The invasion potential and competitive ability of Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz (camelina) in rangeland ecosystems
Davis, Philip Browning
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Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz (large-seeded false-flax) is a recently introduced oilseed crop in Montana and has potential for large scale production for the biofuel market. However, due to weedy characteristics, the invasive potential of this species is of concern. A need exists to create a pre-entry protocol to accurately assess risk to minimize uncertainty inherent in qualitative weed risk assessment approaches. We assessed the probability of C. sativa to invade rangeland ecosystems of southwest Montana to address this concern. The objectives of this study were to 1) quantitatively assess the invasion potential of C. sativa by collecting demographic data over two years and developing a population dynamics model, 2) compare experimental results and modeling outcomes to predictions suggested by a qualitative weed risk assessment system, and 3) assess the impact of growing conditions on the relative competitiveness of C. sativa and Brassica napus (L.) (canola). Objective 1 was carried out in two contrasting rangeland ecosystems to assess the effects of disturbance and seeding season on emergence, survival, and fecundity rates of C. sativa. Population growth (lambda) was forecasted by developing a population dynamics model. Resulting lambda values from simulations using observed data never exceeded 0.03 and the maximum time to extinction was six years. The low lambda values indicate that the threat of invasion by this species in the studied ecosystems is low. Objective 2 compared quantitative results to predictions from the Australian weed risk assessment (WRA) model. In contrast to experimental results, outcomes from the WRA suggested that this species should not be allowed entry into the region. These opposing results highlight the need for a more comprehensive approach to weed risk assessment. Objective 3 was conducted over three trials in two greenhouses. A replacement series design was used to estimate the effects of soil conditions and the presence of an invasive weed, Bromus tectorum (L.) (cheatgrass, downy brome), on the competitive outcomes between C. sativa and canola. Replacement series diagrams determined that competition occurred and that canola was the superior competitor in all treatments, thus providing further evidence that the invasion potential of C. sativa is low.