“Through March of this year, we have found and treated fewer Verbesina plants than during any other January-March period, despite more effective efforts to find and stimulate germination of seedlings,” noted Supervisory Wildlife Biologist Jon Plissner. “More significantly, we have encountered far fewer plants that have matured and dropped seeds than the same months of any other year—only eight across the entire atoll.”
According to Invasive Plant Bio-Technician Rachel Santulli, “the last individual Verbesina plant on Eastern Island was found on August 23. Fortunately, because the numbers are significantly lower on Eastern Island we are able to mark every single Verbesina plant location. The last drop seed (knock on wood) was found in January 2023.”
Capitalizing on years of effort by work crews and their leaders including former board member Wieteke Holthuijzen, FWS has been able to significantly advance their ability to detect and control Verbesina.
Intensified efforts to increase detectability of Verbesina in dense coastal shrublands of Sand Island have made a huge difference; not only by enabling the crew to find more plants before they go to seed, but also by stimulating dormant seeds to germinate rather than remain viable in the soil for several more years.
“Although there may come a time at which it becomes necessary to switch from a goal of eradication to one of maintaining low levels of occurrence, it currently seems premature to do so while progress is still being made toward eradication and the risk of reduced effort failing to keep numbers of plants in check is still uncertain,” notes Jon Plissner.
“Support of this proposal will provide opportunity to conduct some preliminary investigations of reducing frequency of monitoring efforts in select areas and provide more time to pursue other funding opportunities for the program.”
Friends of Midway Atoll is asking for your help to ensure this work continues through November 2023. With the support of our members and donors, FOMA is well positioned to match an anonymous donor’s generous gift to ensure that the work of Midway’s program to completely eradicate this noxious weed continues towards its historic goal. Click here to contribute via our fundraiser on Facebook.