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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Research Project #432544

Research Project: Biological Control and Community Restoration Strategies for Invasive Weed Control in the Northern Great Plains Rangelands

Location: Pest Management Research

Project Number: 3032-21220-002-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 15, 2017
End Date: Dec 16, 2020

Objective 1: Identify and bridge critical knowledge gaps in the taxonomy, native origin, population structure, and reproductive strategies of key invasive weeds, as necessary to support the successful development of classical biological control programs. [NP304, Component 1, Problem Statements 1A, 1B, and 1C; Component 2, Problem Statement 2B2] Subobjective 1.A: Determine the correct taxonomy and extent of hybridization of invasive weeds. Subobjective 1.B: Determine the origins, population structure and reproductive mode of invasive weeds. Objective 2: Develop novel, effective biological weed control and rangeland restoration methods that synergize ecological interactions, such as herbivory, weed population heterogeneity, invasion-dynamics, competition between weeds and native vegetation, and plant-soil interactions. [NP304, Component 2, Problem Statements 2B2, 2B3 and 2B4] Subobjective 2.A: Understand insect community composition and assembly in response to restoration and prior to the release of Russian olive biological control. Subobjective 2.B: Determine plant population, community and soil characteristics that contribute to the control of invasions.

Weeds in pastures and croplands in the U.S. result in billions of dollars per year in lost production and control costs. The goal of our project is to decrease weed abundance by increasing the efficacy of biological control agent development and improving the establishment success of plant community restorations that resist invasion. Our team’s research spans multiple aspects of weed control, from the taxonomy required for effective development of weed management strategies, demographic and ecological research to optimize biological control management efficacy, and identification of the inputs required in restoration that support productive invasion-resistant landscapes. We will address critical gaps in genotype-specific information regarding the reproductive strategies, origin and invasiveness of some of the most important invasive weeds in the U.S., thus guiding effective control methods including effective biological control agents. We will identify ecological, demographic, and biological factors limiting invasion potential for weeds with different life histories. This will generate strategies that limit the spread of target weeds and provide a general framework of biologically- and ecologically-based weed control methods. We will also create realistic targets for restoration that benefit landscapes. This work develops science-based, economical weed management that reduces costs, promotes food security and minimizes negative environmental impacts of weed control. We focus on rangeland weeds in the Northern Great Plains and extend this research nationally across a range of habitats. By communicating our results through on-going relationships with land management agencies, farmers and ranchers, academic societies, industry and state extension services, this research supports innovative strategies vital to the sustainability and health of U.S. agroecosystems.