Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rural road maintenance may accidentally push spread of invasive plants

Date:
August 15, 2011
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Road maintenance may accidentally spread the seeds of invasive plants, according to new research.

Road maintenance may accidentally spread the seeds of invasice plants, according to Penn State researchers.

"The road graders that are used during these operations can act like a plow, pushing seeds along the road," said Emily Rauschert, senior project associate and applied ecologist in crop and soil sciences. "They can pick up seeds of an invasive grass and spread them several orders of magnitude further than the natural dispersal."

The researchers created a computer simulation based on field experiments that showed how road regrading in the spring could play a role in the rapid spread of Japanese stilt grass -- an invasive plant that can grow up to five feet tall -- in the Rothrock State Forest area. The plant is considered a threat because its dense growth can prevent trees and native plants from growing.

"Initially, this plant wasn't present locally," Rauschert said. "But within ten years or so foresters noticed that the plant had spread throughout the area."

The quick spread of Japanese stilt grass in the forest perplexed researchers because experiments had shown that on its own, the plant spread only a few feet each year. The researchers collaborated with the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies at Penn State to understand what was causing the rapid spread of the plant.

To test how road maintenance work may spread seeds, the researchers placed fluorescent-painted seeds along roads before normal grading operations. Because the researchers were wary of introducing any more ecological damage into the park, they did not use the Japanese stilt grass seed but seed with a similar size and shape. As an added precaution, they cooked the seeds prior to the experiment to lessen the chances that the seeds would germinate.

Once the road grading work was finished, the researchers, who presented their computer simulation on August 9 at the 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Austin, Texas, recorded the new location of the seeds. They recovered more than 11,000 seeds over two years.

Most of the seeds were found within 50 meters of the original location, but a small percentage were recovered more than 250 meters from where they were released.

Rauschert, who worked with David Mortensen, professor of weed ecology, said that although only a small percentage of the seeds were spread long distances, they are important to understanding the spread of invasive plants. These seeds can create new pockets of growth far from the original plant that can then serve as a launching point for continued spread.

"The seeds that end up moving long distances are key," Rauschert said. "They are the drivers of this rapid growth of an invasive species."

Limiting the spread of seeds is the most cost-effective way for management, rather than chemical or mechanical options, Rauschert said.

For example, road crews could take shorter grading sweeps that would limit the chance of the long-range spread of seeds. Officials could also create buffer zones in natural sensitive areas where grading operations are limited.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Rural road maintenance may accidentally push spread of invasive plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809144513.htm>.
Penn State. (2011, August 15). Rural road maintenance may accidentally push spread of invasive plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809144513.htm
Penn State. "Rural road maintenance may accidentally push spread of invasive plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110809144513.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins