Survey, Monitoring and Predicting the Occurrence and Spread of Native and Non-Native Plant Species at Idaho National Laboratories

Survey, Monitoring and Predicting the Occurrence and Spread of Native and Non-Native Plant Species at Idaho National Laboratories


Investigators and Affiliations

  • Lisa Rew, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • Bruce Maxwell, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • Matt Lavin, Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • Tyler Brummer, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • Kimberley Taylor, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana

Funding Sources

U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office


Background: Management of both non-indigenous plant species (NIS) and rare plant species (RPS) is a high priority in many managed forests, wildlands and rangeland areas. However, rarely do either public or private agencies have sufficient resources to manage all NIS or conserve all RPS. Neither do agencies have sufficient information on the potential impacts of future anthropogenic development. Therefore, a better understanding of the temporal and spatial processes which drive both NIS and RPS population distributions and dynamics is required to improve management effectiveness and efficiency. The difficulty in increasing our knowledge of NIS and RPS population dynamics in the sagebrush-steppe plant community is that they occur with low frequency on the landscape and can be difficult to detect because they are similar in morphology to the co-occurring species. By using knowledge of probable routes of introduction for the NIS, and particular habitat requirements for the RPS, appropriate survey methods can be developed. Repeated sampling can then help to elucidate the spatiotemporal dynamics of select populations. From such data, predictive occurrence maps can be generated for the current landscape, but also for a range of future scenarios including anthropogenic development. Incorporating the information into a decision support management prioritization framework can help resource managers prioritize populations to manage and help evaluate the potential impacts of different disturbance scenarios to minimize the negative (RPS) or positive (NIS) impacts on plant population dynamics.

Objectives: The goal of this study was to determine the current distribution of NIS and RPS on the INL Site and predict the potential spatial and temporal metapopulation dynamics of these species to help inform management and future development decisions.

Accomplishments through 2012: Survey detection error and metapopulation dynamics: A total of 33 ten-meter-wide belt transects that originated on roads or facility margins and traveled two km away from the road or facility were selected for survey in 2012, to evaluate extinction and colonization rates. Transects were repeats from previous years and selected according to stratification on fire chronology and proximity to facilities. Presence and absence of eight targeted NIS were recorded along these transects in two 200 m sections. The 200 m sections were randomly located, one within 0-1000 m and the other 1001-2000 m from the road.

To assess the role of fire on the availability of seed for colonization we collected soil samples at approximately 40 locations along the fire chronology. The soil samples were potted in a glass house and individuals are being counted and identified as they germinate.

Results: Survey detection error and metapopulation dynamics: We now have three seasons of extinction/colonization data (2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012). Data analysis and model summarization of these rates are being completed for the eight targeted NIS – Agropyron cristatum, Alyssum desertorum, Bromus tectorum, Carduus nutans, Descurainia sophia, Halogeton glomeratus, Lepidium perfoliatum, and Sisymbrium altissimum. We are aiming to define the relative importance of propagule pressure/isolation, habitat quality, disturbance (wildfire) and inter-annual climate variability on colonization and extinction dynamics of these species. Seedlings germinating from the seed bank samples are still being assessed.

Plans for Continuation: Data analysis, interpretation and finalization and revision of manuscripts is on-going.

Publications, Theses, Reports:
Publications:

  • Brummer, T. J. (2012) Non-native species distributions in space and time: integrating ecological theory and predictive modeling. Master’s thesis, Montana State University.

  • Lavin, M., T. Brummer, T. Seipel, B. Maxwell, and L. Rew. (in press) The intermountain flora sets the stage for a community phylogenetic analysis of plant biodiversity in the sagebrush steppe of western North America. Brittonia. (Accepted Dec. 2012)

  • Brummer, T., B. Maxwell, M. Higgs, and L. Rew. (in press) Surveying non-native species occurrence and modeling realized distributions at local and landscape scales. Diversity and Distributions. (Accepted Jan 2013).

  • Lavin, M., T. Brummer T, R. Quire, B. Maxwell, and L. Rew. Physical disturbance shapes vascular plant diversity more profoundly that fire in the sagebrush steppe of southeastern Idaho, USA. Ecology and Evolution. (Submitted Feb 2013)

  • Brummer, T., B. Maxwell, S. Lele, and L. Rew. Detection error in plant surveys: to correct or not to correct. Under substantial revision – will be resubmitted late winter 2013.

  • Taylor, K., T. Brummer, B. Maxwell, M. Lavin, and L. Rew. Assessing the effect of fire sequence on Bromus tectorum abundance. In Preparation.

  • Brummer, T., Maxwell, B., M. Lavin, and L. Rew. Regional population dynamics of non-native plant species. Early preparation and analysis not yet complete.

Presentations:
  • Rew, L., P. Lawrence, B. Maxwell, T. Brummer, and F. Pollnac. 2013. Prioritizing weed populations for management using your own data. Montana Weed Control Association, January 16-17th 2013, Great Falls, MT. [Invited]

  • Rew, L. 2012. Mapping, surveying and prioritizing weed management. Noxious Weed Management Certification Workshop. October 2-4th 2012, Bozeman, Montana. [Invited] /li>
  • Rew, L. 2012. Mapping, surveying and prioritizing weed management. Noxious Weed Management Certification Workshop. April 3-5th 2012, Bozeman, Montana. [Invited]/li>
  • Rew, L. 2012. Predictive weed maps. South Dakota Weed and Pest Conference. February 23- 24th, 2012 Rapid City, South Dakota. ~210 [Invited]