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Invasive Species Working Group

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) Invasive Species Working Group is an internal multidisciplinary team with representatives across the Interior West. This cross-program group synthesizes RMRS research studies covering diverse disciplines to: (1) improve access to cohesive information addressing critical invasive species issues, (2) identify emerging research needs, and (3) promote the generation of innovative tools and technologies for managing invasive species. The Invasive Species Working Group produces a quarterly newsletter to familiarize stakeholders and customers with RMRS invasive species research activities and provide a comprehensive and easily accessible source for research findings.

Banded Elm bark beetle
Banded Elm bark beetle
RMRS research covers a number of invasive species. In general, exotic plants and aquatic organisms present great threats due to the sheer number of invaders. However, certain pathogens and terrestrial insects have high impacts on trees and forests. Invasive species of particular concern include: cheatgrass; leafy spurge; tansy ragwort; spotted knapweed; bufflegrass; saltcedar; white pine blister rust; Armillaria root disease pathogens; rainbow; brook and brown trout; golden algae; spruce aphid; and, banded elm bark beetle.

RMRS multidisciplinary invasive species programs have been active for 75 years with associated expertise, records, specimen collections, and long-term research plots. The Station provides the basic ecological and biological information to help managers eradicate new invaders. Station staff members work closely with land managers and other partners from domestic and international agencies and universities to incorporate scientific findings into management plans.

For well-established, widespread invasive species, RMRS makes contributions to the development and testing of landscape-scale mitigation strategies to prevent further spread of invasives into new areas and to suppress invasive populations below ecological and economic impact thresholds. This is accomplished using environmentally compatible tools and integrated control programs.

Interdisciplinary approaches, including integration of genetics, pathology, ecology and silviculture, are used by RMRS to develop science-based information/tools.
Interdisciplinary approaches, including integration of genetics, pathology, ecology and silviculture, are used by RMRS to develop science-based information/tools.

Nonnative brook trout (pictured here) may displace threatened native bull trout through competition and hybridization (photo by K. Morita).
Nonnative brook trout (pictured here) may displace threatened native bull trout through competition and hybridization (photo by K. Morita).
Common themes of RMRS invasive species research include:

  • Assessing biological, economic, and social impacts of invasive species in natural ecosystems.

  • Developing biological control methods for invasive plants.

  • Assessing the role of natural disturbances and forest management practices on the establishment and spread of invasive species.

  • Determining basic biology, ecology, and genetics of invasive species and other affected species to predict future impacts and design appropriate management and restoration strategies.

  • Testing treatments and methods for restoring or rehabilitating invaded ecosystems and evaluating treatment consequences to native species and ecosystem processes.

  • Developing technologies for molecular identification and risk assessment models for predicting and detecting current and potential invasive species.

  • Developing user-friendly technology transfer tools (e.g., Web-based tools for predicting fire’s effects on invasive species) that synthesize science-based information for managing invasive species.


Spotted knapweed invading the forest from a road.

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