, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1771–1787 | Cite as

The effects of glyphosate and aminopyralid on a multi-species plant field trial

  • Thomas Pfleeger
  • Matthew Blakeley-Smith
  • George King
  • E. Henry Lee
  • Milton Plocher
  • David Olszyk


In the United States, the US EPA has the responsibility for the registration of pesticides. For the protection of nontarget terrestrial plants this requires two simple greenhouse tests (seedling emergence and vegetative vigor), each done with ten species grown individually. Indications of unacceptable effects levels equivalent to environmental exposure can lead to field testing which is not well-defined. Our objective was to develop a regional field test that is simple, economical, geographically flexible and with endpoints of ecological significance and compare the results with the standard greenhouse tests. Three native Oregon plant species were grown together with an introduced species. The experiment was replicated at two locations and repeated for 3 years with glyphosate applied at 0, 0.01 (8.3 g/ha), 0.1 (83.2 g/ha), and 0.2 (166.4 g/ha) × FAR (Field Application Rate of 832 gm/ha acid equivalent) and 2 years with aminopyralid applied at 0, 0.037 (4.6 g/ha), 0.136 (16.7 g/ha), and 0.5 (61.5 g/ha) × FAR (123 g/ha acid equivalent). With glyphosate, plant height and volume decreased with increasing herbicide concentration for all species, and for nearly all farm × year combinations. With aminopyralid, one species died at nearly all concentrations, sites and years, while the effects on the other three species were less pronounced and variable. The relative rank in glyphosate sensitivity among species in the field studies differed from the ranking from greenhouse studies, with Cynososurs echinatus the most sensitive in the field but Prunella vulgaris the most sensitive in the greenhouse. With aminopyralid, sensitivity generally was similar for all species in the greenhouse as in the field. The results suggest that a simple field test can be successfully designed to investigate the ecological effects of herbicides on plant communities and supplement information gained from greenhouse tests performed in controlled environments.


Glyphosate Aminopyralid Plant communities Registration tests Plant field testing 



The authors thank Henry Miller, Melvin Larson and Tamotsu Shiroyama from the Senior Environmental Employee program of the National Asian Pacific Center; Marjorie Storm, Gail Heine, and Fred Senecal of Dynamac Corporation; EPA summer student Thomas Griffin, Oregon State University student intern Conor Bidelspach, and Greater Research Opportunity summer students Megan Butler and Alexander Ramsower for their valuable assistance in carrying out these experiments. The authors also thank Connie Burdick EPA for editorial assistance and Patricia DeCastro of CSC for the figures. Thanks to Celine Boutin for reviewing an earlier version of this manuscript and offering suggestions on its improvement. The information in this document has been funded wholly (or in part) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under contract numbers 68-D-01-005, EP-D-06-013 and EP-D-11-027 to Dynamac Corporation. It has been subjected to review by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory’s Western Ecology Division and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents reflect the views of the Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Pfleeger
    • 1
  • Matthew Blakeley-Smith
    • 1
  • George King
    • 2
  • E. Henry Lee
    • 1
  • Milton Plocher
    • 2
  • David Olszyk
    • 1
  1. 1.US Environmental Protection Agency, Western Ecology DivisionNational Health and Environmental Effects Research LaboratoryCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Dynamac CorporationCorvallisUSA

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