RESEARCH OVERVIEW:

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Increase knowledge about the biology, ecology and integrated management of tall buttercup, a poorly understood species on the Montana noxious weed list. 

Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) is a perennial noxious weed commonly found in moist fields, pastures, grasslands, and irrigated and sub-irrigated meadows. It was listed as a Montana state noxious weed in 2003 and is a category 2A weed.  Tall buttercup infests about 20,500 acres in 13 different counties, and has been the most problematic in southwestern Montana. Despite its widespread distribution, the impacts of tall buttercup for landowners and plant communities are relatively unknown.  In Montana, tall buttercup is not often considered a priority species for management relative to other weeds. However, as a category 2A species, eradication may be possible in some areas and proper management is necessary to prevent tall buttercup from becoming even more widespread.  

My research is focused on measuring the impacts of tall buttercup on plant community diversity and forage production across varying levels of infestation. I am also testing various tall buttercup control strategies including herbicides, mowing, and fertilization alone and in combination with each other. In order to better understand tall buttercup biology and spread, I will be conducting a seed bank study and seed viability analysis in the greenhouse. The results from these studies will be shared with land managers and producers across the state of Montana with particular emphasis in regions where tall buttercup is problematic. 
Ultimately, my research will increase our understanding of both the ecological and economic impacts of tall buttercup and provide land managers and producers with effective management strategies to control existing infestations and conserve areas currently free of tall buttercup.

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