Pushing Back Plants: The Invasive Spartina Project

San Francisco Bay is more than just the geographic feature that defines our region, it is a major global biodiversity hotspot. The largest estuary on the west coast of North America, it is a critical stopover along the Pacific Flyway migration route for millions of shorebirds and waterfowl. At a time when the world’s biodiversity is under increasing pressure, we have a golden opportunity to protect the treasure at the heart of the Bay Area. Rimming the Bay between freeways, airports, and landfills remain precious tidal wetlands and opportunities to return salt evaporator ponds to functioning ecosystems. After more than a century of destruction, restoration projects are reversing the trend. However, restoring these saltwater marshes may be for naught if we cannot stop another threat that we unleashed in the last century. Atlantic cordgrass planted to stabilize dredge spoils in the 1970s has since hybridized with Pacific cordgrass to create a highly fertile hybrid swarm that crowds out native marsh vegetation and colonizes mudflats to the detriment of foraging shorebirds. Since 2005, the Coastal Conservancy’s Invasive Spartina Project has used airboats, genetic testing, sophisticated GIS, and a lot of hard, muddy work to push back the invasive plants that threaten habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, and the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. Learn about how hometown heroes are doing their part to address the global biodiversity crisis.

About Our Speakers

Tobias Rohmer is the Monitoring Program Manager for the San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Project and works for Olofson Environmental, Inc. Tobias studied at UC Davis, where he did his Master’s thesis on California Ridgway’s rails, which included substantial field work and monitoring in SF Bay marshes with USGS and other partners. Each year after field season, Tobias travels worldwide to pursue his passion for birdwatching, most recently to Belize, Ecuador, Thailand, and Madagascar.

Lindsay Faye Domecus is an Environmental Biologist at Olofson Environmental Inc. She started at OEI in 2017 after finishing her Master’s degree in Environmental Science at San Francisco State University, where she studied environmental physiology. At OEI, Lindsay works extensively in the tidal marshes of the San Francisco Estuary mapping native and invasive plants, conducting breeding season surveys for California Ridgway’s rail, planning and managing marsh revegetation projects, and overseeing treatment of invasive Spartina. Lindsay also has a flair for artistic design and has produced several excellent music videos documenting the beauty of the San Francisco Estuary as discovered through her daily field work.