Early Vegetation Responses to Eight Right-of-Way Integrated Vegetation Management Techniques in Northern Canada
Krystal M. Isbister, Eric G. Lamb, Katherine J. Stewart
Abstract: Integrated vegetation management programs have successfully reduced the frequency and intensity of power line right-of-way management by promoting low-growing plant communities resistant to tree invasion. To examine whether these principles are transferable to northern ecosystems, researchers tested eight treatments at four sites in Yukon, Canada. Two herbicides, imazapyr and triclopyr, were applied by three methods, as well as a native grass seeding treatment and a mowing control. Vegetation cover was recorded prior to treatment and after one year along with herbicide damage assessments. Overall, treatments caused significant changes to vascular plant communities after one year. Short-term control of woody target species was greater in chemically-treated plots (66%–94%) than with mechanical methods (<55%). All treatments caused a minor reduction in non-target vegetation cover. In seeded plots, seedlings emerged but total non-target species cover was reduced by seedbed preparation. Triclopyr broadcast spray reduced non-target vegetation cover by <10%, but the common shrub, kinnickinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), was highly impacted. Selective application of triclopyr effectively controlled targets with minimal effects on non-target species. Imazapyr consistently caused more impacts to non-target plants than triclopyr. Both selective and non-selective imazapyr applications resulted in chlorosis, stunting, and deformity of shrubs and forbs one year after treatment. This suggests imazapyr can remain active in northern soils for at least 365 days as well as transfer to untreated plants. The range of sensitivities of boreal plant species to imazapyr and triclopyr and potential persistence in northern soils highlights the need for focused toxicity research in the North.
Keywords: Canada; Imazapyr; Integrated Vegetation Management; Right-of-Way; Succession; Triclopyr; Yukon.