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Research Project: REDUCING THE IMPACT OF INVASIVE WEEDS IN NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS RANGELANDS THROUGH BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AND COMMUNITY RESTORATION

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Revegetation after Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.) removal along the Yellowstone River: a cost and 2-year success assessment

Author
item Espeland, Erin
item Petersen, Mark
item Muscha, Jennifer - Boyle
item Scianna, Joseph - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item Kilian, Robert - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2016
Publication Date: 8/1/2016
Citation: Espeland, E.K., Petersen, M.K., Muscha, J.M., Scianna, J., Kilian, R. 2016. Revegetation after Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.) removal along the Yellowstone River: a cost and 2-year success assessment. In: Schwarzländer, M., and J.H. Gaskin, Eds. 2014 Proceedings of the 3rd Northern Rockies Invasive Plants Council Conference, February 10-13, 2014. Airway Heights, WA. p. 13-22.

Interpretive Summary: Restoration can improve sites that have been degraded by weed invasion and prevent other weeds from invading because of competition from the planted natives. We removed Russian-olive trees from a 1.9 ha site along the Yellowstone River in 2011 and installed a controlled revegetation experiment in 2012. Russian olive resprout rates in the year of removal were 4%, but sapling kill was necessary in the two years following removal because of high seedling recruitment rates. Survival of transplanted native trees and shrubs was high (64%), even though the year in which we transplanted was one of the driest on record. Seeding resulted in increased numbers of desirable species, but cover was very low. Our restoration was planted into mostly bare ground because there was little understory vegetation prior to removal due to the heavy shading of Russian olive, and because our removal method of a tree shear on a skid steer created surface soil disturbance. Conversion of bare ground to a functional native plant community often takes many years.

Technical Abstract: Restoration can improve sites that have been degraded by weed invasion and prevent secondary invasion by pre-empting niche space away from these unwanted colonists. We removed Russian-olive trees from a 1.9 ha site along the Yellowstone River in 2011 and installed a controlled revegetation experiment in 2012. Russian olive resprout rates in the year of removal were 4%, but sapling kill was necessary in the two years following removal because seedling recruitment would have generated a 21% population replacement rate in the first year and 10% in the second year. Survival of transplanted native trees and shrubs was high (64%± 32 SD), even though the year in which we transplanted was one of the driest on record. Seeding the herbaceous layer also resulted in increased numbers of desirable species in the plots, but plant cover was very low. Our restoration was planted into mostly bare ground because there was little understory vegetation prior to removal due to the heavy shading of Russian olive and because our removal method of a tree shear on a skid steer created surface soil disturbance. Conversion of bare ground to a functional native plant community capable of resisting other plant invasions often takes many years.