Congratulations to Dr. Susan Dudley for her success in the Ontario Ministry of Transportation HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION FUNDING PROGRAM competition.
Dr. Dudley was funded for the project “Increasing biodiversity in MTO’s roadside seed mixes through the use of native seed”
Most of the roadsides belonging to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, over 16,000 kilometers, are planted with non-native grasses. But the Ministry sees the potential for roadsides where native grasses and wildflowers thrive, providing habitat for bees and other pollinators. Through the Highway Infrastructure Innovation Funding Program, they are funding Dr. Susan Dudley, Biology, McMaster University for a three year study of the feasibility of native roadside plantings in Ontario. Starting this fall, new Ph.D. student Stefan Weber will initiate experimental studies along 1.4 km of roadside to determine what planting practices and native species work best in Ontario roadsides. He will also review best practices for Iowa, Saskatchewan, Minnesota, and other jurisdictions that carry out successful native roadside plantings. Stefan comes in with an M.Sc. from the University of Guelph and ecological restoration experience from his work at St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre. Dr. Dudley will recruit a Master’s student for next summer who will study existing Ontario native roadside plantings on the 407, Highway 40, and the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway. Native roadside plantings are not just pretty, but also provide considerable ecological benefits. They potentially create ecological corridors that reduce habitat fragmentation and buffer plants and animals against climate change.