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Russian knapweed restoration seeding trials

Project #: 508340  –   Updated: December 19, 2016

Project Summary

Located in Grand County, Utah the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa is located along the red rock country of the Dolores River. It is owned and managed by the University of Utah. The project site has abandoned agricultural fields that by 2013 had become invaded with Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens), which has outcompeted much of the native vegetation at the site. In 2013, funding from the USFWS Partners for Wildlife program and the University was used to treat and restore the knapweed site (about 42 acres of riparian and upland habitat). They hired a contractor to carry out herbicide ...

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Location (by county):
Grand County (UT)

Watersheds:
Lower Dolores

Congressional Districts:
UT District 03

Bird Conservation Regions:
Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau

USFWS Regions:
Mountain Prairie Region

Project size:
11.87 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Site 1 No

Full Project Description

Located in Grand County, Utah the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa is located along the red rock country of the Dolores River. It is owned and managed by the University of Utah. The project site has abandoned agricultural fields that by 2013 had become invaded with Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens), which has outcompeted much of the native vegetation at the site. In 2013, funding from the USFWS Partners for Wildlife program and the University was used to treat and restore the knapweed site (about 42 acres of riparian and upland habitat). They hired a contractor to carry out herbicide application and seeding, using native, commercially available seeds in 2013. The size of the site that was treated is about 42 acres of riparian and upland habitat. We took advantage of the opportunity to incorporate an experimental approach to this restoration, and tested how the use of different native plant materials can impact the long-term outcomes of the restoration. Very little is known about which native species are most appropriate for post-knapweed restoration work like this, but most of the published literature is focused on 3-5 non-native species. Building on research that has shown evolution of native species in knapweed-infested habitat and better suppression of invasive species when a diverse mix of species (including forbs) is sown into the restoration site, we expect that post-knapweed seeding will be most effective if it contains a diverse mix of native species and seed sources that are suited for the restoration site. Our research goal was to test which native plant materials (species, sources, and mixes of species/seed sources) are most effective at long-term suppression of knapweed following herbicide treatment.

Goals and Targets

Primary goals:

The projects collected in this database contain summaries and conclusions from a wide variety of papers regarding restoration research relevant to the Colorado Plateau. Using the conservationregistry.org search engine, search for a particular species (i.e. Atriplex canescens, fourwing saltbush), type of study (i.e. common garden, reciprocal transplant) or keyword (i.e. ecotype, grazing) in order to view the citations, summaries and conclusions of relevant papers.

Targeted habitats:

    • Shrublands and Grasslands
      • Shrublands and Steppe
    • Special Types
      • Cliff and Canyon

Targeted species:

  • Bottlebrush Squirrel-tail Elymus elymoides
  • Needle-and-Thread Hesperostipa comata
  • Great Basin Lyme Grass Leymus cinereus
  • Blue Gramma Bouteloua gracilis
  • Indian Mountain-ricegrass Achnatherum hymenoides
  • James' Galleta Pleuraphis jamesii
  • Streamside Wild Rye Elymus lanceolatus
  • Alkali Sacaton Sporobolus airoides
  • Sand Dropseed Sporobolus cryptandrus
  • Russian Knapweed Acroptilon repens

Actions

Project Actions
Control invasive plants Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

Monitored every year or two, with plans to continue

What lessons have been learned and/or what suggestions do you have for similar activities?

Two years post-treatment, there was less cover of the target invasive species (Russian knapweed) in the seeded treatments than the unseeded treatments, and no significant difference between the herbicided and unherbicided treatments. The local seed mix tended to have lower cover of knapweed than the standard seed mix, but this was not a significant difference. However, it is interesting to consider potential causes of the seeding effects – while there was again no significant difference between the standard and local mix treatments in measures of native or non-native cover, the standard seed mix plots tended to have greater percent cover than local plots. This suggests that belowground processes may be impacting the cover of knapweed more than aboveground processes, and warrants further investigation.

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Organization

Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP)
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Andrea Kramer
Chicago Botanic Garden
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Partners

  • Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa

Project Photos

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