PlantLink Researcher in the Spotlight – Tina D´Hertefeldt

Tina D’Hertefeldt at the Unit of Biodiversity, Department of Biology, Lund University. Tina has been the assistant director for PlantLink since 2016, and steps down at the end of this month.

What is currently on top of your research agenda?

This spring, we started a 4-year project on control methods of invasive alien plants. The first part is to evaluate the use of heat on rhizomes of Japanese knotweed. Currently we evaluate methods to determine live from dead plant tissue in cooperation with the research groups of Ola Wallberg and Federico Gomez at Kemicentrum, Lund university. The second part of the project regards effects of pig’s grazing together with Ingela Löfquist from Hushållningssällskapet. This project builds on the work done in the cross-disciplinary Pufendorf theme “Perspectives on Invasive Plants”, with participants from both SLU Alnarp and LU.

-Tell us about your latest publication?

It is an upcoming paper in Journal of Pollination Ecology that is nice to get published, since it involves work that me and Åsa Lankinen at SLU, Alnarp did together on oilseed rape. It is a cross-over of our research interests and involves both landscape ecological aspects and evolutionary metods such as pollen tube growth. It will be part of a Joint Special issue on pollination with  Nordic Journal of Botany, and includes papers from a conference with the Scandinavian Association for Pollination Ecology (SCAPE).

-What led you into your particular field of research?

I am especially interested in how plants respond to their environment, and started working with rhizomatous plants for my Bachelor’s thesis. I went on to work with the topic of resource sharing in rhizomatous plants for my PhD, and thereafter expanded to seed banks, plant-soil interactions, ferals and weeds. This path led me into Invasive Alien Species and the ways new plants respond to their environments, and how we can apply ecophysiological thinking in our control methods.

-What are the implications of your research for the society?

I believe it is fair to say that Sweden was quite slow in starting to work with Invasive Alien Species, with the exception of a long-term control program on the raccoon dog. However, after publication of the Swedish risk assessment in 2018, both regulations and research has sped up. The research on IAS involves both information campaigns to the public and evaluations of control methods, and are both targeted towards society.

-Finally, let´s say you got unlimited research funds; where would your research be five years from now?

When you are at the start of a new project, there are so many direction to go in that time becomes limiting. If I could dream I would cooperate with a PhD-student and assistants for in-depth evaluation of the control methods that are top of the list of what is used today, and include some new methods. A lot of effort globally has gone into research on Japanese knotweed, but we still lack a best practice control method that the authorities can recommend. I’d like to think that we may contribute knowledge to which methods are efficient in different situations – from control measures in private gardens to large-scale railway constructions. This includes information campaigns for why and when control may be necessary, or if it sometimes may not be necessary.