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C·I·B core team members and students showcase their research at EMAPI 11 in Hungary

The 11th International Conference on the Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions (EMAPI 11) was held in Szombathely, Hungary, from 30 August to 3 September 2011, hosted by the University of West Hungary. This meeting serves as an bi-annual platform for invasion ecologists, stakeholders, and managers from around the globe to gather to engage in discussions on the latest developments related to plant invasions and their management (the C·I·B hosted the previous EMAPI in Stellenbosch in 2009).

The theme of the 2011 conference was bridging the gap between theoretical, scientific research and management practice. EMAPI 11 was attended by 136 delegates from 34 different countries, including a large contingent of South Africans representing the academic sector (Stellenbosch University, Rhodes University, and Walter Sisulu University), and the government (Department of Environmental Affairs, Working for Water, Agricultural Research Council, SANBI, and the Early Detection and Rapid Response Programme).

C·I·B core team members (Dave Richardson, Jaco Le Roux, Llewellyn Foxcroft, and Augustine Niba) and students (Marguerite Blignaut, Waafeka Vardien, Haylee Kaplan, and Sjirk Geerts) attended EMAPI 11 to showcase their research and deliver plenary talks and poster presentations. The broad range of topics covered during EMAPI 11 (including introduction pathways and spread of invasive species, genetics and evolution of invasive plants) provided an opportunity to exchange information on numerous aspects of plant invasions.

Dave Richardson gave the opening plenary talk on recent developments and challenges for invasion science. Jaco Le Roux and Marguerite Blignaut gave talks on the genetics of invasive Acacia saligna and Pennisetum setaceum in South Africa respectively, while Llewellyn Foxcroft spoke about research on the assessment of alien species as drivers of environmental change in protected areas. Llewellyn also presented a poster on the ecology and management of invasive alien plants. Augustine Nibaís poster detailed perceptions and ecological challenges caused by alien plant invasions in the Eastern Cape. Post-doctoral associate Sjirk Geerts and MSc student Haylee Kaplan presented posters on risk assessment and prioritization regarding Acacia stricta and Banksia ericifolia in South Africa, respectively. Masters student Waafeka Vardienís poster dealt with the invasion dynamics of Lantana camara in the Kruger National Park.

Overall, the conference offered interesting and stimulating talks and posters, many valuable discussions and ample networking opportunities, and also gave an insight into the ecological challenges that Hungary faces today. EMAPI 12 will be held in Brazil in 2013.