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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Northern PlainFacts.

Issue: September/October 2009

The Northern PlainFacts electronic newsletter offers brief updates on research, personnel, and events from both the Agricultural Systems Research Unit and Pest Management Research Unit at NPARL, and includes contact names and information for those interested in further details. 

In This Month's Issue:


ARS scientist invited to speak at Colorado State University 
ARS botanist speaks at Regional W-2185 Biological Control Conference 

Montana ARS Lab Hosts Annual E-cycling Event  

ARS scientist invited to speak at Colorado State University
NPARL Research Ecologist Erin Espeland was an invited speaker at Colorado State University in Fort Collins at a departmental seminar series on October 28. Dr. Espeland's presentation to the entomology, plant pathology and weed science departments regarded conserving adaptive capacity in plant populations. The presentation benefited ARS in two ways: It increases awareness of the agency on important conservation problems and; it encouraged others to work on similar problems, which boosted the value of this research. Espeland is a member of NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit.
(Erin Espeland, 406.433.9416,

ARS botanist speaks at Regional W-2185 Biological Control Conference
NPARL Research Botanist John Gaskin spoke at the W2185 Biological Control in Pest Management Systems of Plants conference held October 7-9, 2009 at Lake Tahoe, CA. Dr. Gaskin's presentation, entitled "Genetic Diversity and Distribution of Rush Skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea L.) on Three Invaded Continents" discusses the use of DNA analysis to identify seven distinct genotypes of the weed in North America, and their correlation to earlier biotypes identified using morphology, phenology, resistance and geographical distribution. The more precise AFLP genotyping can assist in determining exact matches between invasive and native genotypes, potentially assisting in discovery of highly host-specific biological control agents for currently resistant genotypes. AFLP data also allows for more accurate comparisons between invasions on different continents, and indicates which biocontrol agents, depending on their host specificity, should be used in various geographical areas. Dr. Gaskin, who also heads up NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit, was among 18 presenters at the two-day session. The W-2185 is a regional program in biological control that includes participants from the Western states and territories, including scientists with the state Experiment stations, USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, USFS, and state departments of agriculture. Participants benefit from shared information and projects on controlling new and existing pest species and identifying emerging threats, many of which have ranges over multiple states. The W-2185 program was instituted to address the increasingly important role biological control plays in integrated pest management (IPM) programs as broad-spectrum pesticide use continues to decline and organic commodity production increases.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444,



Montana ARS Lab Hosts Annual E-cycling Event

For the fifth year in a row, the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT hosted the community's annual "E-rase your E-waste" recycling event Sept. 11-12th in the lab's parking lot. This year, more than 19,700 pounds of e-waste was collected, the second highest total since the program began in this rural Montana community in 2005. NPARL Occupational Health and Safety Officer Jackie Couture, who initiated the first "E-rase your E-Waste" in her role as chair of the Richland County Local Emergency Planning Committee, was again co-chair of this year's collection, and Sidney ARS was among the co-organizers along with the Richland County LEPC, Richland Opportunities, Inc., and the local Richland County Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. This year's event also received significant financial support from several area businesses and government entities, who contributed matching funds to help reduce costs for participating individuals and businesses. The event also received promotional support from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, which has adopted the group's slogan and logo for use in their own statewide e-cycling program. In addition to the nearly 10 tons of obsolete electronics collected for recycling at Sidney, MT, neighboring Williston, ND also collected an additional 15,000 plus pounds at their companion event, to bring the final tally to more than 17 tons for 2009. For the past three years the two cross-border communities have shared a weekend; an e-cycler, and promotional efforts for the annual recycling collection.


(Jackie Couture, 406.433.9422,

(Beth Redlin, 406.433.9427,





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