Abstract

Yellow starthistle is an invasive plant species that reduces productivity and plant diversity within the canyon grasslands of Idaho. Early detection of yellow starthistle and predicting its spread have important managerial implications that could greatly reduce the economic/environmental losses due to this weed. The spread of an invasive plant species depends on its ability to reproduce and disperse seed into new areas. Typically, information on the factors that directly affect a plant’s ability to reproduce and subsequently disperse seed is not available or difficult to obtain. Alternatively, topographic factors, such as slope and aspect as well as competitive correlates such as vegetation indices related to plant community biomass could be used to model plant survival and seed movement. In this research, several spatial network models incorporating these variables were considered for the prediction of yellow starthistle dispersal. Models will differed in their assessment of plant movement costs, which can be separated into two processes, survival to reproduction and seed dispersal. The candidate models were evaluated based on their predictive ability and biological relevance. Topographical variables, slope and aspect, were found to be significant contributors to yellow starthistle dispersal models, whereas vegetation indices did not improve the prediction process. The optimal model was applied to an area in central Idaho for predicting the dispersal of yellow starthistle in 1987 given a known 1981 infestation.

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Apr 30th, 12:00 PM

MODELING DISPERSAL OF YELLOW STARTHISTLE IN THE CANYON GRASSLANDS OF NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO

Yellow starthistle is an invasive plant species that reduces productivity and plant diversity within the canyon grasslands of Idaho. Early detection of yellow starthistle and predicting its spread have important managerial implications that could greatly reduce the economic/environmental losses due to this weed. The spread of an invasive plant species depends on its ability to reproduce and disperse seed into new areas. Typically, information on the factors that directly affect a plant’s ability to reproduce and subsequently disperse seed is not available or difficult to obtain. Alternatively, topographic factors, such as slope and aspect as well as competitive correlates such as vegetation indices related to plant community biomass could be used to model plant survival and seed movement. In this research, several spatial network models incorporating these variables were considered for the prediction of yellow starthistle dispersal. Models will differed in their assessment of plant movement costs, which can be separated into two processes, survival to reproduction and seed dispersal. The candidate models were evaluated based on their predictive ability and biological relevance. Topographical variables, slope and aspect, were found to be significant contributors to yellow starthistle dispersal models, whereas vegetation indices did not improve the prediction process. The optimal model was applied to an area in central Idaho for predicting the dispersal of yellow starthistle in 1987 given a known 1981 infestation.