Scholarly Work - Land Resources & Environmental Sciences

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    Suppression of non-native and native grass seed germination using mustard seed meal and mulch biofumigation
    (Wiley, 2024-04) Sencenbaugh, Lilly; Mangold, Jane M.; Ulrich, Danielle; Rew, Lisa J.
    Non-native annual grasses have invaded western rangelands in the United States, and novel approaches are needed to supplement existing management strategies. The aim of this study was to investigate biofumigation, the use of Brassicaceae products to suppress weeds, as a control for two non-native annual grasses (cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum and ventenata, Ventenata dubia) and its effects on two dominant native perennial grasses (bluebunch wheatgrass, Pseudoroegneria spicata and Idaho fescue, Festuca idahoensis). We tested the effect of the biofumigant Brassica juncea (brown mustard), applied as seed meal and mulch, on germination metrics of the four grass species in Petri dishes. Germination metrics included emergence and viability, time to cotyledon and radicle emergence and their lengths at 14 days after sowing. Impacts on emergence and viability were assessed using a binomial mixed effects model, while time to cotyledon and radicle emergence and lengths were assessed using linear mixed effects models. Seed meal reduced emergence and viability at lower application rates for V. dubia and F. idahoensis than the other two species. Mulch did not consistently reduce emergence or viability. P. spicata was the least inhibited by the biofumigants. When using seed meal, radicle emergence and length were inhibited in B. tectorum, V. dubia and F. idahoensis and cotyledon emergence and length were inhibited for all. The mulch did not impact these metrics consistently and may not be a viable management tool. The use of seed meal biofumigant to suppress undesired annual grasses in rangelands seems promising, but response is species-specific.
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    Heavy metal movement through insect food chains in pristine thermal springs of Yellowstone National Park
    (PeerJ, 2024-02) Adams, Braymond; Bowley, John; Rohwer, Monica; Oberg, Erik; Willemssens, Kelly; Wintersteen, Wendy; Peterson, Robert K. D.; Higley, Leon G.
    Yellowstone National Park thermal features regularly discharge various heavy metals and metalloids. These metals are taken up by microorganisms that often form mats in thermal springs. These microbial mats also serve as food sources for invertebrate assemblages. To examine how heavy metals move through insect food webs associated with hot springs, two sites were selected for this study. Dragon-Beowulf Hot Springs, acid-sulfate chloride springs, have a pH of 2.9, water temperatures above 70 °C, and populations of thermophilic bacterial, archaeal, and algal mats. Rabbit Creek Hot Springs, alkaline springs, have a pH of up to 9, some water temperatures in excess of 60 °C, and are populated with thermophilic and phototrophic bacterial mats. Mats in both hydrothermal systems form the trophic base and support active metal transfer to terrestrial food chains. In both types of springs, invertebrates bioaccumulated heavy metals including chromium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, copper, cadmium, mercury, tin and lead, and the metalloids arsenic, selenium, and antimony resulting from consuming the algal and bacterial mat biomass. At least two orders of magnitude increase in concentrations were observed in the ephydrid shore fly Paracoenia turbida, as compared to the mats for all metals except antimony, mercury, and lead. The highest bioaccumulation factor (BAF) of 729 was observed for chromium. At the other end of the food web, the invertebrate apex predator, Cicindelidia haemorrhagica, had at least a 10-fold BAF for all metals at some location-year combinations, except with antimony. Of other taxa, high BAFs were observed with zinc for Nebria sp. (2180) and for Salda littoralis (1080). This accumulation, occurring between primary producer and primary consumer trophic levels at both springs, is biomagnified through the trophic web. These observations suggest trace metals enter the geothermal food web through the microbial mat community and are then transferred through the food chain. Also, while bioaccumulation of arsenic is uncommon, we observed five instances of increases near or exceeding 10-fold: Odontomyia sp. larvae (13.6), P. turbida (34.8), C. haemorrhagica (9.7), Rhagovelia distincta (16.3), and Ambrysus mormon (42.8).
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    Extreme drought impacts have been underestimated in grasslands and shrublands globally
    (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2024-01) Smith, Melinda D. et al.; Felton, Andrew J.
    Drought has well-documented societal and economic consequences. Climate change is expected to intensify drought to even more extreme levels, but because such droughts have been historically rare, their impact on ecosystem functioning is not well known. We experimentally imposed the most frequent type of intensified drought—one that is ~1 y in duration—at 100 grassland and shrubland sites distributed across six continents. We found that loss of aboveground plant growth, a key measure of ecosystem function, was 60% greater when short-term drought was extreme (≤1-in-100-y historical occurrence). This drought-induced loss in function greatly exceeds previously reported losses for grasslands and shrublands, suggesting that the global impacts of projected increases in drought severity have been substantially underestimated.
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    Lime Management to Increase Soil pH in Semi-Arid Regions of the U.S.
    (Wiley, 2024-01) Rakkar, Manbir; Jones, Clain; Miller, Perry; McVay, Kent; Engel, Richard
    Soil acidification, a common issue in high-rainfall areas of the U.S. and Canada, has become a more prevalent problem in the semi-arid areas of the western U.S. Liming is an effective way to mitigate soil acidity as the carbonate reacts with hydrogen ions in the soil solution to increase the soil pH. However, questions exist about the type of liming product, lime rate, cost effectiveness, and how long the lime benefits last, especially in regions that have historically not needed lime, like much of the Great Plains. Earn 0.5 CEUs in Soil & Water Management by reading the article and taking the quiz at https://web.sciencesocieties.org/Learning-Center/Courses.
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    Plant size, latitude, and phylogeny explain within-population variability in herbivory
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2023-11) Robinson, M. L. et al.; Wetzel, William
    Interactions between plants and herbivores are central in most ecosystems, but their strength is highly variable. The amount of variability within a system is thought to influence most aspects of plant-herbivore biology, from ecological stability to plant defense evolution. Our understanding of what influences variability, however, is limited by sparse data. We collected standardized surveys of herbivory for 503 plant species at 790 sites across 116° of latitude. With these data, we show that within-population variability in herbivory increases with latitude, decreases with plant size, and is phylogenetically structured. Differences in the magnitude of variability are thus central to how plant-herbivore biology varies across macroscale gradients. We argue that increased focus on interaction variability will advance understanding of patterns of life on Earth.
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    Inoculant and fertilizer effects on lentil in the US northern Great Plains
    (Wiley, 2023-10) Miller, P. R.; Atencio, S. C.; Jones, C. A.; Carr, P. M.; Eriksmoen, E.; Franck, W.; Rickertsen, J.; Fordyce, S. I.; Ostlie, M.; Lamb, P. F.; Fonseka, D. L.; Grusak, M. A.; Chen, C.; Bourgault, M.; Koeshall, S. T.; Baber, K. W.
    Lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus) is an important crop, averaging over 250,000 ha in Montana and North Dakota during 2016–2021. However, relatively little is known about rhizobial inoculant and fertility response in lentil in the US northern Great Plains. The objective was to evaluate the effect of rhizobial inoculant formulations (seed coat and in-furrow) and nutrient additions (potassium [K], sulfur [S], and micronutrients) on lentil yield and seed protein concentration. This study was conducted at seven university research centers in Montana and North Dakota from 2019 to 2021, resulting in 20 location-years of data. In six of 20 experiments, inoculant application increased seed yield by an average of 36% (323 kg ha−1, p ≤ 0.05) but had no consistent effect on seed protein concentration. Lentil or pea crop history among locations did not explain inoculant response. Inoculant formulations (seed coat vs. in-furrow) and K fertilizer had inconsistent and small effects on seed yield and protein concentration. However, S fertilizer (5.6 kg S ha−1) increased seed yield in four of 20 experiments (p ≤ 0.02) by an average of 14.5% (255 kg ha−1) in those experiments and decreased seed yield for one experiment (p = 0.05) by 5.8% (153 kg ha−1). Pre-plant SO4-S soil test levels did not predict lentil response to S fertilizer. Micronutrient application was assessed in 12 location-years but had no effect on lentil yield or protein concentration. This research suggests a need to better understand what factors control lentil yield and protein response to rhizobial inoculant and S fertilization.
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    Are Adult Mosquito Control Products (Adulticides) Harmful? A Review of the Potential Human Health Impacts from Exposure to Naled and Dichlorvos (DDVP)
    (MDPI AG, 2023-12) Mendoza, Daniel L.; Peterson, Robert K. D.; Bonds, Jane A. S.; White, Gregory S.; Faraji, Ary
    We performed a thorough systematic review of published literature to determine potential links between human health impacts and naled, a registered adult mosquito control product (adulticide), and its major degradate, dichlorvos (DDVP). A search query was performed on 8 September 2023, capturing all articles published up to that date on the Scopus and PubMed databases. Inclusion criteria were the presence of either pesticide and a measured or modeled human health outcome or risk. The search string resulted in 382 articles; however, 354 articles were excluded, resulting in only 28 articles that met the inclusion criteria. The studies that directly relate to aerosolized ultra-low volume (ULV) mosquito control applications did not report any associated deleterious human health outcomes. Results from the reviewed papers displayed no negative health effects or led to inconclusive results. No studies showed adverse health effects from aerial ULV applications for mosquito management. Our findings are congruent with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that aerial applications of naled, following label parameters, do not pose an adverse risk exposure to humans, wildlife, and the environment.
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    Carbon and phosphorus exchange rates in arbuscular mycorrhizas depend on environmental context and differ among co-occurring plants
    (Wiley, 2024-01) Lekberg, Ylva; Jansa, Jan; McLeod, Morgan; DuPre, Mary Ellyn; Holben, William E.; Johnson, David; Koide, Roger T.; Shaw, Alanna; Zabinski, Catherine; Aldrich-Wolfe, Laura
    Phosphorus (P) for carbon (C) exchange is the pivotal function of arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM), but how this exchange varies with soil P availability and among co-occurring plants in complex communities is still largely unknown. We collected intact plant communities in two regions differing c. 10-fold in labile inorganic P. After a 2-month glasshouse incubation, we measured 32P transfer from AM fungi (AMF) to shoots and 13C transfer from shoots to AMF using an AMF specific fatty acid. AMF communities were assessed using molecular methods. AMF delivered a larger proportion of total shoot P in communities from high-P soils despite similar 13C allocation to AMF in roots and soil. Within communities, 13C concentration in AMF was consistently higher in grass than in blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata Pursh) roots, that is P appeared more costly for grasses. This coincided with differences in AMF taxa composition and a trend of more vesicles (storage structures) but fewer arbuscules (exchange structures) in grass roots. Additionally, 32P-for-13C exchange ratios increased with soil P for blanketflower but not grasses. Contrary to predictions, AMF transferred proportionally more P to plants in communities from high-P soils. However, the 32P for-13C exchange differed among co-occurring plants, suggesting differential regulation of the AM symbiosis.
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    Oxic methane production from methylphosphonate in a large oligotrophic lake: limitation by substrate and organic carbon supply
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2023-11) Peoples, Logan M.; Dore, John E.; Bilbrey, Evan M.; Vick-Majors, Trista J.; Ranieri, John R.; Evans, Kate A.; Ross, Abigail M.; Devlin, Shawn P.; Church, Matthew J.
    While methane is typically produced under anoxic conditions, methane supersaturation in the presence of oxygen has been observed in both marine and fresh waters. The biological cleavage of methylphosphonate (MPn), which releases both phosphate and methane, is one pathway that may contribute to this paradox. Here, we explore the genomic and functional potential for oxic methane production (OMP) via MPn in Flathead Lake, a large oligotrophic freshwater lake in northwest Montana. Time series and depth profile measurements show that epilimnetic methane was persistently supersaturated despite high oxygen levels, suggesting a possible in situ oxic source. Metagenomic sequencing indicated that 10% of microorganisms in the lake, many of which are related to the Burkholderiales (Betaproteobacteria) and Actinomycetota, have the genomic capacity to cleave MPn. We experimentally demonstrated that these organisms produce methane stoichiometrically with MPn consumption across multiple years. However, methane was only produced at appreciable rates in the presence of MPn when a labile organic carbon source was added, suggesting that this process may be limited by both MPn and labile carbon supply. Members of the genera Acidovorax , Rhodoferax , and Allorhizobium , organisms which make up less than 1% of Flathead Lake communities, consistently responded to MPn addition. We demonstrate that the genomic and physiological potential for MPn use exists among diverse, resident members of Flathead Lake and could contribute to OMP in freshwater lakes when substrates are available. IMPORTANCE Methane is an important greenhouse gas that is typically produced under anoxic conditions. We show that methane is supersaturated in a large oligotrophic lake despite the presence of oxygen. Metagenomic sequencing indicates that diverse, widespread microorganisms may contribute to the oxic production of methane through the cleavage of methylphosphonate. We experimentally demonstrate that these organisms, especially members of the genus Acidovorax , can produce methane through this process. However, appreciable rates of methane production only occurred when both methylphosphonate and labile sources of carbon were added, indicating that this process may be limited to specific niches and may not be completely responsible for methane concentrations in Flathead Lake. This work adds to our understanding of methane dynamics by describing the organisms and the rates at which they can produce methane through an oxic pathway in a representative oligotrophic lake.
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    Growth of Coal Mining Operations in the Elk River Valley (Canada) Linked to Increasing Solute Transport of Se, NO3–, and SO42– into the Transboundary Koocanusa Reservoir (USA–Canada)
    (American Chemical Society, 2023-11) Storb, Meryl B.; Bussell, Ashley M.; Caldwell Eldridge, Sara L.; Hirsch, Robert M.; Schmidt, Travis S.
    Koocanusa Reservoir (KOC) is a waterbody that spans the United States (U.S.) and Canadian border. Increasing concentrations of total selenium (Se), nitrate + nitrite (NO3–, nitrite is insignificant or not present), and sulfate (SO42–) in KOC and downstream in the Kootenai River (Kootenay River in Canada) are tied to expanding coal mining operations in the Elk River Watershed, Canada. Using a paired watershed approach, trends in flow-normalized concentrations and loads were evaluated for Se, NO3–, and SO42– for the two largest tributaries, the Kootenay and Elk Rivers, Canada. Increases in concentration (SO42– 120%, Se 581%, NO3– 784%) and load (SO42– 129%, Se 443%, NO3– 697%) in the Elk River (1979–2022 for NO3–, 1984–2022 for Se and SO42–) are among the largest documented increases in the primary literature, while only a small magnitude increase in SO42– (7.7% concentration) and decreases in Se (−10%) and NO3– (−8.5%) were observed in the Kootenay River. Between 2009 and 2019, the Elk River contributed, on average, 29% of the combined flow, 95% of the Se, 76% of the NO3–, and 38% of the SO42– entering the reservoir from these two major tributaries. The largest increase in solute concentrations occurred during baseflows, indicating a change in solute transport and delivery dynamics in the Elk River Watershed, which may be attributable to altered landscapes from coal mining operations including altered groundwater flow paths and increased chemical weathering in waste rock dumps. More recently there is evidence of surface water treatment operations providing some reduction in concentrations during low flow times of year; however, these appear to have a limited effect on annual loads entering KOC. These findings imply that current mine water treatment, which is focused on surface waters, may not sufficiently reduce the influence of mine-waste-derived solutes in the Elk River to allow constituent concentrations in KOC to meet U.S. water-quality standards.
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    Chelostoma Latreille, 1809 (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) of Montana, including first records of the introduced bees Chelostoma campanularum (Kirby, 1802) and Chelostoma rapunculi (Lepeletier, 1841)
    (Pacific Coast Entomological Society, 2023-05) Delphia, Caey M.
    The megachilid bees of the genus Chelostoma Latreille, 1809 in Montana, U.S.A., are reviewed. Two Palearctic species, Chelostoma (Foveosmia) campanularum (Kirby, 1802) and Chelostoma (Gyrodromella) rapunculi (Lepeletier, 1841), are reported for the first time from Montana. The Montana specimens represent a range expansion from southeastern Michigan for C. campanularum and from northeastern Illinois for C. rapunculi. These collections appear to represent an established local population for C. campanularum with specimens from multiple dates, years, and locations in Bozeman, Montana; specimens of C. rapunculi have only been found in one location and year. The habitat, distribution, and potential ecological impacts of establishment of these two non-native species in Montana are discussed. An identification key to the Chelostoma of Montana is provided.
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    Nitrogen fixation among pea and lentil varieties in the Northern Great Plains
    (Wiley, 2023-08) Baber, Kaleb; Jones, Clain; McPhee, Kevin; Miller, Perry R.; Lamb, Peggy
    Pulse crops, including lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) and pea (Pisum sativum L.), can improve the sustainability of Northern Great Plains cropping systems, largely through biological N fixation. Greater N fixation amounts can help producers to increase yield while decreasing N fertilizer inputs for the following crop. There may be potential to breed greater N-fixing pulse varieties, yet little is known about varietal differences in N fixation. Nitrogen fixation of pea and lentil varieties was quantified at two sites in Montana from 2019 to 2021 using an N difference approach and the 15N natural abundance method. Riveland and CDC Richlea were frequently high N-fixing lentil varieties, both fixing ca. 130 kg N ha−1 in the site-year with the most favorable growing conditions. No pea variety had consistently greater N fixation than others, despite N fixation ranging from 88 to 135 kg N ha−1 in one site-year among varieties. Nitrogen fixation by lentil had an inverse relationship with days to flowering but was not correlated with days to maturity. Nitrogen fixation by pea was positively correlated with days to maturity but was not correlated with days to flowering. Breeding lentil and pea for high N fixation by selecting high N-fixing varieties is likely difficult, as varieties performed differently under variable environmental conditions. Breeding efforts based on traits, such as days to flowering, could be more successful. There were more positive correlations between N fixation parameters and seed yield for pea than for lentil, suggesting that breeding for greater yields could increase N fixation for pea but not lentil.
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    Lentil nitrogen fixation response to fertilizer and inoculant in the northern Great Plains
    (Wiley, 2023-08) Baber, Kaleb; Jones, Clain; Miller, Perry; Lamb, Peggy; Atencio, Sydney
    Lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus) production in the semiarid northern Great Plains of the United States has increased dramatically over the past two decades. Lentil in rotation provides agroecosystem benefits of more efficient water use, pest cycle disruption, and biological nitrogen (N) fixation. Increasing N fixation could alleviate soil acidification and groundwater impairment, decrease N fertilizer costs, and increase lentil seed yield. Despite widespread farmer adoption of lentil in the region, little is known about the benefits of fertilizer or inoculant type on N fixation. The aim of this study was to determine how nutrients (potassium (K), sulfur (S), and foliar-applied micronutrients) and rhizobial inoculant types (seed-coat powder and granular) influence N fixation of lentil. The study was conducted at two field sites in Montana from 2019 to 2021. Fixed N amounts were calculated using both an N difference approach and 15N natural abundance method. N fixation was highly responsive to climatic conditions and soil characteristics. The amount of N fixed did not respond to K fertilization, likely because soil test K levels were sufficient. In a moderately dry year at a site with low soil sulfate-S, fertilizer application of 5.6 kg S ha−1 increased N fixed by 40%. Inoculated lentil fixed more N than uninoculated lentil in two site-years, but there were no differences in N fixed between inoculant types. Inoculation response was not related to field cropping histories with legumes. The study shows that S fertilization and rhizobial inoculation have potential to increase lentil N fixation amounts in the northern Great Plains.
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    Retrospective use of integrative taxonomy in classical biological control: The unintentional introduction of the weevil Rhinusa dieckmanni to North America
    (Elsevier BV, 2023-08) Toševski, Ivo; Sing, Sharlene E.; Caldara, Roberto; Weaver, David K.; Jović, Jelena; Krstić, Oliver; Hinz, Hariet L.
    A seed-feeding weevil introduced to North America (NA) as a biological control agent of the invasive toadflax Linaria dalmatica (L.) Mill., identified then as Gymnetron antirrhini “Dalmatian host race” and subsequently confirmed as established, was revealed through our study to be a separate species, i.e., Rhinusa dieckmanni (Behne) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). This weevil species was presumed to be endemic in its native range, with a distribution restricted to Mount Rila in southwestern Bulgaria. We conducted a comprehensive study of seed-feeding weevils associated with L. dalmatica, L. dalmatica ssp. macedonica (Griseb.) D.A. Sutton, L. genistifolia (L.) Mill., and L. grandiflora Desf. across a broad geographic area of their native range. Those results revealed that all four host plants were used by R. dieckmanni and thus the native geographic range of the species is wider than expected, encompassing the Balkans and the Anatolian Plateau. Our observations suggest that phenotypes of this weevil are highly variable and dependent on the seed capsule size of the Linaria host population. The haplotype network based on mitochondrial COII, 16S genes, and nuclear EF 1-α gene genealogy confirmed the conspecific nature of geographically distant weevil populations, that is, R. dieckmanni phenotypes utilizing L. genistifolia, L. dalmatica, and L. grandiflora for larval development. Specimens collected from L. dalmatica in the northwestern USA shared the same haplotypes as samples from L. dalmatica ssp. macedonica in southwestern North Macedonia, supporting the known introduction history of the North American population. Females from these populations have relatively short rostrums, which may limit their reproductive success on North American invasive L. dalmatica with larger seed capsules.
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    Pinus contorta Alters Microenvironmental Conditions and Reduces Plant Diversity in Patagonian Ecosystems
    (MDPI AG, 2023-02) García, Rafael A.; Fuentes-Lillo, Eduardo; Cavieres, Lohengrin; Cóbar-Carranza, Ana J.; Davis, Kimberley T.; Naour, Matías; Núñez, Martín A.; Maxwell, Bruce D.; Lembrechts, Jonas J.; Pauchard, Aníbal
    Pinus contorta is considered one of the most invasive tree species worldwide, generating significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. In several Patagonian ecosystems in southern Chile, it has escaped from plantations established mainly in the 1970s, and is now invading both forests and treeless environments. In this study, we evaluated the impact of the invasion of P. contorta on microenvironmental conditions in Araucaria araucana forest and Patagonian steppe ecosystems, and assessed how these changes related to the richness and abundance of native and non-native plant species. In each ecosystem, 24 plots of 100 m2 were established along a gradient of P. contorta biomass, where 18 environmental variables and the composition of native and non-native vegetation were measured at a local scale. Our results indicated that increased pine biomass was associated with differences in microclimatic conditions (soil and air temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and soil moisture) and soil properties (potassium, nitrate, pH, and litter accumulation). These changes were ecosystem dependent, however, as well as associated with the level of invasion. Finally, the reduction in the richness and abundance of native plants was associated with the changes in soil properties (accumulation of leaf litter, pH, and organic matter) as well as in the microclimate (minimum air temperature, PAR) generated by the invasion of P. contorta. Overall, our results confirm that the invasion of P. contorta impacts microenvironmental conditions (i.e., canopy cover, litter accumulation, minimum air temperature, and maximum soil temperature) and reduces native plant diversity. For future restoration plans, more emphasis should be given to how environmental changes can influence the recovery of invaded ecosystems even after the removal of the living pine biomass (i.e., legacy of the invasion).
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    Impact of Puccinia punctiformis on Cirsium arvense performance in a simulated crop sequence
    (Frontiers Media SA, 2023-05) Chichinsky, Daniel; Larson, Christian; Menalled, Fabian D.; Seipe, Tim; Eberly, Jed
    Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) is a perennial weed that causes significant economic losses in agriculture. An extensive rhizomatous root system makes C. arvense difficult to manage, particularly in agricultural systems that use tillage as a primary management tool. There is a need for the development of integrated weed management toolsets that include C. arvense biological controls. Puccinia punctiformis (thistle rust) is an autoecious fungal pathogen that systemically infects C. arvense, with the potential to reduce host vigor over time. The goal of this study was to integrate the P. punctiformis biocontrol with a simulated annual cropping sequence in a greenhouse environment and evaluate C. arvense’s above-and belowground biomass production, and its competitive ability. Repeated P. punctiformis inoculations produced systemically infected C. arvense stems in greenhouse pots over time. Cirsium arvense that was inoculated with P. punctiformis had 1.6 grams/pot (p = 0.0019) less aboveground biomass and 5.6 grams/pot (p< 0.001) less belowground biomass, compared to the non-inoculated (control). Puccinia punctiformis and crop competition interacted additively to lower aboveground (p<0.001) and belowground (p<0.001) C. arvense biomass more than individual use of either the biocontrol or competition alone. The aboveground competition intensity of C. arvense in a mixed crop sequence, relative to non-inoculated C. arvense grown in a monoculture, was moderately impacted by the P. punctiformis biocontrol (p = 0.0987). These results indicate that systemic infection can reduce biomass production and the competitive ability of C. arvense. Overall, P. punctiformis can be integrated into competitive annual cropping sequences with the potential to reduce C. arvense vigor over time.
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    Long‐term cover crop effects on biomass, soil nitrate, soil water, and wheat
    (Wiley, 2023-05) Miller, Perry R.; Jones, Clain A.; Zabinski, Catherine A.; Tallman, Susan M.; Housman, Megan L.; D'Agati, Kristen M.; Holmes, Jeffrey A.
    Cover crops during summer fallow have been rarely researched in the semiarid northern Great Plains. This study was conducted during 2012–2019 at four Montana locations and included four functional groups (Brassica family, fibrous-rooted crops, legumes, and tap-rooted crops). Eleven treatments included sole functional groups, a Full Mix, the Full Mix minus each functional group, pea, and chemical fallow. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was grown after each cover crop year with three nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates. Cover crops were terminated with herbicide at first flower stage of pea (Pisum sativum L.) 57 to 66 days after planting. Shoot biomass averaged 2.0 Mg ha−1 over eight site-years representative of dryland farming in Montana. Using equal overall plant densities, treatments with six species averaged 13% greater biomass than two species. Measured at termination to a 0.9-m depth, Fallow held greater soil water than cover crop treatments, with Fallow averaging 57 mm greater than the Full Mix. Soil nitrate averaged 49 kg N ha−1 greater after Fallow than the Full Mix; the Legume treatment averaged 26 kg N ha−1 greater than the Minus Legume treatment. Wheat yield on Fallow averaged 0.85 Mg ha−1 greater than the Full Mix in 5 of 10 site-years, mainly at the driest site-years. The Legume treatment elevated wheat protein over the Minus Legume treatment by an average of 15 g kg−1. Cover crops grown during summer fallow reduced soil nitrate-N, soil water, and wheat yields compared with chemical fallow, especially in the major wheat growing region of north central Montana.
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    Aerobic methane synthesis and dynamics in a river water environment
    (Wiley, 2023-06) Alowaifeer, Abdullah M.; Wang, Qian; Bothner, Brian; Sibert, Ryan J.; Joye, Samantha B.; McDermott, Timothy R.
    Reports of aerobic biogenic methane (CH4) have generated new views about CH4 sources in nature. We examine this phenomenon in the free-flowing Yellowstone river wherein CH4 concentrations were tracked as a function of environmental conditions, phototrophic microorganisms (using chlorophyll a, Chl a, as proxy), as well as targeted methylated amines known to be associated with this process. CH4 was positively correlated with temperature and Chl a, although diurnal measurements showed CH4 concentrations were greatest during the night and lowest during maximal solar irradiation. CH4 efflux from the river surface was greater in quiescent edge waters (71–94 μmol m−2 d) than from open flowing current (~ 57 μmol m−2 d). Attempts to increase flux by disturbing the benthic environment in the quiescent water directly below (~ 1.0 m deep) or at varying distances (0–5 m) upstream of the flux chamber failed to increase surface flux. Glycine betaine (GB), dimethylamine and methylamine (MMA) were observed throughout the summer-long study, increasing during a period coinciding with a marked decline in Chl a, suggesting a lytic event led to their release; however, this did not correspond to increased CH4 concentrations. Spiking river water with GB or MMA yielded significantly greater CH4 than nonspiked controls, illustrating the metabolic potential of the river microbiome. In summary, this study provides evidence that: (1) phototrophic microorganisms are involved in CH4 synthesis in a river environment; (2) the river microbiome possesses the metabolic potential to convert methylated amines to CH4; and (3) river CH4 concentrations are dynamic diurnally as well as during the summer active months.
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    Cowpea extrafloral nectar has potential to provide ecosystem services lost in agricultural intensification and support native parasitoids that suppress the wheat stem sawfly
    (Oxford Academic, 2023-05) Cavallini, Laissa; Peterson, Robert K. D.; Weaver, David K.
    The native parasitoids Bracon cephi (Gahan) and B. lissogaster Muesebeck (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) reduce populations of Cephus cinctus Norton (Hymenoptera: Cephidae), a native grassland species, and major wheat pest on the Northern Great Plains of North America. Non-host feeding adults of these braconids increase longevity, egg load, and egg volume when provisioned carbohydrate-rich diets. Nutrition from nectar can enhance the success of natural enemies in pest management programs. Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walpers, is a potential cover-crop that could add resilient features to the landscape and has extrafloral nectaries (EFN), easy-access nectar sources for beneficial insects. If more cowpea was grown on the Northern Great Plains, would B. cephi and B. lissogaster benefit from foraging on putatively beneficial EFN? We investigated cowpea inflorescence stalk extrafloral nectars (IS-EFN) and leaf stipel extrafloral nectars (LS-EFN) as potential food sources for these parasitoids. Females were caged on EFN sources on living cowpea plants to assess longevity. Egg load and volume were measured at 2, 5, and 10 days after placement. Bracon cephi survived 10 days on water, 38 days on IS-EFN; B. lissogaster 6 days on water, 28 days on IS-EFN. Bracon lissogaster maintained a constant egg load and volume across treatments while B. cephi produced 2.1-fold more eggs that were 1.6-fold larger on IS-EFN. Y-tube olfactometry indicated adult females were attracted to airstreams containing cowpea volatiles. These results demonstrate that non-native, warm-season cowpea benefits these native parasitoids and may improve conservation biocontrol of C. cinctus.
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    Using spatially variable nitrogen application and crop responses to evaluate crop nitrogen use efficiency
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2023-05) Hegedus, Paul B.; Ewing, Stephanie A.; Jones, Claim; Maxwell, Bruce D.
    Low nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is ubiquitous in agricultural systems, with mounting global scale consequences for both atmospheric aspects of climate and downstream ecosystems. Since NUE-related soil characteristics such as water holding capacity and organic matter are likely to vary at small scales (< 1 ha), understanding the influence of soil characteristics on NUE at the subfield scale (< 32 ha) could increase fertilizer NUE. Here, we quantify NUE in four conventionally managed dryland winter-wheat fields in Montana following multiple years of sub-field scale variation in experimental N fertilizer applications. To inform farmer decisions that incorporates NUE, we developed a generalizable model to predict subfield scale NUE by comparing six candidate models, using ecological and biogeochemical data gathered from open-source data repositories and from normal farm operations, including yield and protein monitoring data. While NUE varied across fields and years, efficiency was highest in areas of fields with low N availability from both fertilizer and estimated mineralization of soil organic N (SON). At low levels of applied N, distinct responses among fields suggest distinct capacities to supply non-fertilizer plant-available N, suggesting that mineralization supplies more available N in locations with higher total N, reducing efficiency for any applied rate. Comparing modelling approaches, a random forest regression model of NUE provided predictions with the least error relative to observed NUE. Subfield scale predictive models of NUE can help to optimize efficiency in agronomic systems, maximizing both economic net return and NUE, which provides a valuable approach for optimization of nitrogen fertilizer use.
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