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Tanner Humphries (picture below) arrived from Western Washington University this past Monday to start his 2-month internship at MPG Ranch. He will help us with ongoing projects and also spearhead one of his own. Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) invades plant communities in Montana but not in western Washington for unknown reasons. Tanner will grow MT and WA knapweed under the same conditions and compare their performance. He will also learn whether plants and soil microbial communities coevolved and if plants perform better when grown with their own soil microbial community compared with a community they have never encountered. In his spare time, he has promised to help weed our vegetable garden and spend time exploring the surroundings on a mountain bike. We look forward to 8 exciting weeks with Tanner!

Tanner Humpheries

Tanner Humphries plants

knapweed seeds for his

project on his first day on

the ranch. After the seeds

germinate, he will

transplant seedlings into

soil collected from either

MPG Ranch or western

Washington to see if plants

grow best in their “home”

soil environment. By

comparing growth of

plants from MT and WA,

we can also see if knapweed

from MT is more invasive partly

because MT plants grow

more vigorously than WA plants.

About the Author

Ylva Lekberg

Ylva graduated from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with a M.Sc. in Biology and Horticulture in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Penn State University in 2004. She received the Alumni Association Dissertation Award for her work in agroecology and subsistence farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. Post-doctoral positions at Montana State University and later at Copenhagen University as a Marie Curie Fellow have allowed her to explore the role of mycorrhiza, a root-fungus symbiosis, for geothermal plants in Yellowstone National Park and coastal grasslands in Denmark. Her research has been published in journals such as Ecology, Journal of Ecology and New Phytologist.

Ylva currently works at MPG Ranch as a soil ecologist. She explores the role of mycorrhiza in the success of exotic plants and examines the use of specific pathogens to combat invasions. In her spare time Ylva mountain-bikes, plays soccer, and maintains a large vegetable garden.