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Population Modeling Approach for Evaluating Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula) Development and Control

  • Bruce D. Maxwell (a1), Mark V. Wilson (a2) and Steven R. Radosevich (a1)

Abstract

Weed population models can serve as a framework to organize weed biology information and to develop weed control strategies. Models help to identify information gaps, to set research priorities, to develop hypotheses pertinent to weed population regulation, and to suggest control strategies. A population simulation model of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L. # EPHES) was used to demonstrate the applicability of population models to weed science. Sensitivity analysis of an existing leafy spurge model indicated that transition from basal buds to vegetative shoots, survival of vegetative shoots, and survival of basal buds over winter were important transition parameters influencing population growth of this weed species. Possible mechanisms (intraspecific competition and environmental factors) that influence the transition from basal buds to vegetative shoots were shown. Intraspecific density effects on basal bud transition and production were included to show model refinement and second-generation model development. Four control strategies were simulated and were compared to field studies to show the predictive and management potential of the modeling approach. Simulations of population response to foliage feeding herbivores was highly correlated (r = 0.98) with field data for sheep grazing on leafy spurge. Simulation of picloram (4-amino-3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinecarboxylic acid) applied to leafy spurge also was correlated (r = 0.97) with field results.

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