Studies on the biology, ecology, and management of invasive weed species in New York
CALS Impact Statement
This project is focused on studies of the ecology, biology, and management of key invasive weed species in New York state. The species selected were Japanese knotweed (Polygonum spp.), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and black and/or pale swallow-wort spp. (Vincetoxicum spp.). These species are key invaders of natural areas, agronomic or horticultural cropping systems, and New York roadsides. Currently, little information is available about the reproductive success, genetic diversity, or allelopathic potential of these species across New York state. We are currently investigating each of these topics with the goal of developing more effective management strategies for each of these invasives. We are working in collaboration with the New York Farm Viability program, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association, the New York State Invasive Plant Council (NYSIPC), and the Nature Conservancy of New York State to accomplish these objectives.
Several issues prompted us to begin this work related to the ecology and biology of invasive weedy species in New York state. First, mugwort is cited as the foremost perennial weed management problem facing the nursery and landscape industry in upstate New York. Japanese knotweed and black and pale swallow-worts are cited by the Nature Conservancy, NYSIPC, and NYSDOT as key species for which effective management strategies must be developed to limit their spread across upstate and downstate New York. Management of all species currently requires large inputs of time and money, and control is limited, at best. Having greater knowledge of the biology and ecology of these species in New York state will enable us to develop key information related to their reproduction and spread and their ability to become invasive in certain environments. In addition, this information will assist us in developing more effective biological, chemical, and cultural management strategies for eradication of these species across New York state. Landscape and roadside managers, producers, and homeowners are all interested stakeholders who would like to limit the spread of these noxious weeds, and all have significant inputs of time and money dedicated to their management. Effective strategies for long-term management would enable these stakeholders to produce crops more profitably, maintain landscapes with fewer resource inputs, and preserve biodiversity in natural settings.
The laboratories of A. DiTommaso and L. A. Weston have focused on studies related to the biology and ecology of mugwort, black and pale swallow-wort species, and Japanese knotweed across New York state. We have studied the reproductive success, spread, growth habit and phytochemistry of each of these species under laboratory and field conditions and are currently working to develop effective weed management strategies for use in landscape, roadside, nursery, and natural areas. We are currently using SRAP (sequence-related amplified polymorphism) molecular markers to assess genetic diversity within and between related species and populations. We have determined that mugwort, Japanese knotweed adn the swallow-worts all produce allelochemicals which can significantly impact invasive success and rhizosphere ecology around established weeds. We have identified some of these allelochemicals. In addition, we have determined that mugwort and Japanese knotweed populations across New York State exhibit considerable genotypic as well as phenotypic diversity which may also impact invasive and reproductive success. Target audiences include New York state agronomic and horticultural producers, landscape and roadside managers, Nature Conservancy officials and state agencies, and homeowners and extension educators. Information on the biology, reproduction, and management of each species has been developed and disseminated in the form of presentations, slide sets, e-mails, fact sheets and websites designed for specific audiences.
This work will lead to the development of special local needs labels for the use of new chemical strategies for managing mugwort and, hopefully, Japanese knotweed. In addition, we are developing additional cultural management recommendations designed to limit the spread of these species over time. By developing additional cost-effective management strategies, we hope to limit the spread of these species and reduce the time and money directed toward management and control. By understanding more about the ecology and biology of each species as well as genotypic diversity existing within designated populations, we can potentially assess and develop biocontrol strategies for several of these weeds where effective chemical and cultural controls have been lacking. We are also developing new and effective collaborations with stakeholders, including extension educators, NYSDOT, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Nature Conservancy. In addition, numerous grower groups and stakeholders are very interested in receiving continually updated information about the spread and management of these weeds and other noxious invaders.
Invasive weed ecology and biology
funding source description
New York State Department of Transportation
Antonio DiTommaso (Department of Crop and Soil Sciences)
Lindsay Milbraith (Research Scientist, USDA ARS in Ithaca NY)