cynthia D. Huebner, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Forests Characterized More by Regionally Defined Understory Species are Less Vulnerable to Invasion

Year: 2016

Current forest understory composition may help predict future invasion by exotic plants. Sites with species that can be found across regions and are indicators of disturbance are more prone to invasion than sites with regionally different species, though these regionally defined species may be found in both disturbed and undisturbed sites.

Excavating the roots. USDA Forest Service

Staghorn Sumac Out-competes Ailanthus Under Different Light and Density Conditions

Year: 2015

In a greenhouse and common garden study led by a Forest Service scientist, staghorn sumac out-competed ailanthus (tree-of-heaven). Thus, at least one native early successional species may be able to deter this non-native invasive tree, if the site has sumac seeds and seedlings already present. These results highlight the importance of maintaining healthy native seed and seedling banks.

Rock skullcap flower. Ronald A. Polgar, USDA Forest Service

A Globally Rare Plant's Response to Fire

Year: 2014

The resiliency of rock skullcap, a globally rare plant, was studied by a Forest Service scientist working with a National Forest System ecologist. They found that populations increased after a prescribed burn, but decreased to pre-burn levels after one more growing season. Total cover of other understory vegetation also increased after the burn and continued at higher levels for another year. Rock skullcap is resilient to fire, but frequent fire or more severe fires with greater increases in other understory vegetation could be detrimental to this species.

Last modified: Sunday, December 10, 2017