Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Noxious weed monitoring at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Ecologist Renee Rondeau mapping weeds on the U.S. Air Force Academy

The US Air Force Academy ("the Academy") near Colorado Springs has established management objectives for weed control in order to remain compliant with state and local noxious weed regulations. Noxious weeds threaten the viability of rare and imperiled native species by competing for resources and actually altering the structure and function of the ecosystems they invade. Once noxious weeds become established in an area, restoration efforts become increasingly difficult and expensive.

The Academy contracted with CNHP in 2002 to survey and map noxious weeds to inform the development of an integrated weed management plan. We have performed additional monitoring surveys since then to provide the Academy with an indication of the effectiveness of their management plan and how it should be adjusted over time.

Our latest report on our weed monitoring efforts at the Academy is now available and includes a summary of the results of the past five years of population monitoring of targeted noxious weeds at the Academy, emphasizing changes that were observed between 2008 and 2009. In addition to field surveys, we also used our data to model suitable habitat and predicted rate of spread of one of the monitored weeds- spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), an aggressive weed that has been spreading quickly- to give the Academy decision support tools to help manage this weed.

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) suitable habitat probability (top) and predicted spread over time (bottom) at the Academy.  Analyses by Karin Decker and Michelle Fink. Click on images for larger versions.

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