Seminar on Hybrid Beachgrass

May 12, 2022 - 3:30 PM
Hatfield Marine Science Center
2030 SE Marine Dr
Newport, OR
Hatfield Marine Science Center Research Seminar Series


Experiment with hybrid beachgrass at HMSC.
Experiment with hybrid beachgrass at HMSC, with Rebecca Mostow in the background.\Photo by Mark Farley.

As part of the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Research Seminar Series, Rebecca Mostow will present “Like watching grass grow: Impacts of a newly-discovered ecosystem-engineering hybrid beachgrass on plant species interactions and dune building potential on the U.S. Pacific Northwest coast.” It takes place on Thursday, May 12, 3:30 p.m.

These events are now hybrid.  They can be attended in person in the auditorium of the new Marine Studies Building at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (2030 S.E. Marine Science Dr. in the South Beach area of Newport), or viewed online.  To register for online attendance, go to

Mostow, a PhD candidate at Oregon State University, has been studying the spread along the Oregon coast of a new hybrid of two invasive beachgrasses.  CoastWatch has been engaged in assisting the survey for the new hybrid as a citizen science project.

Rebecca Mostow’s research on a novel hybrid zone between the non-native beachgrasses Ammophila arenaria and A. breviligulata has earned her awards and funding from the National Science Foundation, the Washington Native Plant Society, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. She received a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in 2013, where she completed a senior project on desert plant systematics. Before starting her graduate degree, she conducted research and taught at Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and the Bureau of Land Management Carson City District.

Her description of her seminar:

“The two dominant beachgrasses of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Ammophila arenaria (European beachgrass) and A. breviligulata (American beachgrass), build tall stable dunes that increase coastal protection but decrease habitat for some native animal and plant species. For decades, these intentionally planted but invasive grasses have presented complex tradeoffs to land managers trying to balance conservation and coastal protection. It was recently discovered that these two nonnative grasses are hybridizing on the Oregon and Washington coast. In 2020, a Markham-funded common garden experiment was installed at HMSC to investigate the potential for competition between these two species and their interspecific hybrid. Results from the experiment show that the hybrid beachgrass can grow at higher stem densities than either parent grass (a trait important for dune building potential) and that the hybrid negatively impacts both parent grasses when grown in competition. Understanding the impact of this novel hybrid beachgrass is imperative in a system where changes in dominant beachgrass may impact dune shape, coastal protection, and biodiversity conservation.”