Research in our lab focuses on integrating tools (e.g., prevention; chemical, mechanical, and biological control; prescribed fire; revegetation) to manage invasive plants on rangeland in Montana.  We aim to find ecologically-based, economically viable means to control invasive plants while maintaining or restoring desirable vegetation that meets management objectives.

Research: in progress

people sampling annual grass cover on a hillside along a transect

A comprehensive look at invasive annual grasses

Collaborators: Lisa Rew (MSU) and Kate Fuller (MSU)

We are examining how four invasive annual grasses (cheatgrass, Japense brome, Ventenata, and medusahead) are impacting our economy, forage quality, and rangeland biodiversity. We sampled at a total of 13 sites across Montana in 2017 and will be researching litter decomposition and litter effects on germination from 2017 to 2018.

field showing drill rows of bluebunch wheatgrass seedlings

Optimal seeding date and preparation for planting perennial grass into weedy areas

Collaborator: Zach Miller (MSU). Graduate student: Michelle Majeski

Planting date of desired grasses can influence competition with weeds and ultimate success of restoration/revegetation planting. This project will identify optimal timing of grass seeding when revegetating weed-infested range and pasture lands. The project will also evaluate if timing of weed management influences optimal seeding time/conditions.

stand of crested wheatgrass plants in August

Renovation of exotic cool-season grasses to functional native grasslands

Collaborators: USDA ARS (Sidney), Northern ARC (Havre), MPG Ranch (Missoula). Graduate student: Peter Bugoni

The goal of this project is to develop technologies that successfully renovate monotypic stands of nonindigenous cool season grasses including crested wheatgrass (A. cristatum) and smooth brome (B. inermis) to diverse native plantings that support livestock, wildlife, pollinators, prevent erosion and are resistant to future weed encroachment. Ultimately these protocols can be applied by private landowners and public land managers in the restoration of native grasslands.

person standing in plot area with bluebunch wheatgrass growing in a fallow crop field

Mitigating priority effects of invasive plants during revegetation by altering perennial grass planting date

Bozeman, MT. Graduate student: Audrey Harvey

Modifying seeding date may be one ecologically-based management tool to increase establishment of seeded species by giving them an initial size advantage over weedy species that emerge later. This project is exploring how timing of planting of desirable perennial grasses (bluebunch wheatgrass) might overcome the priority effects of seedlings of the invasive plants spotted knapweed and cheatgrass. It is our hope that this research will improve efficacy of revegetation efforts on lands dominated by spotted knapweed and cheatgrass in Montana and other semi-arid regions. This project started fall 2015.

medusahead seed head in the palm of someone's hand

Monitoring a new invader: medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) in Sanders County

Sanders County

The presence of medusahead, an invasive annual grass, was confirmed in Montana for the first time in 2013. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, MSU researchers from the Mangold lab surveyed frequency of medusahead, along with other plant functional groups, at the confirmed site. This monitoring project will allow us to track the rate and spread of medusahead.

Research: completed

brown calf standing in grassland with mountains in background

Collaborators: Kate Fuller (MSU) and Matt Rinella (USDA-ARS)

crop field with rows of crop growing with yellow flowered weed growing in between

Management strategies for control of narrowleaf hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum)

Collaborators: Shelley Mills and Bobbie Roos (MSU Extension Agents)

Narrowleaf hawksbeard is not a state listed noxious weed, but it is becoming increasingly problematic in Montana cropland and CRP lands, especially in the northeastern part of the state. This study looked at herbicide and mowing management options at two sites in Daniels County and Valley County. Herbicides applied in the fall versus spring were less effective on narrowleaf hawskbeard but were less detrimental to desirable forbs. Optimal control of narrowleaf hawksbeard with herbicides used in the study may be achieved by application in the spring. Mowing alone is not recommended as a viable management option but may enchance control in combination with spring herbicides.

people sampling a revegetation site with mountains in background
(Copyright by the Ecological Society of America)