Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Restoring Native Grassland Populations in Pacific Northwest

This is a very interesting article that describes a six-year research project done on how to better control an invasive plant species in the interior Pacific Northwest.  The article is based on a paper that was published just this year in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management. This paper is relevant to our discussions of invasive plant species in lecture and focuses on how we can better control invasive species without harming the native species in the same area.
This particular paper is concerned with the invasive flowering plant Sulfur cinquefoil, which is threatening native grass species in the Pacific Northwest grasslands. Researchers wanted to know whether using herbicides at a specific time and in a specific way might reduce the mortality of native species and increase the mortality of invasive species. They were also interested in whether reseeding of native grasses would help the situation.
The researches found the most of the native grasses in the interior Pacific Northwest are dormant in late summer and early autumn. Using this knowledge and experimental control plots, they found that using herbicides during this time lead to increased mortality of Sulfur cinquefoil along with a recued mortality of native grasses. They also found that using herbicides just once was enough to control the invasive population during the entire six-year study. Finally, they found that although reseeding did not have an effect in the early years of the experiment, by the last couple years the plots that had been reseeded showed a 20% decrease in exotic grass cover.
In this case, the solution was a simple one and because we have seen in class that most cases are much more complicated, it is easy to dismiss it as a lucky break. However, it is imported to note that this simple change in the timing of herbicide use, made a dramatic difference in conserving a native species. This makes me wonder how many other little fixes in species conservation we are overlooking because we are so stuck on solving the big problems.

Here is a link to the article from ScienceDaily:

Here is a citation and link for the paper:
Bryan A. Endress, Catherine G. Parks, Bridgett J. Naylor, Steven R. Radosevich, Mark Porter. Grassland Response to Herbicides and Seeding of Native Grasses 6 Years Posttreatment. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2012; 5 (3): 311
- Megan Ragland

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