Sen Lin, Fardin Khan, Tabitha Ramirez, Ryan Day

At first glance, invasive plant species simply seem like a nuisance to the environment, but is it possible that they hold benefits? Many invasion biologists are now realizing that not all invasive species impose threats, but instead provide benefits like a food source, medicine, and forensics. The analysis of plant material for forensics has been employed in many criminal investigations. With over 380,000 different species of plants in the world, each has its own unique pollen type which can help provide information on the location the pollen is from. Because invasive plant species have higher rates of vegetative reproduction, the spread of their plant material and pollen is consequently high as well. In this study, five invasive plant species were searched in the iNaturalist database and the number of observations each species had in each New York City borough was recorded. The origin and traits of these species were also recorded to show homology and relation in terms of location. In the results, certain species were only prevalent in certain boroughs. Because each plant has its own unique pollen print can effectively place a criminal suspect at a certain place and time of year. While there is potential for these results to aid in criminal investigation, one also has to consider the context of the investigation. If the body is dumped in a windy area or body of water then the pollen may simply wash off before being collected. However, invasive plant species can still be an integral part if other indicating factors fail in criminal investigations.

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