FY2011 Annual Report Project Descriptions

MAINTAINING THE ENVIRONMENT

3

National Science Foundation
Collaborative Research: Landform Controls on Hydrologic Flowpaths and Pedogenesis Explain Solute Retention and Export from Pedon to Catchment Scales .

Principal Investigator: D. Ross

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Headwater catchments (small watersheds) are inherently complex. The soils, subsoils, and geologic properties exhibit heterogeneity at different scales and stream chemistry draining these areas typically varies from one catchment to another in space and time. Yet these headwater catchments comprise the majority of the landscape and are responsible for setting the quality of water at a regional scale. The project is aimed at explaining the spatial and temporal variation in stream water chemistry at the headwater catchment scale using a hydropedological framework. This framework examines both soil development and stream chemistry from a new perspective. The way in which water chemically evolves along flowpaths in the landscape as it travels to the stream is strongly influenced by the soils through which it passes. In turn, soil development is strongly affected by water flowpaths. In a small headwater catchment at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, four subcatchments that have contrasting stream chemistry representative of forested streams throughout northern New England will be studied by a team of scientists to examine how distinct patterns of soil development can be used to interpret sources of solutes in stream water. The overall goal of the project is to develop a predictive model of landform control on hydrologic flowpaths and soil development that explains solute retention and export from an individual soil profile to an entire hillslope to watershed scales. During the first year of this project, we measured different forms of aluminum, iron and manganese; and how these elements redistribute themselves throughout the watershed, both vertically and horizontally.

Outcomes & Impacts:
We have found supporting evidence for our model of lateral subsurface flow and accumulation of carbon and associated elements in the lower soil horizons. Iron appears to move mostly through vertical flow but manganese also moves laterally. Understanding the linkages between hydrology and soil development can provide valuable information for managing forests and stream water quality. Feedbacks between soils and hydrology that lead to predictable landscape patterns of soil chemistry have implications for understanding spatial patterns in site productivity and suitability for species with differing habitat requirements or chemical sensitivity. Better integration between soil science, hydrology, and biogeochemistry will provide the conceptual leap needed by the hydrologic community to be able to better predict and explain temporal and spatial variability of stream water quality.


3

National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Ecological and Evolutionary Factors Influence Invasion Success .

Principal Investigator: J. Molofsky

Accomplishments & Outputs:
We are determining why a species that is not invasive in its native range becomes invasive in the introduced range causing ecosystem disruptions. Using individual genetic variants of Phalaris arundinacea taken from its native European range and invasive genetic variants from North America, we show that invasive populations possess smaller genomes and harbor greater evolutionary potential than native populations of this species. We have also shown that an evolutionary change in C:N ratio in the leaves of invasive genotypes can be responsible for making reed canary grass more aggressive in wetlands.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The major findings of our work suggest that the continued introduction of different genetic variants for horticultural or agronomic plant species may increase the invasive potential of these species and increase its ability to continue to spread into new areas. Changes in key traits like C:N content of leaves can result in increased aggressiveness of reedcanary grass making it more likely to take over wetlands.

Publications:
Eppinga M, M. A. Kaproth, A. R. Collins and J. Molofsky. 2011. Litter feedbacks, evolutionary change and exotic plant invasion Journal of Ecology 99:503-514.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01781.x

Calsbeek, B., S. Lavergne, M. Patel and J. Molofsky. 2011. Comparing the genetic architecture and potential response to selection of native and invasive populations of reed canarygrass. Evolutionary Applications. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-4571.2011.00195.x


3

University of Connecticut
The Potential Evolutionary Response of Two Woody Invasive Species: Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) .

Principal Investigator: J. Molofsky

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to understand why two ornamental shrubs species Japanese barberry and Oriental bittersweet are invading forest habitats in New England. We collected individuals of both species from both its invasive range in New England and its native range in Japan. Clones of each individual were created and subsequently grown in three common gardens (two in New England, Vermont and Connecticut and one in Japan) to determine the relative performance of these individuals in different gardens. To date, we are analyzing the data to determine whether the clones from the invasive habitat grow larger and spread more than the native clones. Our data will help determine whether the New England varieties of these ornamental shrub species have evolved to be more aggressive than their native counterparts.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The experimental gardens have been harvested and the data will be analyzed to determine if these invasive shrubs can grow in a variety of different habitats and whether the New England varieties are more aggressive than the native varieties. The data we collect will help determine whether it is safe to grow these ornamental shrubs in Vermont.


3

Hatch
Predicting invasiveness of introduced species into communities .

Principal Investigator: J. Molofsky

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to determine the potential ecological mechanisms whereby the invasive grass Phalaris arundinacea spreads through wetlands.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Our will help protect ecosystems from invasive grasses by identifying the important mechanisms that contribute to their spread into wetlands.

Publications:
Collins, R, and J. Molofsky. 2011. Ecological genetics of invasion. Invasive Plant Ecology (editors, S. Jose, H.P.Singh, D.R. Batish, and R. K. Kohli). CRC Press.


3

Hatch
Quantifying Carbon Pools, Sequestration Potential, and Reactivity in Vermont Soils .

Principal Investigator: D. Ross

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The objectives of this project are: i) determine the overall spatial distribution of carbon pools in Vermont soils; ii) determine the relationship between tree species, soil type, and carbon pools in Vermont's forest ecosystems; and iii) determine the relationship between crop management, soil type and carbon pools in Vermont's agronomic ecosystems. The effort to map the spatial distribution of carbon in Vermont soils began in a UVM service-learning course. In order to predict the potential of Vermont's forests to sequester carbon, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (VT FPR) needed a statewide assessment of current carbon storage. Using the approach developed by the students, the VT FPR and the NRCS completed the work for all but one of the remaining counties. This map has been published on the internet and in a recent report on the status of Vermont's forest ecosystems by the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative. For the second objective, we established 18 reference plots throughout Vermont where we performed a detailed characterization of both above and below ground carbon pools. Sites include the major soil and forest types found in the region and are on federal, state, town, UVM and private non-profit lands. All sites have a sustainable management plan and will be performing a timber harvest. A website (www.uvm.edu/~soilcrbn) has been created to inform the public. Two sites have been harvested and resampling, focused on the forest floor, occurred over the summer of 2011. For the third objective, we have sampled a long-term field trial that is comparing different cropping systems used on dairy farms in the northeast. Bulk density samples were taken and soil carbon analysis is in progress. The effect of cropping system on bulk density was unexpected, with continuous corn significantly lower than an established fescue/alfalfa mix (1.18 vs. 1.33 Mg/ha); other treatments (no-till corn and corn with a winter rye cover crop) were intermediate.

Outcomes & Impacts:
We found a wide range in carbon pools on the 18 reference plots established under objective 2. Forest type varied between rich northern hardwood, northern hardwood, lowland spruce-fir and mixed. Sugar maple was the dominant species at most of the hardwood sites. Aboveground carbon, live trees only, ranged from 62 to 180 Mg/ha. Belowground carbon ranged from 59 to 234 Mg/ha but variability within plots was high and statistically significant differences among plots were limited. Forest floor carbon, included in the belowground, varied between 1.5 to 34.9 Mg/ha with statistically significant differences between many of the plots. The number of plots was too low to clearly determine the cause of the variability but recent land-use appeared to be a major factor. Sites that had a history of agriculture in the past century tended to have relatively thick Ap horizons (plow layer) and relatively thin forest floors. Results are informing forest managers and other professionals on the current carbon status of Vermont's managed forests. Sites with relatively low carbon pools should have a higher potential for future carbon sequestration. Results from the crop rotation experiment will inform farm managers and other professionals on the carbon sequestration potential of different crop rotations currently in wide use in the northeast.


3

Hatch
Integrating Vermont's Common Assets Trust with Payments for Ecosystem Services .

Principal Investigator: J. Farley

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to provide the background research necessary for Vermont's citizens and legislators to make informed decisions about proposed legislation for a Vermont Common Assets Trust (VCAT). We seek to identify what common assets should be included in the trust, how the trust should manage and allocate these assets, and how much revenue the trust could generate. We also propose a payment for ecosystem services scheme through which trust revenue could be used to pay private landowners to manage their land for public good benefits. We surveyed Vermonter's attitudes towards a VCAT for atmospheric waste absorption capacity and for water. Two students completed their master's theses on VCAT, with a third currently underway. We also conducted graduate and undergraduate level courses on VCAT. We expect articles from the course and the theses to be published in a special issue of Ecological Economics on VCAT, edited by Joshua Farley and Robert Costanza. Flomenhoft prepared and published an updated Green Tax plan for the state of Vermont, and testified numerous times to the legislature about Green tax and common asset reforms. Testimony and press coverage from the Tax Commission can be found online at: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/Tax%20Commission.htm. We are currently working with the planning departments of Newport, St. Albans and Rutland to research the impacts of a land value tax shift in growth centers there. Our students and we have met several times with the planning departments and city councilors, presenting research results. Graduate student Brian Kelly was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the NSRC to continue his research on the integration of water into the VCAT. Farley received $3000 from the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation to write a paper entitled Institutions for Sustainable, Just, and Efficient Resource Allocation: The Vermont Common Assets Trust, and present it at the SCORAI (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative) conference, Socio-technical Transitions, Social Practices, and the New Economics: Meeting the Challenges of a Constrained World. Mountain Lakes House, Princeton, New Jersey. Legislation for the VCAT was introduced to the Vermont House in April, 2011. Results of this research have contributed to a special issue of Ecological Economics on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), 12 peer reviewed journal articles, 5 book chapters plus 6 others completed or in press, an accepted book proposal, 9 published conference abstracts, 4 full conference papers published or in press, 9 keynote and plenary addresses, and at least 10 other invited presentations by Farley and co-authors, all of which explicitly address common assets and/or payments for ecosystem services We have recently submitted a $3.9 pre-proposal to NSF PIRE to continue the research on PES, and another $75,000 pre-proposal to the Wallace Global Fund to continue research on VCAT. Flomenhoft has also received several additional grants to continue research on VCAT.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The past year was dedicated to research on integrating water into the VCAT and assessing the distributional impacts of a cap and auction for CO2 emissions. Survey results showed that the an overwhelming majority of Vermonters believed that water belongs to all Vermonters, and private businesses who extract it should compensate Vermonters for doing so. However, the market for groundwater appears to be very competitive, those who sell ground water to bottlers appear to earn very little. Taxes as low as a few cents per gallon could lead bottling companies to water from other states instead of Vermont. Concerning distributional impacts of CO2 cap and auction, we learned that transportation accounts for 47% of CO2 emissions in Vermont, and Vermonters in most income deciles spend relatively similar absolute amounts on gasoline. This means that a cap and auction system would be highly regressive. However, research on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in Vermont suggests that government funding of energy efficiency is far more effective than the auction price signal in reducing emissions. Furthermore, there is enormous potential for energy saving investments. The cost of savinga KWH of electricity through efficiency measures is less than $0.03, while a KWH costs about $0.15. This suggests that investing the returns from a cap and auction in energy savings for lower income households could more than offset the regressive impacts of the auction scheme itself, while further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We believe that our current economic system fails to make sustainable, just or efficient use of many common asset resources, and these resources are becoming increasingly scarce and increasingly important to society. Our results will help policy makers and citizens make intelligent choices concerning the conservation, fair distribution and efficient allocation of the shared natural and cultural heritage of Vermont.

Publications:
J. Farley, A. Schmitt F., J. P. Alvez, and P. M. Rebollar (2010) The farmer's viewpoint: Payments for ecosystem services and agroecological pasture based dairy production. Advances in Animal Biosciences 1:490-491

Pascual, U. and R. Muradian (coordinating lead authors), L. Brander, E. Gomez-Baggethun, B. Martin-Lopez, and M. Verma (lead authors), P. Armsworth, M. Christie, H. Cornelissen, F. Eppink, J. Farley, J. Loomis, L. Pearson, C. Perrings, S. Polasky (contributing authors) (2010) The economics of valuing ecosystem services and biodiversity. in TEEB, (2010) The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: The Ecological and Economic Foundations. Earthscan Press

Farley, J. (2010) Ecological Economics. In R. Heinberg and D. Lerch (eds.) The Post Carbon Reader - Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises. On-line: http://www.postcarbon.org/reader

Farley, J. 2011. Green Growth: Restorative Economics for a Post Carbon Planet. Conference proceedings (powerpoint and abstract) from Green Korea 2011 Green Growth: Challenge, Strategy and Cooperation. September 15, 2011, Seoul, Korea

Farley, J. 2011. Institutions for Sustainable, Just, and Efficient Resource Allocation: The Vermont Common Assets Trust. Conference proceedings (complete paper) from SCORAI (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative) conference, Socio-technical Transitions, Social Practices, and the New Economics: Meeting the Challenges of a Constrained World. Mountain Lakes House, Princeton, New Jersey.

Farley, J. 2011. The Foundations for an Ecological Civilization (in English and Chinese). Conference proceedings (complete paper) from Fifth International Forum on Ecological Civilization: Toward an Ecological Economics. April 28-29, 2011, Claremont, CA, USA

Farley, J. (2011) Institutions for a Green Economy: The Vermont Common Assets Trust. Conference proceedings (abstract) US Society for Ecological Economics 2011 conference. Building a Green Economy. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan June 26-29, 2011

Farley, J. (2011) The Economics of Information in a Green Economy. Conference proceedings (abstract) US Society for Ecological Economics 2011 conference. Building a Green Economy. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan June 26-29, 2011


3

Hatch
Trait variation across species range: Explaining invasion differences .

Principal Investigator: J. Molofsky

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to determine the environmental and biological processes that can control the spread of the weedy annual plant Cardamine hirsuta. To date, we have established both greenhouse common gardens and field experimental tests to compare the potential rate of spread of populations of Cardamine hirsuta from populations from Japan and Europe and from the United States. We have performed genetic analyses to determine the relatedness of European, Japanese and North American varieties of Cardamine hirsuta. We will use the data we have collected to model the potential spread of Cardamine hirsuta into communities.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Experiments are currently ongoing. Our project will aid in understanding how to control weedy annuals in agricultural settings.


3a

Forest Service/Department of Agriculture
Whey-Based, Fungal Micro-Factory Technology for Enhanced Mycopathogen Deployment in Forest Pest Management .

Principal Investigator: S. Costa

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The goal of this project was to manage an invasive forest insect with an enhanced formulation of a fungal biopesticide. Fungi area available as an alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides for management of insects and other pests of forestry and agriculture. Widespread use of these fungi is limited by practical and economic constraints associated with delivering sufficient fungi into the forest/field for effective pest management. Whey-based, fungal microfactory technology was developed to overcome these hurdles by allowing the biological control fungi to grow and reproduce after it is applied. Our focus is on the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect decimating hemlock forest from Maine down to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Aerial application of Mycotal, an European registered formulation of the insect-killing fungus Lecanicillium muscarium, enhanced with microfactory technology reduced hemlock woolly adelgid population growth in hemlock forest plots. Following the results of 2009 pilot study, where there was found less than half the growth in population than untreated plots, a subsequent application at a higher rate did not provide any additional benefit. However, the data did suggest that while HWA populations remained higher in the controls over the 2 year period, in the treated plots population growth had been arrested. A separate pilot study in 2010 found more than 75% reduction in HWA population growth. The use of enhanced fungus for management of hemlock wooly adelgid in forest shows promise as part of an integrated pest management approach. These results were well received at the 5th Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Symposium and subsequently published. We are currently pursuing an EPA Experimental use permit under a separate grant to allow wider area applications in northern and southern regions to assess management effectiveness on a forest bases.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Successful suppression of hemlock woolly adelgid population was achieved with insect-killing fungus enhanced using microfactory formulation technology. Applications were made via helicopter using operationally acceptable volumes of material delivered to hemlock forests. The results indicated that treatment effect lasted at least 2 years and was not improved by increasing treatment dosages, which has implications for cost savings. This project demonstrated the ability of microfactory technology to enhance use of insect-killing fungi for forest pest suppression. Not only that the microfactory formulated fungus could suppress the insects, but that it could be done with 1/10 the dosage of fungus traditionally used for pest management. The ability to dramatically reduce the application rate increases the economic feasibility of using fungi for biological pest management. In the case of hemlock forests, state forest managers have provided letters of support to the EPA for expanded testing and registration of the biopesticide tested in Tennessee forests. On a broader scale, microfactory technology could be applied to other fungi already EPA registered for management of a variety of pest. These commercial products are currently languishing because of high production costs instead of being adopted to replace or supplement their synthetic chemical counterparts. In the future, adoption of fungal microfactory technology is expected to reduce the need for chemical pesticides, the impacts they have on the environment and human health. State and National Forest Managers are in the planning process for incorporating fungi enhanced with microfactory technology into forest management plans. There are no other management alternatives for widespread suppression of hemlock woolly adelgid. Without this alternative, hemlock forests will continue to be lost to this invasive pest, which results in loss of sensitive habitat, impacts on stream quality affecting fish and water resources, and reduced recreational and atheistic value.

Publications:
Costa, S.D. 2010. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Suppression with Aerial Application of Mycotal in a Microfactory Formulation, Can It Work? Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the Eastern United States. Ashville, NC.


3a

Forest Service/Department of Agriculture
Aerial Application of the Adelgid Killing Fungus L. Muscarium .

Principal Investigator: S. Costa

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The hemlock woolly adelgid is an invasive insect pest that is decimating hemlock forests in the Eastern United States. In a related project, the insect-killing fungus Lecanicillium muscarium was demonstrated to be effective for suppression of adelgid population growth, but only when a fungal enhancer relying on whey-based, fungal microfactory technology was included. Because the microfactory formulation reduced the amount of fungus used to a level considered economically feasible, the manufacturer of a biopesticide containing L. muscarium has begun the registration process for a US label for use in hemlock forests. The current project will allow testing of the commercial fungus on larger acreage and in southern (TN) and northern (PA) climatic regions. It also is supporting the establishment of molecular techniques to allow assessment of fungal populations in hemlock forests. Determining the fungal population will facilitate assessing the need for further applications for pest suppression and help elucidate the ecology of disease dynamics within the forest community. A subcontract within this project will model the penetration of aerially delivered, spray deposits into the hemlock canopy. A pre-registration meeting, in part for securing an EPA Experimental Use Permit (EUP) was held at EPA headquarters and supported by information developed by the PI. Application for the EUP was delayed and prevented treatment of larger acreage during the 2011 season. Primer sets have been identified for determination of L. muscarium among other closely related fungi, even down to the specific isolate being delivered for forest protection. Research to model the penetration of aerially applied fungus was organized, including international participation. However, because of issues relating to involvement of USDA personnel in research projects involving aviation this objective was delayed. Critical to the success of this project will be the issuance of the EUP, identifying techniques to concentrate sufficient fungal DNA from foliage samples, and addressing relevant administrative concerns where aviation is involved in research projects.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Conducting research in two climatic regions will provide important insights into the interaction of insects and insect-killing fungi, especially as the insect has an unique behavior of growing during winter months. State forest managers in PA and TN, Federal Officials in the USDA-USFS and USDA-IR4 are working together with the PI to advance microfactory enhanced fungus for suppression of hemlock woolly adelgid. On a broader scale, microfactory technology could be applied to other fungi already EPA registered for management of a variety of pest and lead to reduced need for chemical pesticides, thereby lessening the impacts they have on the environment and human health. Commercial operators of applicators services should benefit from the spray penetration modeling, which will allow them to improve efficacy of biopesticide applications. Importantly, molecular diagnostics will provide insect pathologist and ecologists a new tool to examine the complexity of fungal disease dynamics, while forest managers will be able to increase cost effectiveness in timing of biopesticide applications. Currently, widespread management of hemlock woolly adelgid is not possible, either chemically or biologically. Hemlocks are a critical component of forest ecosystems especially because of their proximity to streams. The success of this project will be one of the final steps in providing a useful and environmentally sustainable management practice for hemlock woolly adelgid suppression into the hands of forest managers.


3a

Cornell University
Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network .

Principal Investigator: A. Hazelrigg

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of the Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network is to provide a network of Plant Pathologists throughout New England and the US that can respond to new or introduced pathogens or pests with rapid diagnosis. Accomplishments this past year have included training over 200 "First Detectors" to understand how to react and respond when a new pest or pathogen is detected in Vermont. All the First Detectors now receive a newsletter just for First Detectors across the NE alerting them of new developments in pest identification and new pest and pathogen introductions. First Detector Training will continue with pests and pathogens of significance

Outcomes & Impacts:
Managing new and introduced pests, pathogens and invasives costs millions of dollars in the US each year. Training of "First Detectors" helps offer a volunteer network of eyes in communities, farms and landscapes to help detect new pest and disease problems. The benefit of this First Detector Network extends what the Universities and Plant Diagnostic Clinics are able to detect in the field. This network extends across the US and may be the first to detect a new problem pest or disease. The stakeholders need training updating their knowledge of new and invasive pests and pathogens and how to identify new problems.


3a

University of Minnesota
Ecology of Nematode-Suppressive Soils in Midwest Soybean-Cropping Systems .

Principal Investigator: D. Neher

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines, is a devastating pathogen on soybean, a major crop in the Midwest. This project will use the SCN as a model pathogen to study the ecology of nematode suppressive soil in the Midwest cropping systems. This year, we completed analysis of year 2 data and completed field sampling for year 3 of a 4-year experiment conducted in two locations in Waseca County in Southern Minnesota. The experiment is a split-plot design with no-till and conventional tillage as main plots, and five crop sequence-biocide treatments as subplots. Measurements include crop yield, SCN population, soil suppressiveness to nematodes, fungal and bacterial parasitism or colonization of the SCN, microbial substrate utilization, and properties of nematode community structure and composition that relate to soil suppression. The field experiment will repeated in summer 2012 with the fourth and final phase of crop rotation sequence.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Natural SCN suppressiveness is observed in at both a commercial and experiment station field sites with monoculture, no-till soybean production without any biocide treatment. Based on results from years 1 and 2, we hypothesize that induced resistance and enzymatic degradation of the nematode cuticle may be the mechanisms of SCN suppression. Fungal-feeding nematodes appear to play a greater role in disease suppression than bacterial-feeding nematodes and it appears that Helicotylenchus competes for the same niche as H. glycines, suggesting direct competition may be occurring.


3a

Animal Health
Entomopathogenic Fungi for Management of Pear Thrips, Western Flower Thrips and Other Related Insect Pests with Soil - Inhabiting Stages in Greenhouses and Forests .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Thrips are found throughout the world and represent a serious threat to several important economic crops in the US, including, vegetables and a wide variety of greenhouse grown ornamentals. In the US, nursery and greenhouse crops generate total annual wholesale revenues totaling over 14 billion dollars. The income-generating potential of vegetables and greenhouse ornamentals far exceeds that of most traditional crops in the US when figured on a per hectare basis. Based on a recent survey of 6 of the 13 Northeastern states, the annual wholesale value in 2004-05 exceeded 460 million dollars, an increase of 17.5 percent since 2000. The greenhouse industry is a significant high-value cropping system, which enables growers of vegetables and ornamentals to extend the growing season and increase profits. Though greenhouses provide protection for year-round production, they also offer ideal conditions for pest outbreaks. By design, most greenhouses exclude pests and their natural enemies, thereby eliminating the natural checks and balances found in outdoor plantings. Chemical pesticides are commonly applied to combat thrips in greenhouses, often at weekly intervals when populations are high. This is neither environmentally sound nor sustainable. These pesticides pose a human health risk to greenhouse growers, their workers and customers. Western flower thrips represents one of the most serious pests facing growers, leading them to rely heavily on chemical pesticides. Non chemical alternatives are critically needed. One out of every two hardwood trees in Vermont is a maple, with Acer spp. making up 55 percent of the Northern Forest. Similar proportions of maple make up the Northern Forest throughout much of New England and New York. Significant revenue is generated from this hardwood resource. The USDA New England Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that 1.03 million gallons of syrup are produced annually in New England and New York, at a value of 34 million dollars. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets valued the annual sales of bulk maple syrup in Vermont at 14 million dollars, and estimated this crop was worth over 130 million dollars when factoring in the value-added products (syrup repackaging, maple sugar, candy and cream, etc.). The Northeast State Foresters Assoc. estimates the value of fall foliage in Vermont at 62 million dollars. In addition, maple represents a significant source of revenue to the state for its lumber and fuel wood, though exact estimates of these values are not available. Clearly, maple serves as an important source of income for small family farms throughout New England. A well-managed sugarbush represents a unique ecosystem, producing syrup--a valuable agricultural product--significant environmental benefits including a high level of forest biodiversity and carbon sequestration. In New England, over 61,000 acres of the Northern hardwood forest are managed for maple syrup production. It is critical to develop management strategies for insect pests especially pear thrips to protect this valuable forest resource.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Pear thrips populations were monitored and found to be stable at low to moderate levels across Vermont in spring 2011. During the summer of 2010, moderate damage was observed to sugar maple trees in some counties and was coupled with a serious and widespread killing frost in late May that completely defoliated thousands of acres across the state. Some light thrips damage was observed on refoliating trees in June 2010. In June 2011, damage was relatively low. A total of 194 isolates were transferred from the UVM Collection of Entomopathogenic Fungi to the ARS Collection, bringing the total to 743 fungal isolates associated with thrips and other arthropods that have been transferred to the USDA ARS Collection of Entomopathogenic Fungal Cultures for the period of September 2008 to June 2011. Investigations continued on the natural distribution of entomopathogenic fungi among pear thrips populations in maple forest soils. Soil samples were collected from maple forest stands within several counties in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. From these samples 153 fungal isolates were obtained from pear thrips and 24 cultures from other arthropods. The following entomopathogenic fungi were isolated from thrips: Beauveria bassiana (12 isolates), Metarhizium anisopliae (3 isolates), Lecanicillium sp. (63 isolates), Mariannaea sp. (10 isolates), Paecilomyces sp. (7 isolates), Paecilomyces lilacinus (2 isolates), Isaria sp. (41 isolates), Conidiobolus (2 isolates), Hirsutella (2 isolates), and several isolates relating to antagonistic (Trichoderma sp.) and phytopathogenic species (Fusarium and Rhinocladiella). Research was conducted to assess novel methods of producing fungal isolates that are tolerant to high heat. Specifically, apparent hyphal fusion between two morphologically different B. bassiana isolates and one of the fused colonies occurred which produced conidia that were more thermotolerant. Higher densities of longer hyphal tip growth were observed in the co-incubation of the two isolates than the individual cultures. After three cycles of the co-incubation, the culture was exposed to heat (45 deg C) and streaked on quarter strength SDAY to select thermotolerant colonies. Two dominant colonies, which were significantly different morphologically from the individual colonies, were selected after cycling and heat exposure. One showed much higher thermotolerance than the individuals. The selected colony had sponge-like mycelial growth and produced darker conidia (possibly a sign it accumulated more intracellular materials related to thermotolerance); the individual colonies had flat mycelial growth and relatively light colored conidia. A bioassay against western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) showed that no significant change in virulence occurred as a result of the exposure to induce thermotolerance.

Publications:
Kim, Parker, B.L., M. Skinner, D. Tobi, J.S. Kim and H.B. Teillon. 2011. Populations of pear thrips in sugar maple stands in Vermont: 1989-2005. Great Lakes Entomol. 44: 64-73.

Kim, J.S., M. Skinner, S. Gouli and B.L. Parker. 2011. Generating thermotolerant colonies by pairing Beauveria bassiana isolates. FEMS Microbiological Letters. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2011.02400.x

Kim, J.S., B.L. Parker and M. Skinner. Exploring medium effect on thermotolerance of entomopathogenic fungal conidia by serial conidia collection using two concentrations of siloxane. FEMS Microbiology Letters, J. Fed. European Microbiology Soc.

Gouli V.V., S.Y. Gouli, B.L. Parker, M. Skinner, J-S Kim and M.V. Shternshis. 2011. A new method of mass-production of hyphomycetous fungi for plant protection. Mycology and Phytopathology, State University of Moscow: pp. 1-12.

Kim, J.S., A. Kassa, M. Skinner, T. Hata and B.L. Parker. 2011. Production of thermotolerant entomopathogenic fungal conidia on millet grains. J. Industrial Microbiology & Biotech. 38: 697-704.

Gouli V.V., B.L. Parker, M. Skinner and S.Y. Gouli. 2011. Estimation of aerosol spray equipment for application of industrial mycopesticides. IOBC, Collected Articles: Plant Protection in GreenHouse Conditions-XXI century outlook, Institute of Plant Protection, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk: pp 1-5.

Gouli, V.V. and L.I. Pryshhepa. 2010. Optimization of practical application of mycopesticides for control of arthropod pests. Collected Articles: Plant Protection in GreenHouse Conditions - XXI century outlook, Institute of Plant Protection, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk. http://izr.by/doc/Cont.pdf. Pg. 201.

Gouli, V.V., S.Y. Gouli, B.L. Parker and M. Skinner. 2010. Fungi as epizootic factor in sucking alien insect populations in north-eastern region of the USA. IOBC, Collected Articles: IPM: Strategy and Practice. http://izr.by/doc/Cont.pdf. Pg 206.

Gouli, V.V., S.Y. Gouli, B.L. Parker, M. Skinner and M.V. Shternshis. New method of mass entomopathogenic fungi production. 2010. IOBC, Collected Articles: IPM: Strategy and Practice. http://izr.by/doc/Cont.pdf. Pg 211.


3a

Forest Service/Department of Agriculture
Hemlock Resource Protection in Northern New England: Assessing the Potential of Myriangium sp., an Insect-Killing Fungus, in Hemlock Woolly Adelgid .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a major insect pest of eastern and Carolina hemlock throughout the Eastern Seaboard. Depending on environmental conditions hemlocks can be killed in 2 or more years following infestation. Hemlock trees commonly grow in riparian zones, where chemical pesticides are not suitable for management of HWA in forest settings. Effective biological control is thus a critical means of reducing the negative impact of this devastating pest, which has essentially decimated hemlock trees in the southern regions of New England. While there are several exotic insect pests (Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, elongate hemlock scale, HWA, etc.) threatening the forest resources of VT, NH and ME, HWA ranks high among state forestry personnel as an immediate concern because it is known to have invaded all three states and its range is expanding. These states have been working together for several years to combat this threat. Currently no effective means of biological control exists. In 2008, the NH State forester, Kyle Lombard, observed an infested area with a natural decline in the HWA population. No HWA survived in this site, and based on evidence of fungal infection, it appeared that the epizootic was caused by an insect-killing fungus. The UVM Entomology Research Laboratory (UVMERL) identified fungi from this epizootic and found Myriangium sp., a known insect-killing fungus of scale insects, was consistently present. They have obtained this same fungus from epizootics of elongate hemlock scale in NY, PA and MA, which suggests this fungus could be developed as a microbial biocontrol agent for both HWA and EHS. Work is needed to develop the capacity to introduce this fungus into an infestation of HWA and create an epizootic that provides sustained suppression on HWA that would spread to adjacent populations. Extensive research has been done to manage HWA using predators, but to date their effectiveness has not been realized despite the high cost to rear and release them. The question remains, why introduce new exotic organisms into the environment when there may be a naturally-occurring microbial agent that could provide sustained biological control. The specific project objectives are to 1) Identify the occurrence of fungal epizootics in HWA infestations in ME, NH and VT and determine the incidence of Myriangium sp. associated with the epizootics, and 2. Conduct forest-based biotests on HWA to determine the virulence of the fungus Myriangium sp. and assess its ability to persist within an HWA population.

Outcomes & Impacts:
A spray trial was conducted on hemlock trees infested with hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) in Vernon, VT. Two isolates of Myriangium sp., one isolated from HWA and one from EHS, were tested in addition to an untreated control and a water blank. Twig samples were inspected 5 weeks after treatment, and after hurricane force precipitation. Mortality among the untreated and water controls was generally less than 5 percent. In contrast mortality among settles in the two Myriangium treatments was between 72-85 percent. This represents an increase in mortality of between 60-65 percent following treatment. Twig samples from HWA infested forests in Vermont and New Hampshire were taken and have been inspected for fungal infection. Fungi from these samples are currently being purified and identified.

Publications:
Reid, W.R., B.L. Parker, S.Y. Gouli, M. Skinner, V.V. Gouli & H.B. Teillon. Fungi associated with Adelges tsugae, and assessment of entomopathogenic isolates for hemlock woolly adelgid management. J. of Insect Science. 10: Article 62. insectsicence.org/10.62


3a

ICARDA - International Center for Research in the Dry Areas
Sunn Pest IPM .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The project was designed to develop integrated pest management strategies for Sunn Pest, a major damager of wheat and barley, with a major emphasis on the use of entomopathogenic fungi. Several trials were carried out in fields and overwintering sites. Results were disseminated to the growers via farmer field schools and to the international scientific community at scientific conferences through poster presentations and lectures, preparation of manuscripts and annual reports and with one-on-one communication.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Entomopathogenic fungi represent an underutilized biological control agent with great potential to manage many persistent pests in Central and West Asia. This past year effort was focused on preparing a manual for the research and development of entomopathogenic fungi. Several world-known scientists were enlisted to assist with preparing the manual. The publication is in the final stages of review and is expected to be published in 2012. By disseminating information relating to the testing of these beneficial microbials in this part of the world, their greater potential could be realized and contribute to alleviating food shortages for subsistence farmers in Central &West Asia by devising environmentally sound means of managing the insect pests of wheat, their staple food. Insights on the more effective use of beneficial fungi against Sunn Pest has improved techniques for use in US greenhouse ornamentals and forests.

Publications:
Parker, B.L., M. Amir-Maafi, M. Skinner, J.S. Kim & M. El Bouhssini. 2011. Distribution of Sunn Pest, Eurygaster integriceps Puton (Hemiptera: Scutelleridae), in overwintering sites. J. Asian-Pacific Entomology 14: 83-88.

Abdulhai, M., M. El Bouhssini, M. Jamal, A.N. Trissi, Z. Sayyadi, M. Skinner & B.L. Parker. 2010. Beauveria bassiana characterization and efficacy vs Sunn Pest, Eurygaster integricepsPuton (Hemiptera: Scutelleridae). Pakistan J. of Biol. Sci. 21: 1052-1056.

Abdulhai, M., M. El Bouhssini, M. Jamal, B. L. Parker, M. Skinner & Z. Sayyadi. 2011. Characterization and laboratory evaluation of efficacy of five isolates of Paecilomyces farinosus (Holm.) Brown & Smith on Sunn Pest overwintered adults Eurygaster integriceps Put. Arab J. of Plant Protection


3a

Rutgers University
Biology, Distribution, and Pest Status of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Agronomic, Fruit and Vegetable Crops and Urban Areas .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Entomopathogenic fungi represent an important component of a natural enemy complex whose potential role in regulation of invasive species has often been overlooked compared to parasitoids and predators. Further exploration, discovery and development of these microbes for introduced pests will likely lead to new tools for suppression. Entomopathogenic fungi possess many advantages over other biological control agents. They can penetrate directly through the host cuticle so spores do not need to be ingested to infect the host. Many species are facultative saprophytes allowing them to survive in the absence of the host, providing a continual reservoir of inoculum and eliminating the need for repeat applications. Many are selective, minimizing negative impacts on non-target organisms. Their capacity to produce large numbers of spores at low cost enhances their commercial potential. New scientific tools, including molecular markers and in-vitro production techniques allow for discovery, identification, and development of entomopathogens that were previously overlooked. Although progress has been made, entomopathogens still represent a relatively under-developed and under-utilized resource in the IPM arsenal. Research to assess the potential of entomopathogenic fungi for use against BMSB was conducted through this project. One of the first steps towards assessing the potential of entomopathogenic fungi is to make collections of the target pest showing symptoms of infection. UVM served as a repository for all symptomatic/infected BMSB collected throughout the infested sample areas. These cadavers were processed to isolate and purify associated entomopathogenic fungi, which were identified to species and placed in permanent storage in the UVM Worldwide Collection of Entomopathogenic Fungi. A standardized cost effective fungal bioassay method was devised adapting methods developed for assays used for Sunn Pest, a closely related hemipteran pest of wheat in West Asia. Two liquid fungal treatment methods were tested: direct spraying of the insect with a hand atomizer, and dipping the insect in a suspension. A standard commercial fungal isolate (GHA strain, found in the commercial product Botanigard) was used for these trials. Several Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae isolates from the UVM collection were selected for testing against BMSB. Isolates were chosen based on the following criteria: 1) demonstrated high level of virulent against Sunn Pest; 2) high rate of spore production (based on our previous research); 3) location of original collection (isolates from US sites, particularly the Eastern US were favored).

Outcomes & Impacts:
BMSB was sampled by regional project cooperators and UVM served as the repository for all symptomatic/infected BMSB collected. Over 300 cadavers were processed, each was surface sterilized, placed in a moist chamber and incubated at 25 deg C. The presence of mycelial growth was recorded and fungi were identified. Some of the cadavers were examined microscopically to detect obligatory fungi and others pathogens which cannot be cultivated on artificial media. The following fungi were isolated: Lecanicillium sp., Scopulariopsis , Epicoccum sp., Colletotrichum sp. , Fusarium sp., Penicillium and Aspergillus sp. Microscopic inspection of 100 dead insects did not uncover structures of entomophthoralean fungi or microsporidia. A standard fungal bioassay method was devised adapting methods developed for Sunn Pest. Test insects were collected from heavily infested sites in New Jersey and held on green bean pods and apples prior to treatment. Several bioassay containers were tested, and small clear plastic snap lid vials were the most effective. Five adults were held in each vial with a small piece of apple, and vials were kept in a second screen cage to ensure BMSB did not escape. Two treatment methods were used to assess the efficacy of liquid suspensions of the fungi: 1) direct spray of 1 ml of the suspension on the insects with a hand atomizer, and 2) applying 1 micro-liter of the suspension to the upper surface of each adult using an automatic pipette. A standard fungal isolate (GHA strain, in the commercial product Botanigard) was used for these trials included with several Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae isolates from the UVM collection. The following isolates and control treatments were tested: B. bassiana: the GHA strain, a strain from Sunn Pest; and an indigenous experimental isolate and M. anisopliae , two indigenous isolates. Three concentrations of fungi were tested: 1.0 x 10 6, 5.0 x 10 6 and 1.0 x 10 7 conidia/ml of a solution including a surfactant. Three control treatments were included: water only, water and surfactant and an untreated blank. After treatment, insects were allowed to air dry and then placed in the plastic vials with a piece of apple. Insects were inspected every 3 d for 12 d and data were collected on the number of live BMSB and evidence of fungal infection. Mortality in the controls was rarely exceeded 12 percent. The B. bassiana isolates exhibited higher levels of virulence than the M. anisopliae isolates. Both the GHA strain and the indigenous isolate were more pathogenic to BMSB than the foreign strain. One hundred percent mortality was obtained for both of these treatments 12 d after treatment using the spray application treatment method and the highest treatment concentration. Treated insects displayed typical signs of mycoses 9 days after inoculation. These results clearly show that indigenous fungi, some of which are currently available commercially, hold promise for biological control of BMSB. Further research is needed to determine the most suitable concentration to apply in field trials.

Publications:
Gouli, V., S. Gouli, M. Skinner, G. Hamilton, J.S. Kim and B.L. Parker. 2011. Virulence of select entomopathogenic fungi to the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stal), (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Pest Management Science.


3a

University of Michigan
Evaluation of Two Fungal Biopesticides Using a New and Novel Application Method in Commercial Tart Cherry and Apple Production .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Plum curculio (PC) is one of the primary internal feeders of a wide variety of rosaceous tree fruit crops, including apple, cherry, peach and plum. Untreated, PC can cause up to 85-90 percent damage of the fruit in these crops, causing a total crop loss in cherry, where there is a USDA mandated zero tolerance for PC larvae in fruit, and loss in high value fresh apple, peach, and plum production. Organophosphate (OP) insecticides have been the primary control for PC for over 50 years but are being phased out and newer chemistries, such as the neonicotinoids are being offered as alternatives. Neonicotinoids have shown some success in controlling PC, but their use as an OP replacement is raising concern among growers on several fronts, including reduced efficacy, higher input costs, and the greater persistence of neonicotinoid residues in the environment. A scarcity of highly effective PC controls is also a concern for the burgeoning organic fruit production community in the upper Midwest. This research team has developed a strategy for controlling PC for MI organic farmers that focuses on the use of pyrethrins and kaolin clay, but, unfortunately, this approach has shown limited efficacy, is expensive, and kaolin applications result in rapid mechanical wear to sprayers. Also, many pyrethrins are broad-spectrum, generalist poisons that are highly toxic to natural enemies, and their use is viewed as a major factor limiting the potential of biological control in organic fruit orchards. The development of biopesticide-based controls, is necessary to deliver a multi-tactic approach to optimize PC control. Both organic and conventional control methods of PC have traditionally targeted first generation adult beetles. This narrow focus on adult control is primarily because it is the visible life stage that causes damage, and, therefore, the stage that farmers are most familiar with. The development of soil-applied bio-insecticides will provide the opportunity to deliver a multi-tactic PC control program, adding controls targeting a far less mobile, and previously untargeted life stage, larvae and the diapausing generation. Previous research has focused on providing an economic delivery system for the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (Bb) by growing it on grain, then seeding the infected grain into the orchard. Although, we have shown this method to be highly effective, the regulation issues facing this delivery method were such that the legality of using it was in question. Therefore, different delivery systems must be devised. For this project specially designed pieces of mesh cloth treated with an entomopathogenic fungus (Parker mats) for deploying in fruit orchards to manage insects with a soil phase were tested in commercial orchards of apple and tart cherry to evaluate the efficacy of Bb (Mycotrol-O) against PC. If successful, this approach could strengthen existing conventional and organic IPM control programs targeting these two key pests of several fruit crops, reduce the environmental risk associated with PC control, and help to mitigate the effects of future pesticide regulation for fruit farmers.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Specialized mesh mats were produced that were treated with the registered Mycotrol ES formulation. Burlap fabric will be purchased in rolls, and cut into 1.33 x 1.33 m pieces. A circle measuring 0.5 m diameter was cut in the center of each piece and a single slit was made from the circle to the outside edge to facilitate placement around the base of the tree. Each piece was autoclaved, sprayed with a nutrient medium and allowed to air dry. When dry, each piece was sprayed with the fungal product at the rate of 5 x 10 13 spores per ha, placed individually in plastic bags and incubated at 22-24 deg C. After incubation, three 5-cm diam. randomly selected samples from five pieces of treated fabric were taken to assess spore concentration. Samples were rinsed in a sterile distilled water/Tween solution to remove spores. The solution was plated on quarter strength Sabouraud dextrose agar with yeast (SDAY) and after 2 d the number of CFUs was counted to determine the level of fungal establishment on the mat. An equal number of two types of control mats were prepared. One type was prepared as described above with the nutrient medium, but without the application of the fungal product. The other type was the fabric with no medium or fungal product, which served as the control. Assessment of the fungal load indicated that the fungus reproduced readily on the mats prior to deployment. Mats were delivered to the cooperating scientists for field evaluation. Preliminary results indicate the mats successfully reduced plum curculio populations. Additional research is needed to assess persistence of this treatment method compared to other standard treatment approaches.


3a

American Floral Endowment
Granular Formulations of Insect-Killing Fungi with Plant-Mediated IPM Systems for Thrips .

Principal Investigator: M. Skinner

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This project focuses on thrips, one of the most important pests of greenhouse production nationally, and a common reason why so many chemical pesticides are used on greenhouse ornamentals, due to grower fear of crop loss from this persistent virus-transmitting pest. This project evaluates a novel approach for integrated pest management (IPM) of western flower thrips (WFT) in spring bedding plants grown in commercial greenhouses that could be used nationwide, combining predatory mites, granular insect-killing fungi, a thrips pheromone lure and marigolds into a plant-mediated IPM system or guardian plant. Our prior research indicates that marigolds were highly attractive to WFT, even when populations were low. Predatory mites are sustained within the marigolds; and fungal inoculum when applied to the soil remained viable. Trials will be conducted in commercial greenhouses to further assess the reliability of the system under real world conditions. The guardian plant concept is based on the fact that adult WFT are attracted out of the crop to the flowering marigolds, where they reproduce. Immature WFT serve as prey for the predatory mite, Neoseiulus cucumeris, sustaining them and encouraging mite dispersal throughout the crop. Most WFT escaping predation drop to the soil to pupate, where they become infected with Beauveria bassiana fungi. The granular formulation enables the fungus to colonize the potting mix, eliminating the need for reapplication. This represents a low-cost, easy-to-use, non-chemical pesticide approach, suppressing WFT populations through a holistic system: ATTRACT, SUSTAIN & KILL. Because fungal treatments and mite releases are applied to the guardian plants (GPS) rather than the entire crop, management costs are reduced, while control is maximized. The need to develop environmentally sound strategies to manage WFT has never been more urgent. Reports of WFT populations showing evidence of resistance to commonly used chemical pesticides are more frequent. The public is more aware of the potential environmental and human health hazards of chemical pesticides and increasingly seek plants grown more ecologically. Results from the project will directly contribute to developing effective, affordable biological control for WFT, one of the most serious pests facing growers of greenhouse ornamentals. With proper marketing, this will also increase the value of the crop because it is IPM grown.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The guardian plant system using marigolds, a thrips sex pheromone lure, predatory mites and granular formulations of insect-killing fungi, will be tested to assess its effectiveness under commercial greenhouse conditions. Replicated trials in commercial bedding plant greenhouses will be conducted over 3 yrs to evaluate the effectiveness the system, testing two B. bassiana-based granular formulations, (GHA strain [the fungus in Botanigard] and a UVM experimental isolate). The following three treatments will be tested in 3 separate greenhouses at 6 different grower operations for around ME, NH and VT that struggle with recurring WFT outbreaks: (1) guardian plant with GHA, marigold plant with thrips pheromone lure, predatory mites, and granular fungal (GHA), (2) guardian plant with UVM experimental isolate, marigold plant with thrips pheromone lure, predatory mite releases, and granular fungal (UVM isolate) and (3) control with yellow sticky cards. Marigolds (var. Hero yellow) will be produced from seed under quarantine. Damage ratings of foliage on marigolds and adjacent crop plants will also be determined. Fungal concentrations in the soil will be tested prior and after the experiment and blossom samples will be taken to assess mite and thrips populations remaining in the blossoms. Yellow sticky cards are known to attract WFT therefore they will not be used in the fungal treatment houses, as this could disrupt guardian plant attractiveness. Yellow cards will be used in the control house as this is a standard means of assessing WFT populations. Clear sticky traps, made from clear plastic squares will be used in all houses to assess WFT populations without attracting them. Thrips populations on the guardian plant system and adjacent crop plants will be determined to evaluate the effectiveness of the system. In addition, the persistence of predatory mites over time will be monitored to determine how often they must be reapplied within the guardian plant system. The data generated will provide evidence to growers of the effectiveness of this guardian plant system to manage WFT without chemical pesticides.


3a

Environmental Protection Agency
Scouting to Reduce Chemical Pesticide Use in Greenhouse Ornamentals .

Principal Investigator: M. Skinner

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Growers of greenhouse ornamentals have historically been heavily reliant on chemical pesticides, largely because the protected environment in which they produce their crop is ideal for the population increase of plant damaging insects and diseases. Consumer demand for unblemished, pest-free flowering plants has slowed grower use of biological control and other integrated pest management (IPM) practices. IPM is a multifaceted approach to pest control that provides growers with solutions that reduce or eliminate pesticide use, yet growers feel they can not risk crop loss resulting from use of practices they believe may be less reliable. While all growers use some aspects of IPM, few fully utilize all practices available. To advance adoption of IPM, growers must buy in to the IPM concept. Now has never been a better time to promote the implementation of IPM by these growers. Concerns for the environment have been heightened by the threat of global warming; cancer and other lethal diseases have been linked to exposure to toxic agrochemicals and declining effectiveness of many pesticides suggests the development of pest resistance. Scouting, which includes multiple survey techniques (plant inspection, insect identification, disease diagnosis, testing of soil and water, etc.), is the cornerstone of any IPM program, yet few growers in Northern New England have established data-based programs to track conditions in their greenhouses. A lack of knowledge and shortage of time are the primary reasons that growers do not establish and carry out formal scouting programs. Through this project we will work with Northern New England growers to encourage implementation of scouting programs tailored to their individual operations. Growers will select one of their workers design and carry out the scouting program. They will receive training on how to scout and interpret the results correctly, and will be provided with assistance to develop their programs. Follow-up site visits and other outreach activities will be conducted with the growers and their workers to encourage adoption and ensure that the benefits of scouting in terms of reducing chemical use. This project will serve as a pilot project to assess the impact of this approach on IPM implementation, including increased use of biological controls and reduced use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Outcomes & Impacts:
This pilot project will help growers of greenhouse ornamentals in Northern New England establish formal scouting programs by training seasonal workers on pest and disease diagnosis and soil and water testing, thereby reducing grower use of agrochemicals and increase their adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) and biological control. Forty-five growers (15 per ME, NH & VT) with an interest in increasing their IPM implementation through establishment of a formalized scouting program will be selected. They will complete a questionnaire providing baseline information on their pest/disease problems, chemical use and level of IPM practice. Participants will sign a contract agreeing to identify one employee to invest 1-2 hrs weekly on scouting. This employee will take part in a 1-day training session coordinated by the project PIs to learn basics of pest identification and procedures for testing water and potting mix. Individualized scouting plans will be developed for each greenhouse operation, which the employees will implement. Training will be held in February 2012, the beginning of the northeast annual bedding plant season. Curriculum will include sections on establishing a scouting program, developing data sheets and entering the information, insect and damage identification, disease diagnosis and soil and water testing methods and nutrient deficiency symptoms. At the end, they will know how to look for and identify major arthropod pests and diseases they may encounter and be able to conduct pH and EC tests on water and potting soil and have a scouting plan designed for them and appropriate data sheets to record their information. For those with computer access and capabilities, an Excel-based data entry file will be set up and emailed to them allowing them to enter and graph the data they generate. The trainees will be encouraged to contact the project specialists regarding problems they are unable to identify and be instructed on the procedures for sending specimens for identification to state/university laboratories. Each trainee will receive a copy of the Greenhouse Managers Guide to IPM for Northern New England, which provides information on pests, diseases and nutrition problems. Within 3 wks after the training, each trainee will receive a follow up call from one of the Extension specialists to determine how the scouting is going. A listserv has been established among growers to encourage interaction among the group. Participating employees will be contacted regularly over the growing season to encourage continued scouting. This will provide opportunities to address pest/disease and nutrition issues that surface over time. It will also enable the project leaders to collect data on the impact of scouting in terms of reducing agrochemical use. In July-August 2012 participating growers and employees will be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the value of their scouting program in terms of reduced pesticide use and increased adoption of IPM. Data generated from this survey will be compared with the pre-training questionnaire to quantify the impact of scouting in general, and the usefulness of this pilot project.


3a

National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Fungi, Predatory Mites and Habitat Plants for Thrips IPM in Greenhouse Ornamentals .

Principal Investigator: M. Skinner

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Greenhouse ornamentals contribute significantly to the agricultural gross receipts of Northern New England and represent a lucrative way to diversify traditional crop production. Bedding plants are susceptible to thrips infestations, requiring growers to rely heavily on chemical insecticides and resistance has been observed. This project evaluates the use of entomopathogenic fungi and predatory mites together within a banker plant system to manage thrips. Marigolds are highly attractive to thrips and can be used for early detection and because they produce pollen, can serve as habitat for predatory mites by providing an alternative food source in absence of prey. The effectiveness of banker plants could be enhanced by incorporating insect-killing fungi in a granular formulation in the soil to target soil pupating thrips. This system will attract thrips from the crop and predatory mites will be sustained on the thrips and/or pollen. The fungus will further suppress soil pupating thrips. Together, this system could provide an innovative, ongoing, cost-effective and sustainable approach for the biological control of thrips greenhouse ornamentals. A final greenhouse cage trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of granular formulations of B. bassiana (Bb) combined with predatory mites, Neoseiulus cucumeris, within the marigold system. In addition a trial was conducted in a commercial greenhouse. The cage trial tested 4 treatments: 1. untreated control with no mites or fungi, 2. untreated control with mites only, 3. granular Bb GHA strain (the Botanigard strain) without mites, and 4. granular Bb GHA strain (the Botanigard strain) with mites. The same 4 treatments were tested in 3 greenhouses at 3 commercial operations. The granular formulations were applied to the top 3 cm of potting soil around the marigold plants, at a rate of 4 gm per 122.7 sq. cm pot in the cage trial and 13.2 gm per 201.1 sq. cm. pot for the greenhouse trials. The granular formulations were produced on millet grain. The trials were conducted over 10 wk in February and March. The relative abundance of thrips and mites was determined every 2 wks for 10 wks in both trials by tapping marigolds over a piece of laminated white paper. Soil samples were taken at the end of the trial to determined fungal persistence. Blossom samples were taken twice during the experiments to obtain the absolute number of mites and thrips abundance. Research results were reported to greenhouse growers, researchers, Extension specialists and State Department of Agriculture personnel during our annual Tri-state greenhouse IPM workshops held January 2011in ME, NH and VT.

Outcomes & Impacts:
In the first 2 yr of the caged trials it was found that the marigold system using mycotized millet grains incorporated into the potting soil effectively maintained low thrips populations over a 10-wk period. Over 85 percent of thrips that emerged from the fungal-treated soil were infected. In year 3 predatory mites were added to the marigold plant in combination with the fungal soil treatment. Results demonstrated the added effectiveness of combining these two biocontrol agents. After 10 weeks, fewer thrips were found on the marigolds in which mites and the fungus were combined, than all of the other treatments (29 thrips per plant vs 59-74 per plant for the other treatments). By the end of the trial, plants in the control treatment were dead due to extensive thrips feeding. Plant damage was significantly lower in treatments that contained mites than in those without mites. Blossom sample data revealed that mites were present 10 wks after they were released, though it was difficult to detect them with plant tapping. This shows that they can be sustained within the marigold system by feeding on thrips and pollen. Fewer thrips were found in blossoms from treatments with mites compared to those without mites. This treatment was more effective than either the GR or mite treatments alone. It should be further noted that the combination of granules and mites was easier to apply to the guardian plant system than foliar spray/mite combination. The results from the caged trials suggest that combining predatory mites greatly enhances management of thrips within the marigold system and reduces foliar damage. In the commercial greenhouse trials, over a 10 wk period in general more thrips were observed on the marigolds alone than on those in which the fungus and mites were added. Similar levels of control were observed for the treatment that combined the granular fungus and mites and the mite only treatment. Evidence of fungal persistence in the soil after 12 wk was observed. Further assessment in commercial settings is needed before this novel system can be distributed widely to growers. Based on the 2011 Tri-state IPM workshops exit evaluations, 89 percent of responding growers said they learned new techniques they intend to use in the future, and 84 percent stated they made new contacts. Many mentioned disease diagnosis, using pest life cycles to time release of beneficial, and banker plants as new techniques they learned. Growers ranked the workshop at 4.2 out of 5, similar to the workshops held last year. Participants were asked if they used biological control in their operation last year; 58 percent said yes. Of those who used biological control, 79 percent used predators; 40 percent nematodes, 50 percent parasites, 15 percent insect-killing fungi, 12 percent disease killing microbes (soil treatments) and 11percent insect-killing bacteria. Around 22 percent used some form of plant-mediated IPM system, often marigolds as indicator or trap plants.


3a

Organic Farming Research Foundation
Fungi, Predatory Mites and Guardian Plants for Thrips IPM in Organic Greenhouse Ornamentals .

Principal Investigator: M. Skinner

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Greenhouse-grown crops contribute significantly to the agricultural gross receipts of VT and represent a lucrative way to diversify traditional production. Greenhouse crops are particularly susceptible to thrips infestations, and organic growers have few options for their control. For this reason, many organic growers feel obliged to suspend their organic certification on the greenhouse ornamentals they produce. This project tested a novel approach for integrated pest management (IPM) of thrips in a commercial greenhouse of organically-grown plants, combining predatory mites, a granular form of insect-killing fungi and marigolds into one effective guardian plant system. The system is based on the assumption that adult thrips will be attracted out of the crop to the flowering marigolds, where they will become established. The immature thrips will serve as prey for the predatory mite, Neoseiulus cucumeris, sustaining them and encouraging their dispersal through the crop. Thrips escaping predation will drop to the soil to pupate, where they will become infected with fungi. The granular formulation will enable the fungus to colonize the potting mix, eliminating the need for reapplication. This represents a low-cost, organic approach, achieving thrips IPM through a holistic system: ATTRACT, SUSTAIN & KILL. Because fungal treatments and mite releases are applied to the guardian plants rather than the entire crop, management costs will be reduced, while control is maximized. Many questions remain regarding the suitability of this system for organic growers, and thus funding was requested to repeat the study to further assess its effectiveness. Results from the project were reported at the annual tri-state greenhouse IPM workshops held in ME, NH and VT. All tests were conducted in a commercial greenhouse setting allowing evaluation under real world conditions.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The marigold GPS was tested in three greenhouses of organic vegetables: Trt. 1) GPS: marigolds with predatory mites and fungi, Trt. 2) IND: marigolds with predatory mites only; Trt. 3) Control: no marigolds or biological controls. For Trt. 1, slow-release sachets of predatory mites were hung on the marigolds, and replaced once over the experiment. The potting mix was treated with a granular fungal formulation once before placing them in the greenhouse. For Trt. 2, predatory mite sachets only were used on the marigold. For 12 wks the number of thrips and mites on yellow sticky cards, marigold GPS and a random selection of crop plants were counted biweekly. Flower samples from the GPS were taken after 6 and 12 weeks to count predatory mite and thrips populations. Thrips samples were tested for fungal infection at the end of the experiment. Thrips populations were higher in the IND greenhouse than in the GPS greenhouse. More mites and thrips were present in the marigold blossoms than on foliage with lower numbers of thrips occurring in blossoms that had the fungus and mite treatment. Thrips numbers were also lower overall on sticky traps in the fungus/mite greenhouse than the house with predatory mites alone. Thrips were found to be infected with fungus at the end of the experiment and fungal growth was consistent throughout the experiment duration on the soil surface. These results demonstrate the potential of the marigold GPS as a useful tool for thrips management in organic greenhouses. The grower with whom we collaborated is now using marigolds to attract thrips out of his vegetable plants based on the positive results he observed during this trial.


3a

Hatch
Climate range expansion during colonization of a major crop pest, Colorado Potato Beetle .

Principal Investigator: Y. Chen

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Hatch progress report The overall goal of this proposal is to examine how climatic and biotic factors have influenced the geographic range expansion of Colorado potato beetle (CPB), and to forecast how climate change may influence the abundance and distribution of beetle populations in the future. In Objective 1, we are examining beetle population genetic structure and the extent of gene flow throughout the US and Mexico. We have sampled CPB populations from 6 states within Mexico (Jalisco, Morelos, Texcoco, Tlaxcala, Guerrero, Queretaro, Puebla), and from seven US states (WI, MA , KS, MD, VT, VA and ME). We have optimized 8 microsatellite loci, and have begun genotyping our samples. We are also sequencing CPB mtDNA and other nuclear markers, in order to determine the relationship between ancestral and derived pest populations. Objective 2 is focused on how natal climatic conditions affect the ability of beetle populations to respond to novel climatic conditions. We are using 3 Mexican and 2 US beetle populations to assess their overwintering capability in Vermont. We induced beetles to diapause or hibernate in the lab prior to placing them in mesocosms, but this resulted in higher mortality in the field. Prompted by the very high level of mortality last year, we have revised our diapause induction protocol and are rearing them on plants outside, where they can be exposed to ambient light and climatic conditions. Diapausing beetles will be secured in soil mesocosms and inserted below ground in field margins and field areas at the UVM Horticultural Research Farm. The mesocosms will be extracted in the spring of 2012 to assess overwintering survivorship. In Objective 3, we are examining how geographic origin affects beetle ecophysiological adaptations to temperate climates. We now have complete data on supercooling points from five different beetle populations. Supercooling points are physiological indicators of beetle cold tolerance. We will disseminate the results to other entomologists through scholarly publications and presentations at national meetings.

Outcomes & Impacts:
One of the most interesting findings for us is to see that there is geographic variation among beetle populations in ecophysiological traits. This means that beetles may have undergone significant evolutionary change in order to adapt to northern climatic conditions. However, one recent finding that has yet to be substantiated further through study is that there appears to be variation among Mexican populations for cold tolerance. Given that we are in year 2 of this award, we anticipate that our results will help to provide greater understanding on the extreme success of CPB as a pest of potatoes globally. The beetle is highly unusual in that it originates from the subtropical highlands, and is now invading into the Arctic Circle. We anticipate that understanding the ecological and evolutionary forces that have promoted its success will help us to better understand how novel technologies can be used to control it. By developing alternative non-insecticidal means of controlling this highly invasive pest, we hope that our research will benefit potato farmers within the northern hemisphere. Stakeholders (farmers, research specialists, IPM practitioners) need assistance because this is one of the oldest and notoriously damaging pests. Attempts to control the beetle started the pesticide industry. Yet, the beetle has been enormously successful in evolving resistance to all the major pesticide chemistries. In order to develop lasting sustainable solutions, it is really important to understand the nature of the beetles success in northern potato agroecosystems, and develop strategies to undermine that success.Given that we are in year 2 of this award, we anticipate that our results will help to provide greater understanding on the extreme success of CPB as a pest of potatoes globally. The beetle is highly unusual in that it originates from the subtropical highlands, and is now invading into the Arctic Circle. We anticipate that understanding the ecological and evolutionary forces that have promoted its success will help us to better understand how novel technologies can be used to control it. By developing alternative non-insecticidal means of controlling this highly invasive pest, we hope that our research will benefit potato farmers within the northern hemisphere. Stakeholders (farmers, research specialists, IPM practitioners) need assistance because this is one of the oldest and notoriously damaging pests. Attempts to control the beetle started the pesticide industry. Yet, the beetle has been enormously successful in evolving resistance to all the major pesticide chemistries. In order to develop lasting sustainable solutions, it is really important to understand the nature of the beetles success in northern potato agroecosystems, and develop strategies to undermine that success.


3a

Hatch/Multistate
Discovery of Entomopathogens and Their Integration and Safety in Pest Management Systems .

Principal Investigator: M. Skinner

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Greenhouse ornamentals contribute significantly to the agricultural gross receipts of VT and represent a lucrative way to diversify traditional crop production. Bedding plants are susceptible to thrips infestations, requiring growers to rely heavily on chemical insecticides and resistance has been observed. This project evaluates the use of entomopathogenic fungi and predatory mites together within a banker plant system to manage thrips. Marigolds are highly attractive to thrips and can be used for early detection and because they produce pollen, can serve as habitat for predatory mites by providing an alternative food source in absence of prey. We will enhance banker plant effectiveness by incorporating entomopathogenic fungi in a granular formulation in the soil to target soil pupating thrips. This system will attract thrips from the crop and predatory mites will be sustained on the thrips and/or pollen. Entomopathogenic fungi will further suppress soil-pupating thrips. Together, this system may be able to provide an innovative, ongoing, cost-effective and sustainable approach for the biological control of thrips greenhouse ornamentals. In year 4, a final greenhouse cage trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of granular formulations of Beauveria bassiana (Bb) combined with predatory mites, Neoseiulus cucumeris, within the marigold system. Six treatments were tested in the caged trials: 1. untreated control with no mites or fungi, 2. untreated control with mites only, 3. granular Bb GHA strain (the Botanigard strain) without mites, 4. granular Bb GHA strain (the Botanigard strain) with mites, 5. granular experimental (exp.) Bb strain without mites, 6. granular exp. Bb strain with mites. In addition the first commercial greenhouse trial was conducted in which the most effective fungi from the caged trials were used in combination with predatory mites. Four treatments were tested within 3 greenhouses in 3 different greenhouse operations. Granular formulations, produced on millet, were applied to the top 3 cm of potting soil around the marigold plants, at a rate of 4 gm per 122.7 sq. cm pot in the cage trial and 13.2 gm/201.1 sq. cm. pot in the greenhouse trials. The trials were conducted for 10 wks in February and March. The abundance of thrips and mites was counted every 2 wks by tapping marigolds over a laminated piece of white paper. Thrips samples were obtained from the soil and foliage to assess fungal infection rates. Blossom samples were taken to further assess mite and thrips abundance. Research results were reported to greenhouse growers, researchers, Extension specialists and State Department of Agriculture personnel during the annual Tri-state greenhouse IPM workshops held January 2011 in ME, NH and VT. The commercial greenhouse trial will be repeated in the coming year.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The following findings were obtained in the first 2 yr of the caged trials: 1. The marigold system using mycotized millet grains incorporated into the potting soil effectively maintained low thrips populations over a 10-wk period, 2. over 85 percent of thrips adults that emerged from the fungal-treated soil were infected, 3. the 2 experimental isolates were significantly more effective in terms of reducing plant damage and thrips populations than the commercial isolate (GHA) and the controls. The results clearly demonstrated the efficacy against thrips of the exp. granular fungal treatments in the soil. In years 3 and 4 predatory mites were added to the marigold plant in combination with fungi in the soil. Results demonstrated the added effectiveness of combining these two biocontrol agents. For the caged trial, after 10 weeks, fewer thrips were found on the marigolds in which mites and the exp. fungus were combined, than all of the other treatments (29 thrips per plant vs 59-74 per plant for the other treatments. By the end of the trial, plants in the control treatment were dead due to extensive thrips feeding. Similar numbers of thrips were observed on the plants in the two fungal treatments (exp. Bb and GHA) without the mites. In addition, similar numbers of thrips were found in all of the treatments in which mites were used. This suggests that combining predatory mites greatly enhances management of thrips within the marigold system. Plant damage was significantly lower in treatments that contained mites than in those without mites. Blossom sample data revealed that mites were present 10 wks after they were released, though it was difficult to detect them with plant tapping. This suggests that they can be sustained within the marigold system by feeding on thrips and pollen. Fewer thrips were found in blossoms from treatments with mites compared to those without mites. In the commercial greenhouse trials, more thrips were observed on control treatments than fungus and mite treatments. Similar levels of control were observed for the 3 treatments that contained combinations of granular fungus and mites and the mite only treatment. Evidence of fungal persistence in the soil after 10 wk was observed.


3a

Hatch/Multistate
Practical Management of SCN and Other Nematodes of Regional Importance: With Special Reference to Invasive Biology .

Principal Investigator: D. Neher

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is the major yield-limiting pathogen of soybean, a crop that contributes $18 billion annually to the economy of the nation. The objective is to better understand and apply the concepts of invasion biology as revealed by SCN epidemiology. In collaboration with Minnesota, Vermont launched a 4-year field experiment arranged in a split-plot design conducted in two locations in Waseca County in Southern Minnesota. The experiment is a split-plot design with no-till and conventional tillage as main plots, and five crop sequence-biocide treatments as subplots. We are in season 3 of a 4-year project, having collected samples at planting, midseason and harvest. The Vermont team is characterizing extracellular enzyme activity of saprophytic microbes and the free-living nematode community to better understand biological mechanisms of natural disease suppression. Year 2 results are reported here, and Year 3 samples are yet to be processed in the laboratory.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Year 2 results support those of Year 1, demonstrating a cumulative effect of the treatments. Both fields showed the same trends for soil microbial extracellular enzyme activity and composition of soil nematode communities. A larger number of extracellular enzymes were active in the second year, demonstrating activity related to disease suppression. Soil containing no-tilled, continuous cropping of soybeans resulted in greater levels of enzymatic activity in most cases except sulphatase. Based on enzyme activity profiles, we hypothesize that induced resistance and enzymatic degradation of the nematode cuticle are likely mechanisms of natural SCN suppression. Certainly, enzyme secretion from fungi plays a major role. Nematode diversity and abundance of plant-parasitic nematodes were greater in the no-till than cultivated soils. A plant-parasitic nematode that does not cause disease on soybean, Helicotylenchus, was more abundant than the SCN plant-parasitic nematode, Heterodera glycines, in both years. This suggests that the two nematodes occupy the same ecological niche and compete with each other. Natural suppression of SCN disease symptoms is likely suppressed by a combination of competition by other plant-parasitic nematodes and parasitism by residential soil fungi.

Publications:
Bao, Y., Neher, D.A., and Chen, S. 2011. Effect of soil disturbance and biocides on nematode communities and extracellular enzyme activity in soybean cyst nematode suppressive soil. Nematology 13:687-699.


3a

Hatch/Multistate
Plant-Parasitic Nematode Management as a Component of Sustainable Soil Health Programs in Horticultural and Field Crop Production Systems .

Principal Investigator: D. Neher

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The objective is to evaluate cultural management procedures for plant-parasitic nematodes in relation to their impacts on the sustainability of soil health. A two-year demonstration on use of compost for management of plant pathogens and weed seeds was conducted in partnership with Highfields Center for Composting. On-farm field trials were conducted at Intervale Community Farm (Burlington, Vermont) and Riverside Farm (East Hardwick, Vermont) on mixed vegetables. At each location, experiments were designed as a completely randomized block design. Treatments included 1) manure similar to what farmers create (not to recipe), 2) proper recipe with hay, 3) proper recipe with softwood, 4) proper recipe with hardwood, 5) rice hulls (not composted), and 6) bare soil (control). Incidence and severity of early blight disease was monitored throughout the growing season.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Compost made to recipe and reaching target temperatures killed both giant crab grass seed and Alternaria, an early blight pathogen on brassica crops. Kill was more complete in mesh than solid plastic bags indicating that a combination of microbes and heat are responsible. Kill was achieved after reaching NOFA-Vermont standards for making compost and remained through final stages of the thermophilic and curing phases of compost production. Microbial communities started the composting process with a relative dominance of species that produced hydrolytic and urease as extracellular enzymes and were followed successionally by an increase in production of oxidative enzymes. In the field trials, disease incidence and severity increased as the season progressed at both farms. The study was terminated at the Intervale Farm at the end of August due to flooding by tropical storm Irene. Post-Irene, the severity and incidence of disease at Riverside Farm increased exponentially. There were not clear patterns of the impact of compost recipe at Intervale. At Riverside, there was a trend that hardwood compost suppressed disease severity and reduced splash of pathogen spores more than the other compost recipes or controls. There was no difference observed between the two types of controls, so we conclude that the physical barrier of compost made less difference than the microbial composition of the material. This project will provide management options that improve the quality of agricultural soils and prevent nutrient runoff into surface water.

Publications:
Bao, Y., and Neher, D.A. 2011. Survey of lesion and northern root-knot nematodes associated with vegetables in Vermont. Nematropica 41: 98-106.


3a

Hatch/Multistate
Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds .

Principal Investigator: B. Parker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is the greatest exotic invasive threat to trees in our urban communities, and to sugar maples and other hardwood tree species in our deciduous forests. The ALB infestation in Worchester, MA is less than 50 miles from the Vermont/New Hampshire border. The USDA remains committed to eliminating this pest from the US and early detection is the key to minimizing its impact and successful eradication or biological control. The urgency to step up efforts to detect ALB has never been greater. Previous research in China has shown that one species of maple, Acer mono, is significantly more attractive to ALB than other maple species. Although some nurseries in the US stock A. mono it is not commonly planted in New England. There is concern among some scientists that A. mono itself may have an invasive potential. This project is designed to evaluate multiple growth factors of A. mono in different coldhardiness zones to assess its invasive potential and develop methods for its safe and ecological use for early detection of ALB. Results from this research will document the coldhardiness of A. mono and define the suitable range for its use as a sentinel tree in terms of low winter temperatures. It will also provide guidelines for how best to grow the tree to facilitate its use as a sentinel tree and provide evidence regarding the invasive threat posed by A. mono. Strategies for deploying A. mono as a sentinel tree will be developed based on the results, taking into consideration tree survival, ease of deployment and invasive characteristics, paving the way to wide scale use regionally. Results will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publications, trade journals and news releases in popular media, such as newspapers, magazines and TV.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Two sub-objectives will be addressed within this project to evaluate the suitability of A. mono as an ALB sentinel tree. For Obj. 1 two planting methods for the Acer mono sentinel tree system in three USDA plant coldhardiness zones will be evaluated. To be effective, a sentinel tree should be easy to transport and care for at the survey site. For example, forest pest managers might want to monitor sites vulnerable to ALB infestation (urban centers, ports or shipping yards) where planting a tree in the ground is difficult. It might be more convenient to maintain the tree in a pot. Two growing methods are being tested: above and below ground in Smart Pot grow bags (High Caliper Growing Systems). These are fabric plant containers commonly used in tree nurseries that are easy to dig up and move. They are designed to release heat and root prune the tree's root structure, producing trees that grow better without root circling. Several growth parameters are being assessed to determine the suitability of A. mono as a sentinel tree in no. New England (coldtolerance, insect/disease susceptibility). Trees were deployed in three coldhardiness zones 3, 4 and 5 in New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Research sites are generally located in State or municipal parks or nature centers to ensure the trees are regularly inspected and cared for. Display boards were erected describing the project and alerting the public to the threat of ALB. Trees were inspected at the end of the summer and to date all of the trees have survived and are doing well. A special system for protecting the trees from brouwsing by deer was developed and used on all of the trees. A review of the literature on A. mono and its invasiveness is underway.


3b

National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Facilitating the Development of Stakeholder-Driven, Performance-Based Policies for Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Control .

Principal Investigator: R. Parsons

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The pinnacle of this project's activities was the national workshop on pay-for-performance conservation held in Washington, DC during July 20-21, 2011. The workshop was co-located with the Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Meeting. The focus was on taking the lessons learned over the 5 years of this project and working with scientists and stakeholders from around the country to develop policy options for the 2012 Farm Bill. Approximately 70 people participated in this two-day event, which included farmer and agricultural group panels to share their experience and perspective with this concept. Four breakout groups were tasked with developing options for the implementation of pay-for-performance conservation (i.e. performance-based incentives) either within existing conservation programs (inside the box brainstorming) or as part of new conservation programs (outside the box brainstorming). The workshop produced a comprehensive set of policy options that have been distributed to over 700 persons via email. Earlier in the year, the project finalized recommendations for the use of performance-based incentives in the Cannon River Watershed of Minnesota. Also during this final reporting period, the project facilitated the development of recommendations for the Jobos Bay watershed in Puerto Rico. This was done in partnership with the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the University of Puerto Rico. As in Minnesota, Puerto Rico's USDA State Conservationist participated in the development of these recommendations, which indicates high-level interest in the approach of performance-based incentives. As reported in previous years, this project produced and distributed a large set of progressively more detailed information on the use of performance-based incentives for agricultural pollution control. This set included a descriptive pamphlet, a booklet on the process of developing science-based, stakeholder-driven recommendations, the results of watershed-level pilot-testing, and three journal articles. A video that conveys the concept, as well as the project's successes is in the final stages of production and will be made available via the internet. The project worked directly with scores of groups in 12 watersheds to help move agricultural pollution control in the direction of greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Outcomes & Impacts:
This project, like most National Facilitation projects, reached thousands of people both directly and indirectly. Through its website, www.flexincentives.com, the project has been contacted by dozens of interested watershed coordinators and interested stakeholders to find out if and how the concept of performance-based incentives can be developed in their watersheds. Some of these contacts have led to on-going grass-roots projects to further the concept and apply it locally. The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service is aware of this project and in a meeting stated that the approach of performance-based incentives could be a great help to the Conservation Stewardship Program. The Chief has assigned several of his Deputies to continue discussions with this project's staff and partners to explore how to further this concept. The single most important outcome of the project may be that conservation staffers from both the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees recently requested language for the next farm bill on how the concept of pay-for-performance conservation could be utilized more fully.

Publications:
Winsten, J.R., C. Baffaut, J. Britt, T. Borisova, C. Ingels, and S. Brown. 'Performance-based Incentives for Agricultural Pollution Control: Identifying and Assessing Performance Measures in the United States.' Water Policy 13(5):677-692. 2011.

Winsten, Jonathan R. and Hunter, Mitch. 'Using pay-for-performance conservation to address the challenges of the next farm bill.' Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 66(4):111A-117A. 2011.


3b

National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Improving Agricultural Pollution Control through Performance-based Incentives in the Choptank River Watershed of the Chesapeake Bay .

Principal Investigator: R. Parsons

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Year 3 of the project (October 2010 to September 2011) included the end of the project's second field season. During the second field season, the project doubled the number of fields (from 1 to 2 on each participating farm) where environmental performance was being assessed. The second field sites were chosen to provide a greater variety of conditions; the criteria for selection included different crop rotations, nutrient and field management, and soil types, as well as other factors, relative the farm's first field. The project's priority focus had become nitrogen (N) by this time, due to (1) the increasing recognition of the importance in controlling N loss from agriculture for the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and (2) the identified deficits of the Maryland Phosphorus (P) Site Index for use as a performance measure for P loss. The project quantified N performance using the Fall Soil Nitrate Test (FSNT) and P performance using the P Site Index for the selected fields on each participating farm. These measurements were taken by Jim Lewis and Jenny Rhodes of UMD Extension. The FSNT and P Site Index results showed improvement on most of the farms relative the previous year. The project rewarded the participating producers a total of $9,800 for their quantified environmental performance. This ranged from a low of $800 to a high of $2,000 per farm. Additionally, Dr. Tom Fisher and his staff from UMD Horn Point Lab measured phosphate, ammonia, and nitrate concentrations on the fields of 4 of the farms. The project held two meetings during the year. One was focused on obtaining input from the farmers and sharing experiences with the use of performance-based incentives. The other meeting was to inform the broader stakeholder group and solicit input. The project participated in the Policy Conference for CB in March 2011; the projects work was highlighted in presentations by Dr. Jim Shortle and Dr. Marc Ribaudo. The project team also developed an innovative idea to improve the cost-effectiveness of the MD Cover Crop cost-share program by rewarding farmers for quantified N performance using the FSNT and allowing them to determine (in August) which of their fields actually need a winter cover crop to absorb excess N. The project developed a poster to highlight this idea. The poster was presented at the Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Meeting in DC in July and at the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration in Baltimore in August.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The single most important outcome from this reporting period is that each of the participating farmers now understands the importance of knowing the amount of residual N in the soil of each field near the end of the growing season to determine on which fields a cover crop is necessary to absorb excess N and prevent nitrate losses. By knowing this information in late August, the producers have the option of flying on (aerial application) cover crop seed into a standing crop of corn or beans. This early application of the cover crop allows for early establishment, greater growth, and more N absorption from the soil. By being rewarded for progressively lower FSNT values, measured in November (when N loss starts to become much more prevalent), the farmers have examined many different actions that they can take throughout the year to reduce residual N. Such actions include reduced N application rates, changing application methods, changing crop rotations, and other changes. The project's outreach on this approach has reached an estimated 300 people by presenting the poster at two large conferences during this reporting period.


3b

Department of Agriculture USDA
Evaluation of Current Landfill Conditions in Vermont Rural Areas and Providing Training to Help Landfill Operators Reduce Threats to Water Resources .

Principal Investigator: A. Drizo

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Vermont (VT) landfills have been traditionally located in close proximity to rivers and streams. Leachate discharges from these sites can represent a potential surface and ground water contamination risk for nearby communities and the surrounding environment. Following the passage of Act 1978 in 1987, the majority of the landfill sites were closed in the early 1990s and operators were required to continue monitoring and maintaining sites for 20 years after the date of closure. In the next few years, the first unlined landfill sites will complete their mandatory 20 year monitoring period and the VT Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will have to make new regulatory decisions regarding these sites. Therefore the major purpose of this project is to evaluate landfill runoff, leachate, surface and ground water and soil quality and to identify biological indicators in order to assist landfill operators and regulatory agencies with evaluating potential environmental and health risks from closed landfill sites. To date, we have conducted thorough sampling and assessment of water and soil quality at four landfill sites (i) Bethel-Royalton, ii) Bridgewater, iii) Tunbridge and Randolph, iv) lined and v) unlined) in order to determine potential threats to water resources from two different types of rural landfill sites in Vermont: sites without protective liners to prevent leaching (i-iv) and sites with impermeable liners and impermeable clay or synthetic caps (v). Based on environmental assessment data and on additional economic variables, we are currently 1) conducting economic evaluation of the current and alternative remediation practices that can minimize pollution threats from landfill sites; and 2) providing training in the form of a technical assistance workshop for municipal officials and operators of landfills, thereby assisting with the development and implementation of closure plans, future land use plans, safety and maintenance planning, and closure scheduling within permit requirements.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The major findings from this project include the discovery of elevated nutrient levels in several of the groundwater samples taken from monitoring wells down gradient from the unlined landfills (LF) monitored by this study. Bethel-Royalton LF exhibited very elevated ammonia (NH3-N) concentrations in groundwater samples taken at monitoring wells located at the edge of landfill (avg 40.5 mg/L) and in an adjacent commercial lot (3.8 mg/L). Average dissolved phosphorus (PO4) concentrations were similar in all wells (ranging from 0.03-0.08 mg/L), thus exceeding the critical PO4 concentrations for incipient eutrophication of 0.005-0.01 mg/l PO4-P for still water. Nitrate (N03-N) levels were notably high (avg 1.5 mg/L) in a single well upgrade from the landfill. Groundwater samples obtained from Bridgewater LF monitoring wells revealed relatively low average NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N concentrations ranging from 0.07-.54, 0.03-0.05, and 0.06-0.18 mg/L, respectively. Surface water samples taken at four runoff sites showed NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N concentrations ranging from 0.02-0.12, 0.03-0.04, and 0.01-0.6 mg/L, respectively. An elevated N03-N level of 2.6 mg/L was revealed in one sample of surface water (SW3) at the outfall of down gradient runoff into the Ottauquechee River, indicating a potential environmental threat from this landfill site. The Tunbridge LF was monitored via three groundwater wells and two surface water sample sites, including a seep down gradient from the landfill and the outfall of this seep into Russel Brook. Nutrient (NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N) levels were relatively low, with average concentrations ranging from 0.1-0.3, 0.02-0.03 and 0.04-0.06 mg/L, respectively. Surface water samples revealed NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N levels averaging 1.9, 0.02 and 0.4 mg/L, respectively, for the groundwater seep (SW1), indicating a potential groundwater pollution threat to Russel Brook, where levels averaged 0.2, 0.03 and 0.6 mg/L for NH3-N, PO4-P, and N03-N. The Randolph LF contains an unlined and lined LF and both were monitored as part of this project. Lined LF groundwater samples taken from monitoring wells showed revealed average NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N levels ranging from 0.04-0.08, 0.05-0.10 and 0.02-0.5 mg/L, respectively. Leachate samples from four collection tanks showed average NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N levels ranged from 112-805, 0.03-0.8 and 0.04-5.4 mg/L, respectively. Ammonia levels measured in leachate are very high and the current management strategy for LF leachate is to pump out the collection tanks and truck the leachate to the nearby waste water treatment plant for processing. Groundwater samples taken from monitoring wells around the unlined landfill showed average NH3-N, PO4, and N03-N ranging from 0.8-16, 0.04-0.06, and 0.03-0.3 mg/L, suggesting a potential environmental threat to groundwater and nearby surface water. In order to disseminate results from environmental and economic assessment, we will organize a training workshop for stakeholders, including municipal officials, LF operators and VT Solid Waste Management Department with a goal to assist with the development and implementation of closure and land use plans.


3b

Natural Resources Conservation Service/Department of Agriculture
Phosphorus and E. Coli Reduction from Silage Leachate via Innovative Steel Slag Filtration .

Principal Investigator: A. Drizo

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project was to perform an in-field evaluation of a silage leachate treatment system employing steel slag filters (SSF) to enhance pollutant reduction on a Vermont (VT) dairy farm. We have conducted thorough water quality, soils and biota monitoring and analysis which enabled us to: i) evaluate the performance of the complete treatment system consisting of three evaporative bark treatment (EBT) beds, three SSF berms and a vegetative buffer strip (VFS); ii) conduct a comparison of SSF berm treatment performance with the evaporative bark treatment (EBT) system and with the vegetative filter strip (VFS), which are the two best management practices (BMPs) recommended by the regulatory agency, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) for use to reduce pollution from silage leachate runoff in VT. Overall, by conducting a complete assessment of a novel treatment technology in reducing pollution from silage leachate, this project helped fill the technology gap that currently exists in terms of nutrient, pathogens, organic matter and suspended solids removal from agricultural runoff, addressing the significant environmental, educational and economic risks facing both VT and wider U.S. agriculture and water sectors. In October of 2009, we began the project by performing water sampling of silage runoff in various stages of the silage leachate treatment system. We have continued to sample during significant rain and snowmelt events throughout 2010 and 2011. In December of 2009, we began working with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) Solid Waste Management (SWM) Division for permitting and approval via beneficial use determination (BUD) for the use of steel slag material for the treatment of agricultural point and non point source pollution. We have shared our findings with farmers and regulatory agencies (the funding agency USDA NRCS through semi-annual reports, ANR DEC and VAAFM through meetings and communications via e-mails) who are the principal stakeholders in this project.

Outcomes & Impacts:
A preliminary evaluation of the silage treatment system performed during four rain and snowmelt occasions during winter of 2009 and 2010 showed large variation in system treatment performance: 36 to 79% reduction in dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), 39 to 84% reduction in E.Coli, 70 to 93% reduction of total suspended solids (TSS), ~ 30% reduction in biological oxygen demand (BOD). The evaluation of the silage leachate system treatment performance over 11 stormwater events that occurred between September 28, 2010 and September 15th 2011, revealed that the entire treatment system (consisting of three EBTs and three SSFs and a VF) showed excellent treatment efficiency in reducing dissolved phosphorus, total suspended solids, E.coli and organic matter (BOD) by 83.1, 77.9, 62.9 and 61.2 %, respectively. In addition, analyses of the water quality before and after individual system components showed that: i) a single EBT bed reduced DRP, TSS, E.coli and BOD by 58.2, 60.8, 58.9, and 36 %, respectively; ii) the addition of a single SSF berm improved DRP and BOD reductions to 72.6% and 54.7 %, respectively, while TSS and E.coli reductions remained the same; iii) three EBT beds and three SSF berms achieved DRP, TSS, E.coli and BOD reductions of 83.1, 42.0, 60.2 and 69.8 %, respectively; and iv) most interestingly, while the contribution of a pre-existing vegetative buffer (consisting of local grasses) to DRP, E.coli and BOD reduction was negligible (less than 5%), it improved TSS reduction by 36.5%. Overall, by conducting a complete assessment of a novel treatment system for reducing pollution from silage leachate, this project generated specific nutrient, pathogen, organic matter and suspended solids reduction data for three possible management practices (evaporative beds, vegetative buffers, and steel slag filtration). The stakeholders (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Agency of Natural resources, US Department of Agriculture) are currently seeking best management practices to reduce phosphorus and suspended solids loading to Lake Champlain. This need has never been more urgent than today, given the current governmental efforts in the revision of the total maximum daily loads required by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency since January 2011.


3b

Vermont ANR Department of Environment Conservation
Phosphorus, Escherichia Coli and Suspended Solids Reduction from Agricultural Tile Drainage via Steel Slag Filtration .

Principal Investigator: A. Drizo

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The main purpose of this project was to monitor phosphorus transport in agricultural tile drains and to develop and evaluate a steel slag-based filter system designed to reduce this source of phosphorus pollution as a potential best management practice in Vermont. The project site is located on Nordic Bean Farm in Charlotte, VT on an agricultural field planted with alfalfa and hay, with Vergennes clay soil type. The most significant accomplishments of this project are that we i) provided new scientific evidence and confirmed findings by other researchers worldwide that the use of subsurface tile drains to improve drainage on agricultural fields can provide a pathway for transport large amounts of phosphorus and suspended solids to surrounding waters. ii) successfully demonstrated that the Steel Slag Filtration System (PhosphoReduc) implemented on tile drained clay soils has the potential to significantly reduce phosphorus and suspended solids load to surrounding waters. iii) we have gained acceptable use approval for the filtration material beneficial use in water pollution control from the Vermont regulatory agencies. We currently have a collaborative pilot project with the USDA ARS Ohio, where two steel slag filters (in replicate) have been implemented to treat combined agricultural and urban runoff that drains to a stormwater pond on a golf course in Columbus, OH. This project will help us to collect additional evidence on the PhosphoReduc system efficiency in treating pollution from agricultural and urban stormwater outlets. Our major recommendation is for further testing of SSF technology, ideally on a slightly larger scale, on a different soil type in agricultural fields within Vermont.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Overall, the major findings and conclusions from this project are: i) Agricultural tile drainage runoff can represent a significant contribution to eutrophication. Although there was no manure application on the fields (due to the excessive flooding in April) average dissolved phosphorus concentrations exceeded critical values of 0.1-0.2 mg/L that can trigger eutrophication. Total phosphorus concentrations were also high (average 0.41 mg/L). ii) Agricultural tile drainage discharges significant volumes of runoff in the spring (average 4.21 cubic meter per storm event, thus intensive water quality monitoring using automatic flow measurements and sampling equipment is a prerequisite in the evaluation of the best management practices effectiveness in reducing pollution loads. iii) Simple grab sampling does not represent a true measure of the actual phosphorus loading from agricultural tile drainage discharges. iv) Employment of automatic flow equipment enabled us to assess P loading (calculated as concentration multiplied by runoff volumes for each storm event) for each storm event. The findings revealed that average dissolved phosphorus loading (for 10 spring storm events) nearly reached 1 g of dissolved phosphorus, the limit sufficient to promote growth of approximately 100 g of algae. When these algae die, decomposition processes result in an oxygen demand of about 150 g. Moreover, cumulative dissolved phosphorus loading exceeded the limit 9 fold. v) Agricultural tile drainage makes significant contribution to total suspended solids loading to nearby water resources, averaging 0.373 kg for 10 storm events and resulting in a total cumulative load of 3.73 kg. vi) The implementation of a PhosphoReduc system having a pore volume of 0.90 m3 and containing approximately 180 kg steel slag filtration material achieved the nonpoint pollution reduction objectives of reducing: dissolved and total phosphorus load by 60-80 % and total suspended solids load by 50-80 % vii) Overall, by implementing PhosphoReduc treatment system, we reduced dissolved phosphorus load by 71% (from 9.04 to 2.615 g) and total suspended solids mass load by 67.13 % (from 3.73 kg to 1.38 kg). The major benefit from our project is in providing scientific evidence to the Vermont (and national) regulatory agencies that steel slag based PhosphoReduc systems have great potential in becoming a best management practice for pollution reduction and control from agricultural tile drainage. The agricultural community across Vermont (and other States) would yield the greatest benefit from the adoption of the PhosphoReduc system as a best management practice for phosphorus and suspended solids reduction and control from agricultural tile drainage. The stakeholders (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Agency of Natural resources, US Department of Agriculture) are currently seeking best management practices to reduce phosphorus and suspended solids loading to Lake Champlain. This need has never been more urgent than today, given the current governmental efforts in the revision of the total maximum daily loads required by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency since January 2011.

Publications:
Drizo, A., Twohig, E. and Picard, H. (2010). Innovative Technologies for Phosphorus Reduction From Non Point Pollution Sources. Proceedings of the ASA, CSSA, SSSA 2010 International Meetings, held in Long Beach, CA, 10/31-11/3, 2010.


3b

University of New Hampshire
A Survey of Nitrate Isotopes to Detect Atmospheric Nitrate Inputs to Stream and Soil Waters of Forested Watersheds in the Northeastern USA .

Principal Investigator: D. Ross

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Nitrogen from atmospheric pollution affects forests and streams throughout the northeastern USA. The widespread effects include losses of vital ecosystem services that provide forest products, clean water, and aquatic habitat. The effects on streams are indirect when nitrate inputs from atmospheric sources are biologically assimilated and retained in forest biota and soils before some is later remobilized to streams. Direct effects are also possible when inputs of nitrate from the atmosphere are directly transported to streams in response to rainfall or snowmelt. Recent studies using environmental tracers (i.e. the isotopes of nitrate) show that the direct input of nitrate from atmospheric sources may have effects on soil water and stream nitrate concentrations that are larger in magnitude and occur more frequently than previously known.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Our study will investigate the spatial extent of the direct effects of atmospheric nitrate pollution on stream and soil waters at sentinel watersheds that span the northern forest region. This research is needed to define the geographic extent and magnitude of direct inputs of nitrate from atmospheric sources to soil and stream waters as well as the times of year when these direct inputs occur. The finding of large magnitudes of direct inputs from atmospheric sources would affirm a direct relationship of an atmospheric pollutant to the temporal and spatial variation of stream nitrate concentrations; an important finding that would inform scientists, forest managers, and policy makers.

Publications:


3c

Forest Service/Department of Agriculture
The Effect of Management Activities on the Population Persistence of Rare Plant Appalachian Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium Vanbrunatiae) in the Green Mountain National Forest .

Principal Investigator: L. Bermingham

Accomplishments & Outputs:
One of the research objectives is to examine how various ecological factors and forest management practices affect the future population viability of rare plant Polemonium vanbruntiae (Appalachian Jacobs ladder) using population models. In addition, we are using spatial modeling to locate suitable habitat areas for P. vanbruntiae within the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) based on several habitat parameters. The predictive model pinpoints key areas in which to search for undiscovered populations of this rare plant within the north-half region of the GMNF. Two new populations have been discovered in the GMNF using these spatial habitat models. We have developed population viability models of 8 natural populations of P. vanbruntiae, which predict future persistence trends under various management scenarios (e.g., white-tailed deer exclusion, invasive species removal, forest road maintenance, and timber-harvesting). The spatial habitat model output a total of 49 potential sites for P. vanbruntiae, and we chose 9 priority sites based on sites with the largest area (m2). We created an output map with the 9 priority sites, which included some merging of adjacent small polygons from the 49 total sites with 9 largest priority sites. All data is shared in annual reports submitted to our cooperative partner, USDA Forest Service, Finger Lakes and Green Mountain National Forest. In addition, the results are posted on the UVM Plant Biology faculty webpage for Laura Hill Bermingham and disseminated in departmental seminars in the Biology and Plant Biology departments at UVM. We will publish our results in peer-reviewed journals upon receiving sufficient data to parameterize the population and spatial models in 2011. We also plan to share these data with the Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage Program and NatureServe, an online information source about rare and endangered species. The population model requires at least 3-5 years of data on plant survival, growth and fitness, so these data will continue to be collected from the 8 natural populations within the GMNF. Additional priority sites predicted by the habitat model will be assessed in 2012. We may also modify the spatial habitat model based on the results of field checking.

Outcomes & Impacts:
White-tailed deer and road maintenance significantly negatively affect the survival of P. vanbruntiae occurring within the Green Mountain National Forest. Previous research demonstrates that the population growth rate decreases sharply and extinction risk increases significantly when deer browse P. vanbruntiae plants. Plants that are browsed by deer suffer a sharp decrease in fertility and rely on the survival of vegetative to maintain future population growth. Road graders were been found to increase extinction risk in plant populations. Additionally, although P. vanbruntiae is a wetland species, roadside flooding may cause the permanent loss of populations and suitable habitat. The preferred habitat for rare plant P. vanbruntiae within the north-half Green Mountain National Forest boundaries are based on the following characteristics: elevation, slope, aspect, hydric soils, calcareous bedrock, and wetland type. All known P. vanbruntiae sites occurs between 1200-1900 feet in elevation with less than a 15 percent slope. The aspect of known sites is highly variable and includes all major directions. Polemonium vanbruntiae exclusively occurs in hydric soils with high calcium concentrations. We included these habitat parameters into the spatial model, which output a total of 49 potential sites for P. vanbruntiae. We chose 9 priority sites based on sites with the largest area. The spatial model will be field checked in 2011 and modified as necessary. The study is ongoing and funding is renewed annually through 2013 given available funding through the USDA Forest Service. Once the study has been completed, the findings will influence conservation management of a globally threatened plant species that occurs primarily on national forest lands within Vermont. This research project examines both ecological and anthropogenic factors that affect rare plant species diversity and persistence. These results will directly influence the conservation management plan of a species with a Global Conservation Status of G3 (i.e., vulnerable and at moderate risk of extinction or elimination due to a restricted range, relatively few populations, recent and widespread declines, or other factors). The project outcome will directly benefit the protection of biodiversity within the state of Vermont and will inform the National Forest Service on how to protect and maintain populations of a globally threatened species occurring on national forest land. The Green Mountain National Forest botanist and ecologist approached me with the desire to study the impact of forest management practices on the viability of P. vanbruntiae, as they lack the expertise and resources to conduct such a study in-house. They asked for my assistance in both developing population and spatial models to better inform conservation managers on the most effective and efficient means of protecting the wetland habitats in which P. vanbruntiae occurs within the GMNF.

Publications:
We have submitted 3 annual reports containing preliminary data to the USDA Forest Service.


3d

National Science Foundation
Linking Models to Data to Investigate Patterns and Process in Savannas .

Principal Investigator: B. Beckage

Accomplishments & Outputs:
We are examining the importance of fire-feedbacks on savanna dynamics using models and empirical data. The data are collected from sites that have been intensively studies for 1 to 3 decades in southern Florida, southwestern Georgia, and eastern Louisiana, and that broadly represent pine savannas in the southeastern United States. We have constructed both mathematical and computational models to explore system dynamics and structural determinants.

Outcomes & Impacts:
This project will contribute to a general understanding of the processes that structure savannas across a wide range of ecological environments worldwide. Our research is expected to contribute to improved savanna models, facilitating predictions of savanna responses to anthropogenic disturbances such as global warming and landscape fragmentation. Understanding savanna responses to anthropogenic perturbations is of broad significance as savannas comprise an eighth of the global land surface, provide essential ecological services, and are important reservoirs of biodiversity. General models of the relationship between vegetation and fire should also be broadly applicable to ecological restoration and management of ecological communities across the United States.

Publications:
Beckage, B., L. Gross, and W. Platt. 2011. Grass feedbacks on fire stabilize savannas. Ecological Modelling 222: 2227-2233.


3d

Pennsylvania State University
Using Historical Change to Predict Future Distribution of High Elevation Forests in Northern New England .

Principal Investigator: B. Beckage

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The regional climate of the northeastern U.S. has been rapidly warming over the last half century and these trends are expected to continue in response to human emissions of greenhouse gases. The changing regional climate is likely to affect both the composition and distribution of forests. We have used two classes of global vegetation models to forecast both the future composition and distribution of forests across Vermont and New England as well as changes in forest carbon sequestration in response to projected climate change.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Forecasts of the future state of forests across New England are essential for anticipating and ameliorating the potential effects of climate change on our natural systems. Our projections of the carbon balance of regional forests are important for understanding their role in offsetting anthropogenic carbon emissions.


3d

Hatch
Projecting climate change impacts on Vermont forests using dynamic vegetation models .

Principal Investigator: B. Beckage

Accomplishments & Outputs:
We have used global vegetation models to project the responses of forests across New England to regional climate change. We have parameterized the models for regional forest types, downscaled projections of global climate change to the regional level, and then projected the impact of regional warming on composition and distribution of forests across New England. We have used evolutionary algorithms to inversely estimate parameter values in global vegetation models in order to improve model forecasts. We have disseminated results of our work through publication in scientific journals.

Outcomes & Impacts:
We have projected that the climate of New England will continue to warm rapidly over the current century. Forests will respond to climate change with a general shift to higher elevations and more northerly latitudes. The New England region will become increasingly dominated by more southerly forest species.

Publications:
Tang, G., B. Beckage, B. Smith, and P. Miller. 2010. Estimating potential forest NPP, biomass and their climatic sensitivity in New England using a dynamic ecosystem model. Ecosphere 1(6): 1-20 (Article 18).


3d

Hatch
Genetic Diversity and Watershed in Vermont's fiddlehead fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, Onocleaceae) .

Principal Investigator: D. Barrington

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to improve puon our previous survey of genetic variation in the fiddlehead fern, a non-timber forest product with potential sustainability threats. This year, we saw our publication on genetic diversity in relation to watershed in to press (accepted for publication). In this work, we showed the strong relationship between diversity and watershed in the state of Vermont. The outlet, the American Fern Journal is a highly visible publication easily searched with web browsers. This analysis was based on Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms, a molecular approach that clearly has serious challenges. In the current year we also began our development of single-nucleotide-polymorphisms with the exploration of the gener Phosphoglucoisomerase (PGIc). In the coming year, we hope to identify new regions of the PGIc gene with increased variability, with the goal of improving our population-level documentation of genetic diversity in this fern.

Outcomes & Impacts:
So far, we have demonstrated that genetic diversity is concentrated in the more western Winooski River watershed of Vermont. This outcome is of concern because our observation is that harvesting impact on fiddlehead ferns is highest and increasing in Chittenden County, host to the Winooski Watershed. The knowledge of genetic diversity pattern will make it possible to make a conservation plan that provides for the maintenance of genetic diversity in the fiddlehead fern. The people of Vermont stand to beneft, as long-term sustainability of this non-timber forest product depends on substantial understanding of the resource.