At A Glance
A little over 67 percent of South Carolina is forestland. Aside from a $23 billion economic impact on the state, forestland contributes to the health and recreation of residents. Urban areas also benefit from the strategic landscaping of trees and plants, adding to the environmental sustainability and quality of life in those locales, so one invasive species — whether pest, plant or tree — has the potential to negatively impact the ecosystem if left unmanaged. As a recognized expert in forest health and a wide range of invasive species, David Coyle examines nonnative fauna and flora and teaches both professionals and the public management or eradication strategies for these pests.
David Coyle joined Clemson in 2018 as an assistant professor with a focus on Extension. Since that time, he created South Carolina’s Bradford Pear Bounty program for Bradford and Callery pear trees and leads the research into Asian long-horned beetles and Joro spiders. Examining everything from the biology of a species and its population dynamics to its spread rate and how it affects its surroundings, Coyle discovers how invasive species interact with their environment, asking questions such as do they displace or kill native species, and are they destructive or just a nuisance? His observations and experience create strategies for management or eradication, making tactics more efficient and easier or cheaper for residents and organizations.
Coyle’s background in forest and tree health and management, along with entomology, works together to address a broad range of invasive species, which include southern pine beetles, Mediterranean pine bark beetles, oak defoliators, cogongrass and kudzu, among many others. His research experience includes nearly every native and invasive pest and plant in the Southeast. In addition to partnering with the United State Department of Agriculture, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — a division of the USDA, state agencies and organizations around the region, he works with an international group on improving the phytosanitary aspects of solid wood packaging for global shipping to reduce the chance of invasive pests coming through a pallet or piece of dunnage.
Using webinars, workshops, collateral materials and social media to inform and educate residents, municipalities and entities, Coyle is passionate about providing information that can empower people to take a hands-on approach to invasive species management on their properties, cities and forests — whether they are homeowners, nature enthusiasts or professionals seeking certification or continuing education credentials in using pesticides, forest service or as arborists. He encourages the public to take an active role in invasive species management by documenting new or interesting discoveries at iNaturalist.
Coyle is a member of the Society of American Foresters and the Entomological Society of America, served on the board of directors and was president of the North American Invasive Species Management Association, and is a permanent member of the South Carolina Invasive Species Advisory Group. Before joining Clemson, he created and directed the Southern Forest Health and Invasive Species program, providing education and training to forestry professionals across all 13 Southeastern states. He still directs that program.