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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #315552

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

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Weed establishment and persistence after water pipeline installation and reclamation in the mixed grass prairie of western North Dakota

Author
item Espeland, Erin
item Perkins, Lora - South Dakota State University

Submitted to: Ecological Restoration
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2017
Publication Date: 12/1/2017
Citation: Espeland, E.K., Perkins, L. 2017. Weed establishment and persistence after water pipeline installation and reclamation in the mixed grass prairie of western North Dakota. Ecological Restoration. 35(4):305-310.

Interpretive Summary: Stable perennial grass communities dominate the landscape of western North Dakota. The combination of increasing human activity due to oilfield development and weed already present from historic agricultural activities may lead to greater incidence of non-native plant species in the prairie. In this study located on a ranch in western North Dakota, I documented the frequency of occurrence and local densities of twenty non-native plant taxa over four years. I began data collection when a water pipeline was installed at the property and monitored plots in the pipeline, in the adjacent intact prairie, and alongside a nearby gravel road. Annual grasses were the most abundant non-native taxon over all years of the study and were more prevalent in the prairie than any other site type. Eight taxa were present in the prairie at the start of the study and half of these became persistent in the pipeline. Two species colonized the pipeline from the road and one of these, an annual forb, was able to spread into the prairie. Of the seven species that entered the landscape through the pipeline, two were problematic: black henbane (a state-listed noxious weed) and crested wheatgrass. Neither species colonized the prairie plots over the course of the study. This study shows that most species introductions due to road activity, soil disturbance, and pipeline installation result in non-persistent populations of naturalized weeds. However, I also show that the pipeline installation resulted in the introduction of one noxious weed and created a persistent population of an undesirable species (crested wheatgrass) that may later colonize the surrounding prairie.

Technical Abstract: In the northern mixed grass prairie, the dominant native vegetation type is a stable perennial grass community. Increasing human activity in western North Dakota in combination with propagule availability from historic agricultural activity may lead to greater incidence of prairie colonization by non-native plant species. In this study located on a ranch in western North Dakota, I documented the frequency of occurrence and local densities of twenty non-native plant taxa over four years. I began data collection when a water pipeline was installed at the property and monitored randomly-located plots in the pipeline, in the adjacent intact prairie, and alongside a nearby gravel road. Despite ecological site descriptions that describe this region of the country as favoring perennial species over annuals, annual grasses were the most abundant non-native taxon over all years of the study and were more prevalent in the prairie than any other site type. Eight of the monitored taxa were present in the prairie at the start of the study and half of these became persistent in the pipeline. Two species colonized the pipeline from the road and one of these, an annual forb, was able to spread into the prairie. Of the seven species that entered the landscape through the pipeline, two were problematic: black henbane (a state-listed noxious weed) and crested wheatgrass. Neither species colonized the prairie plots over the course of the study. This study shows that most species introductions due to road activity, soil disturbance, and pipeline installation result in non-persistent populations of naturalized weeds. However, I also show that the pipeline installation resulted in the introduction of one noxious weed and created a persistent population of an undesirable species that may later colonize the surrounding prairie.