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Current Research

  • Enhancing Regional Decision Making for Invasive Grass Management – This project uses data-science approaches to assess regional relationships among invasive grass abundance and native species composition and diversity, as well as evaluating treatment-response patterns across a wide geography to identify consistencies and gaps among invasive grass treatment recommendations.


  • Assessing Mule Deer Habitat Use in Relation to Landscape-Scale Annual Grass Management – As a subset of a larger study, we are collecting GPS-locations for multiple mule deer fitted with GPS collars in Sheridan County and investigating whether their habitat use patterns change following control of invasive annual grasses ventenata and medusahead.


  • Developing ‘Smart’ Data Systems to Improve Invasive Plant Science and Management Decision Making at Landscape Scales- This long-term collaborative project will work to develop a ‘learning network’ focused on invasive plant ecology and management data relevant to the needs of Wyoming. Three facets of the program are data acquisition and aggregation, data privacy and stewardship, and user interfaces – all of which integrate to enhance Wyoming’s ability to continually refine our invasive weed management programs. Work will focus on invasive annual grasses in the early phase of this project, but once the framework is in place, expansion to other invasive weed species will occur. At the surface, this collaborative data system enhances collaboration and information for those managing invasive plants in Wyoming, but its greatest strength lies in what it provides from a landscape-scale research entity. With standardized data related to various ecological and economically-relevant variables collected from a spatially-distributed network across the state for multiple years, researchers will be able to answer questions we have never had the opportunity to answer outside small-scale, highly controlled studies.


  • To Graze or not to Graze…Evaluating Grazing Management Following Annual Grass Treatments –  This project tracks multi-year vegetation trends on multiple sites treated for ventenata control where grazing is either excluded or allowed to occur. Existing recommendations often suggest to defer grazing in an effort to improve perennial grass establishment and recovery, but little empirical data exists to support or refute this practice. This project will provide initial data to answer the question of whether grazing deferment benefits rangeland recovery following chemical control of ventenata.


  • Enhancing Seeding Recommendations for Annual Grass Management with Indaziflam – Indaziflam, a root-growth inhibiting herbicide, is quickly becoming a preferred tool for annual grass management in rangelands. Its ability to inhibit root growth in the upper soil profile makes it an effective tool for managing annual grasses, but it also has the ability to reduce establishment of desirable species in areas where reseeding is necessary. This project seeks to better understand how to integrate this effective management tool with appropriate plant materials, seeding depths, and seeding times.


  • Selecting Desirable Native Plant Materials to Increase Success of Restoration Projects Affected by Invasive Grasses – This project builds on previous research searching long-standing invasive plant populations, collecting residual native plants within those infestations, and evaluating the relative competitive abilities of residual natives against ‘naïve’ genotypes that have never faced competition/altered site conditions from invasives. Earliest work focused on natural selection within weed patches, new work seeks to enhance this selection through plant breeding approaches including selection for specific traits that may enhance competitive ability and naturally-occurring tolerance to weed management practices.


  • Invasive Annual Grass Treatment Monitoring Network – Building on the Smart Data Systems project, the Monitoring Network provides support to ongoing and planned annual grass management projects around Wyoming. Teams of trained student technicians gain valuable field experience while collecting rapid assessment data on vegetation attributes on sites where annual grass control projects are planned or have been implemented. These data sets provide feedback to managers on efficacy of their specific treatments and also provide multiple observations across a landscape to inform the Smart Data Systems network for annual grass management.


  • Evaluating Control Options for Annual Grasses – In partnership with multiple entities, we consistently compare new potential options (herbicides, biopesticides, soil amendments) to existing standards for their efficacy on annual grass control and effects to non-target vegetation. These evaluations compare application timings, rates, and site conditions to enhance our ability to make consistent recommendations to land managers.


  • Current and Future Potential Impacts of Selected Invasive Weeds to Wyoming’s Economy (pilot study) – The Guiding Principles Committee of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council requested an economic impacts analysis from University of Wyoming partners partially in response to the Governor’s Invasive Species Report. We will use the funds to conduct a preliminary economic impact analysis for ten weed species in Wyoming – including estimated impacts of current invasion and potential future invasion for those ten species based on habitat suitability models currently available or to be developed as part of the project.


  • Developing Carbon Assay Protocol- Effective invasive annual grass management requires the depletion of the seed bank following herbicide treatments. This project will result in a protocol for a carbon assay to analyze the soil seed bank in indaziflam treated sites.

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