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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of a Decision-Support System for the Ecologically-Based Management of Cheatgrass and Medusahead-Infested Rangeland

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Develop a new biological control tool to reduce the species performance of cheatgrass and medusahead on rangelands. (Component III, Protection of Natural Ecosystems Problem Statement IIIB, Terrestrial, Aquatic, and Wetland Weeds.) Objective 2: Working with cheatgrass and medusahead, develop new ecological principles that contribute to the basis of EBIPM by investigating the potential interactions among management approach selection, site availability, species availability, and species performance during restoration of cheatgrass and medusahead-dominated rangeland. (Component III, Protection of Natural Ecosystems Problem Statement IIIB, Terrestrial, Aquatic, and Wetland Weeds.) Objective 3: Validate the improved EBIPM framework for use in cheatgrass and medusahead-dominated or threatened ecosystems. (Component III, Protection of Natural Ecosystems Problem Statement IIIB, Terrestrial, Aquatic, and Wetland Weeds)


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
This research will build upon existing efforts to develop ecologically-based invasive weed management strategies. This research will test ecological theories that have potential to become principles that guide invasive plant management and develop those principles into methods for managing weeds. Part of this effort will focus on understanding the key species and grazing strategies that minimize medusahead invasion. Since herbicides are one of the few effective tools for medusahead, this research will attempt to define ecological and economic thresholds for applying them. Finally, the studies will test two novel approaches to restoring medusahead infested rangeland using current ecological theory to guide the implementation. Decision-support tools will be researched and developed to assist land managers in applying existing and new knowledge associated with medusahead in the Great Basin and Columbia Plateau.


3.Progress Report:
The progress of this project remains in the early stages and has included applying treatments and collecting data. Experiments have been initiated in five states including Oregon, Utah, Idaho, California, and Nevada. This fall, 15 experiments will be seeded with desired plant species and weather stations will be installed. Data continues to be collected on interactions among management practices during restoration of cheatgrass and medusahead-dominated rangeland experiments. Data collection will continue and manuscripts will be drafted in the next fiscal year.


Review Publications
Goodwin, K., Sheley, R.L., Jacobs, J., Wood, S., Manoukian, M., Schuldt, M., Miller, E., Sackman, S. 2012. Cooperative prevention systems to protect rangelands from the spread of invasive plants. Rangelands. 34(1):26-31.

Sheley, R.L., James, J.J., Vasquez, E.A., Svejcar, A.J. 2011. Using rangeland health assessment to inform successional management. Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management. 4(3):356-366.

Leffler, A.J., Monaco, T.A., James, J.J. 2011. Nitrogen acquisition by annual and perennial grass seedlings: testing the roles of performance and plasticity to explain plant invasion. Plant Ecology. DOI: 10.1007/s11258-011-933-z.

Rinella, M.J., Mangold, J.M., Espeland, E.K., Sheley, R.L., Jacobs, J. 2012. Long-term population dynamics of seeded plants in invaded grasslands. Ecological Applications 22(4):1320-1329.

Drenovsky, R.E., Grewell, B.J., D'Antonio, C.M., Funk, J.L., James, J.J., Molinari, N., Parker, I.M., Richards, C.L. 2012. A functional trait perspective on plant invasion. Annals Of Botany. 110:141-153.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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