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Technology Transfer

Gerry Anderson & Jerry Bergman

Question 1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it?

Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) infests five million acres of land in 35 states and six Canadian provinces. This deep-rooted exotic weed invades grazing lands for cattle and horses, reduces rangeland productivity and plant diversity, threatens sensitive species, degrades wildlife habitat and wildlife-associated recreation, and reduces land values. Infestations in Montana, North Dakota and the Dakotas alone are estimated to cost agricultural producers and taxpayers $144 million a year in production losses and control expenses. Leafy spurge is a formidable opponent that cannot be eliminated nor controlled by any single entity or management method. A collaborative, area-wide program is essential to solving this weed problem. The Ecological, Area-wide Management (TEAM) - Leafy Spurge is developing and demonstrating effective, affordable and ecologically sustainable Integrated Pest Management strategies for state, federal and private land managers in the Little Missouri River drainage of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas.

Question 2. How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?

Leafy spurge is one of the toughest, most versatile rangeland weeds to ever invade the United States. The weed has doubled its acreage every 10 years since the early 1900s, and is now expanding its range beyond its foothold in the western U.S. The economic losses (outlined in Question #1) caused by leafy spurge can be expected to increase as the weed spreads, and are compounded by significant environmental "costs" as well. The problem revolves around several characteristics which give leafy spurge a distinct competitive advantage: A deep root system remains viable when on-the-ground control appears to have been achieved; early emergence in the spring gives it a head start on native plants and other vegetation; versatility and adaptability enables it to flourish in a wide variety of conditions; and it seemingly has the ability to mutate and establish different genotypes. Once established, it can quickly dominate a range and drastically reduce the production of desirable grasses and forbs; its impact on riparian areas and other lowlands, which are of extreme ecological importance in the semi-arid northern Great Plains, is particularly pronounced. Its threat to rare and endangered plants, such as the prairie fringed orchid, and other sensitive species has been documented.

Question 3. How does it relate to the National Program(s) and National Program Component(s)?

TEAM Leafy Spurge is a part of the USDA-ARS Area-Wide Management Program. It is a component of Crop and Commodity Pest Biology, Control and Quarantine (304). TEAM Leafy Spurge complements efforts to develop new and improved pest control technologies and assess component technologies for integrated pest management(IPM) systems.

Question 4. What was your most significant accomplishment this past year?

Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) infests five million acres in the upper mid-west and infestations can be found in 30 states and all but one of the Canadian provinces. Increased public awareness and education was accomplished through press releases, brochures, how to manuals, meetings, electronic media and biological control agent redistributions. Highlight of the 2000 season were the publication of "Biological Control of Leafy Spurge," a full 20 page manual that provides step-by-step instructions for using leafy spurge flea beetles and the design and implementation of a newly designed web site. Impacts will include increased public awareness of the benefits that can be gained by embracing IPM, ranch profitability, improved range health, more effective and lower cost management strategies for public land managers, and reduced reliance on expensive and environmentally taxing chemicals.

Question 5. Describe your major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.

The primary objective for TEAM Leafy Spurge's technology transfer program is increasing public awareness of the problem and distributing information people can use to address the problem. The goal is simple: By demonstrating effective, affordable and ecologically sustainable leafy spurge management technologies, ranchers, landowners and land managers will be better equipped to deal with leafy spurge. Impacts will hopefully include increased public awareness of the benefits that can be gained by embracing IPM, ranch profitability, improved range health, more effective and lower cost management strategies for public land managers, and reduced reliance on expensive and environmentally taxing chemicals. An indirect accomplishment will be, and has been, the creation of partnerships across a wide region. These partnerships will last well beyond the life of TEAM Leafy Spurge and will undoubtedly be utilized to address other weed and insect pest problems.

Question 6. What do you expect to accomplish year by year, over the next three years?

Priorities for the next calendar year include: Producing various informational brochures; maintaining and upgrading the TEAM Leafy Spurge web site; continuing distribution of periodic press releases throughout the four-state region; producing a second special edition of The Leafy Spurge News; attending events (trade shows, agricultural events, state weed control association meetings, state Cooperative Extension Service annual meetings, etc.) to distribute information about TLS, IPM and biological control; working with NDSU personnel to produce and complete a herbicide handbook; producing an informational TLS CD-ROM; producing video clips for the TLS website and CDs; produce and complete a feature length TLS documentary; complete work on the "Purge Spurge" CD-ROM database; and, host Spurgefest II - a three day seminar, demonstration and public forum event that includes participants from the invasive species council, land managers from the western United States and Canada, as-well-as participation by political leaders from the region.

Question 7. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology?

Technology transfer has thus far focused on increasing public awareness of the problem and possible solutions (Integrated Pest Management), and the effort has been ongoing since inception of the program. Additionally, specific IPM technologies are being transferred as they are developed via demonstrations and the dissemination of information.

Question 8. List your most important publications in the popular press (no abstracts) and presentations to non-scientific organizations, and articles written about your work (NOTE: this does not replace your peer-reviewed publications which are listed below).

TEAM Leafy Spurge has received a great deal of publicity throughout the four- state region, and it is impossible to keep track of all the stories that have been aired or printed. Similarly, TEAM Leafy Spurge personnel have participated in a multitude of events targeting a variety of audiences, making it difficult to pick a "most important presentation."

Question 9. Scientific publications

Anderson, G. L., E. S. Delfosse, N. R. Spencer, C. W. Prosser, and R. D. Richard. 2000. Biological Control of Leafy Spurge: An Emerging Success Story. In Proceedings, X International Biological Control Symposium, Bozeman, MT, July 4-9. pp. 15-25

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