Research Highlights / Full Story

RIT imaging scientists are working with the Ganondagan State Historic Site-a Native American resource and education center-and the New York State Department of Parks and Recreation to map the spread of swallow wart, an invasive species and poisonous plant that can trick monarch butter!ies into laying their eggs in its pods due to the plant's similarity to native milk weed pods.

"Butterfly eggs laid in swallow wart will not hatch, so the spread of these plants is negatively impacting the local monarch population, while also inhibiting native plants and the overall ecology of the region," notes Roger Dube, professor of imaging science at RIT. "We are using global positioning technology to analyze the spread of the plant and to assist in collection."

The RIT team uses GPS to identify and locate swallow wart infestations, and then works with parks and recreation to eradicate the plants. A pilot removal program was undertaken last summer at Ganondagan and the team hopes to work with the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy as well as parks and recreation to duplicate the effort at other sites throughout the state.

The project is part of a larger partnership between RIT and Ganondagan to integrate the use of Native American techniques to support modern sustainability and environmental responsibility efforts in the region. The initiative also includes Jason Younker, associate professor of anthropology, and Jeffrey Burnette, lecturer in economics.