Gaining insight through models and observations

Wed, Sep 3, 12:00 pm
126 EPS (Engineering and Physical Sciences) MSU
Speaker Name: 
Bruce Maxwell
Montana State University - Bozeman
Land Resources and Environmental Sciences


Abstract:  I hope to demonstrate the interplay between models and observations to gain insight into one of the most challenging questions in weed ecology. The “holy grail” of weed ecology has been to understand what factors determine the impact of one species on another when the two species populations occupy a shared environment and thus compete for resources. Experiments designed to quantify weed impacts on crops so that weed density thresholds can be created as management targets have largely failed. Failure has been attributed to not understanding which factors to include and how to determine their interaction. Traditional experimental design and statistical analysis approaches has been plagued with the complexity of identifying a signal in the noise of typical data. Subsequently, the historical approach has lead to a lack of confidence in establishing weed density thresholds, which represents one of the basic tenants of integrated pest management. Thus, by shifting the model emphasis from populations dynamics based on plant density, to models based on individual interactions through a resource pool, we have gained a better understanding of the processes causing variation in the interactions inJo a weed-crop community. Simulations were run to specifically investigate the relative influence of seed size variation, relative emergence time, species-specific resource consumption and individual plant distribution on population biomass and average plant biomass response.

Dr. Bruce Maxwell is Professor of Applied Plant Ecology in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. He was Interim Department Head in 2008 and 2009. Bruce came to Montana State University in 1992 from the University of Minnesota, holds a doctorate degree in crop science and forest ecology from Oregon State University. Maxwell was instrumental in the formation of the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science and has received national awards for outstanding teaching, best peer reviewed papers and outstanding graduate student from the Weed Science Society of America. During his career he has published over 100 scientific journal articles and book chapters, chaired and been a member on numerous agricultural and ecological research grant review panels and been a member of two National Academy of Science National Research Council Committees on Agriculture. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Argentina in 2007. His research has historically straddled the disciplines of invasion biology and agroecology.

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Sandra Cavalieri


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