Jacob Barney

Associate Professor

Program Focus

My research interests are focused on identifying and evaluating the factors that interact along the invasion pathway that begins as a benign introduction and results in a widespread harmful invasion. By parsing this complex process into the contributing factors of 1) species characteristics, 2) receiving habitat dynamics, 3) source environment conditions, 4) propagule pressure, and 5) time since introduction, we are better able to understand existing invasions by empirically evaluating the components singly or in interaction.

We work in a variety of natural and managed ecosystems across the Southeastern US, and have projects on both emerging and longstanding invaders. We are interested in propagule biology and dispersal, population dynamics, allelopathy, ecological impact quantification, risk assessment, and simulation modeling.

Current Projects

  • Spatial risk assessment of bioenergy crops
  • Ecological impact of invasive plant species in natural systems
  • Interaction of propagule pressure, species traits, and receiving habitat characters determining invasion success
  • Invasion potential characterization of perennial grasses introduced as bioenergy crops


Ph.D., Invasive Plant Ecology, Cornell University, 2007

M.S., Weed Science, Cornell University, 2003

B.S., Chemistry, University of Kentucky, 2000


  • August 2010 – present – Assistant Professor of Invasive Plant Ecology

Selected Major Awards

  • 2015 - Outstanding Researcher Award, Northeastern Weed Science Society
  • 2008 – Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Weed Science Society of America
  • 2008 – Robert D Sweet Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Northeastern Weed Science Society

Courses Taught

  • PPWS 4604 – Biological Invasions
  • PPWS 5604G – Advanced Biological Invasions

Other Teaching and Advising

I “co-coach” Virginia Tech’s Weed Team. The Team gives students experience in identifying weeds at all life stages, calibrating various herbicide application technologies, identifying herbicides based on crop and weed symptomology, and role play experience as an extension agent solving problems. The team has won several regional contests: First place at the Southern Collegiate Weed Contest in 2012, and the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Contest in 2012.

Last five years (* indicates graduate or undergraduate student)

  • Smith LL*, Allen DJ, Barney JN (2015) The thin green line: sustainable bioenergy feedstocks or invaders in waiting. Neobiota In Press

  • Dougherty RF*, Quinn LD✝, Voigt TB, Barney JN (2015) Response of naturalized and ornamental cultivars of Miscanthus sinensis to soil moisture and light stress. Northeastern Naturalist In Press
  • Smith LL*, Allen DJ, Barney JN (2015) Yield potential and stand establishment for 20 candidate bioenergy feedstocks. Biomass & Bioenergy In Press
  • Smith LL*, Hagood ES, Askew SD, Barney JN (2015) Screening PRE- and POST-emergent herbicides for safety in bioenergy crops. Weed Technology In Press
  • Quinn LD✝, Scott EC, Endres AB, Barney JN, Voigt TB, McCubbins JSN (2015) Resolving regulatory uncertainty: legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks. GCB Bioenergy In Press
  • Driscoll DA, Catford JA, Barney JN, Hulme PE, Inderjit, Martin TG, Pauchard A, Pyšek P, Richardson DM, Riley S, Visser V (2014) New pasture plants intensify invasive species risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111: 16622-16627
  • Ward SM, Cousens RD, Bagavathiannan MV, Barney JN, Beckie HJ, Busi R, Davis AS, Dukes JS, Forcella F, Freckleton RP, Gallandt ER, Hall LM, Jasieniuk M, Lawton-Rauh A, Lehnhoff EA, Liebman M, Maxwell BD, Mesgaran MB, Murray JV, Neve P, Nuñez MA, Pauchard A, Queenborough SA, Webber BL (2014) Agricultural weed research: A critique and two proposals. Weed Science 62: 672-678
  • Barney JN (2014) Invited Review: Bioenergy and invasive plants: Quantifying and mitigating future risks. Invasive Plant Science and Management 7: 199-209
  • Barney JN, Tekiela DR* (2014) The author’s reply to Hulme et al. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12: 154-155
  • Smith LL*, Barney JN (2014) The relative risk of invasion: Evaluation of Miscanthus × giganteus seed establishment. Invasive Plant Science and Management 7: 93-106
  • Dougherty RF*, Quinn LD✝, Endres AB, Voigt TB, Barney JN (2014) Natural history survey of the ornamental grass Miscanthus sinensis in the introduced range. Invasive Plant Science and Management 7: 113-120
  • Tekiela DR*, Barney JN (2013) Quantifying Microstegium vimineum seed movement by non-riparian water dispersal using an ultraviolet-marking based recapture method. PLoS ONE 8(9): e63811. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063811
  • Mann JJ*, Barney JN, Kyser GB, DiTomaso JM (2013) Miscanthus × giganteus and Arundo donax shoot and rhizome tolerance of extreme moisture stress. GCB Bioenergy 5: 693-700
  • Feldhaus JJ*, Copenheaver CA, Barney JN (2013) Mapping and management of the non-native Japanese spirea at Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve, Virginia. Natural Areas Journal 33: 435-439
  • Barney JN, Tekiela DR*, Dollete E, Tomasek B (2013) What is the "real" impact of invasive plant species? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11: 322-329
  • Mann JJ*, Barney JN, Kyser GB, DiTomaso JM (2013) Root system dynamics of Miscanthus × giganteus and Panicum virgatum in response to rainfed and irrigated conditions in California. BioEnergy Research 6: 678-687
  • Mann JJ*, Kyser GB, DiTomaso JM, Barney JN (2013) Assessment of above and belowground        vegetative fragments as propagules in the bioenergy crops Arundo donax and Miscanthus × giganteus. BioEnergy Research 6: 688-698
  • DiTomaso JM, Barney JN, Mann JJ*, Kyser GB (2013) For switchgrass cultivated as biofuel in California, invasiveness limited by several steps. California Agriculture Journal 67: 96-103
  • Quinn LD✝, Barney JN, McCubbins JSN, Endres, AB (2013) Navigating the “noxious” and “invasive” regulatory landscape, or lack thereof: Suggestions for improved regulatory performance. BioScience 63: 124-131
  • McCubbins JSN, Endres AB, Quinn LD✝, Barney JN (2013) Frayed seams in the “patchwork quilt” of American Federalism: an empirical analysis of invasive plant species regulation. Environmental Law 43: 35-81
  • Barney JN, Mann JJ*, Kyser GB, DiTomaso JM (2012) Assessing habitat susceptibility and resistance to invasion by the bioenergy crops switchgrass and Miscanthus × giganteus in California. Biomass & Bioenergy 40: 143-154
  • Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2011) Global climate niche estimates for bioenergy crops and invasive species of agronomic origin: potential problems and opportunities. PLoS ONE  6(3): e17222. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017222
  • Darin GM*, Schoenig S, Panetta FD, Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2011) WHIPPET: A novel system for prioritizing invasive plant populations for regional eradication. Journal of Environmental Management 92: 131-139
  • Young SL*, Kyser GB, Barney JN, Claassen VP, DiTomaso JM (2011) The role of light and soil moisture in plant community resistance to invasion by yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis). Restoration Ecology 19: 599-606
  • Young SL*, Kyser GB, Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2010) Spatio-temporal relationship between water use and root distribution patterns of Centaurea solstitialis and two native perennials. Restoration Ecology 18: 323-333
  • DiTomaso JM, Reaser JK, Dionigi CP, Doering OC, Chilton E, Schardt J, Barney JN (2010) Biofuel vs. Bioinvasion: Seeding Policy Priorities. Environmental Science & Technology. 44:6906-6910
  • Blanchard ML, Barney JN, Averill KM*, Mohler C, DiTommaso A (2010) Does polyembryony confer greater competitive advantage in the invasive vine Vincetoxicum rossicum (Apocynaceae)? American Journal of Botany 97: 251-260
  • Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2010) Bioclimatic predictions of habitat suitability for the biofuel switchgrass in North America under current and future climate scenarios. Biomass & Bioenergy 34: 124-133
Jacob Barney
  • (540) 231-6323
  • jnbarney@vt.edu
  • 103 Old Glade Road Research Center
    Mail code: 0390
    Blacksburg, VA 24061