Early detection rapid response technique applicable beyond state borders
University of Wyoming Extension Specialist of Invasive Plant Ecology Dan Tekiela explained that effective early detection, rapid response (EDRR) involves detection, integrative management and restoration actions.
When thinking about the concept of EDRR, Tekiela noted that many people envision a border around the state and when something, such as Medusahead, crosses the border, it’s an EDRR situation.
“That certainly is EDRR,” he commented. “Alternatively, what if we had Medusahead at one specific location in the state and it moves a significant distance?”
Tekiela commented that most people would not consider that movement to be an EDRR situation, but that the strategy is still useful to implement.
“We should be treating it as EDRR just like we would if it had crossed the border from Montana,” he stressed.
According to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, EDRR is defined as action that “increases the likelihood that localized invasive populations will be found.”
Tekiela continued, “We’re talking about that EDRR focuses on populations, not species present in the state as a whole.”
“Another big idea I want to get across is, when we think of management, we’re trying to remove the plant, but when we remove that plant, by nature, we are causing a disturbance,” commented Tekiela.
He noted that most studies suggest that invasive species are benefited by a greater amount of disturbance.
“When we go out there and we’re spraying, we’re causing a disturbance, so it’s trying to find this real fine balance between removing that invader but not causing so much disturbance that we just have new invaders come in,” explained Tekiela.
According to Tekiela, not all management strategies are created equal and should be carefully matched to the circumstance.
“From what we’ve said, it could be summarized, if management equals disturbance and disturbance equals invasion, then management equals invasion,” he said. “That seems ridiculous, and we know that management is important, but there are studies that show the types of management that we choose have an impact.”
“The idea of integrative management is just trying to diversify the types of impacts we impose in that system in a lot of ways, so we’re not impacting very aggressively in one particular way,” explained Tekiela.
An example study that he discussed utilized both grazing and chemical control to more effectively manage Dalmatian toadflax.
“We went out and charted the toadflax cover, cheatgrass cover and perennial grass cover,” Tekiela said.
Based on the project’s timing, most of the other plants were dormant when sheep were moved in to graze, which made Dalmation toadflax more desirable.
“This is one case where we may be able to utilize a timing with the grazing to only get at the species that we care about,” continued Tekiela.
According to Tekiela, the ideas of restoration and management go hand-in-hand.
“We manage in hopes of restoring the area to its native ecosystem,” he explained.
Tekiela continued, “I think a good example of restoration comes from an example where we have 100 percent cheatgrass cover. If we go in and spray it, we make bare ground, and then, if we don’t do anything else, we’ve actually got more cheatgrass and haven’t done anything from a restoration standpoint.”
A strategy that some managers use is to plant a competitive perennial to limit the return of cheatgrass.
“One of the measures that some use is something like planting crested wheatgrass that’s competitive and tends to be better forage, but it’s also not going to be a diverse community, so it shouldn’t be an end for restoration,” he commented.
Tekiela gave an example of a project by Wyoming Game and Fish Department where restoration of land historically dominated by cheatgrass is a priority.
Initially, the cheatgrass was sprayed and then replaced with crested wheatgrass.
“Now, there’s more interest in how to build that diverse community,” said Tekiela. “How can we go from something like crested wheatgrass into a diverse community?”
He noted that it can be beneficial to have an intermediate community, where an assisted succession strategy is used.
“We’re potentially reducing that seed bank because they can’t reproduce in that area, then we can potentially come in with something else that’s more beneficial to the native community,” continued Tekiela.
He concluded, “Some of the benefits of using an intermediate community include potentially reducing herbicide usage and reducing soil erosion. Intermediate communities do all of those things, from a restoration standpoint, that we think of as beneficial.”
Tekiela spoke during the 2016 Wyoming Weed and Pest Council Conference.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.