In this study, we evaluated methodology to determine risks to terrestrial native plant species from potential herbicide drift, focusing on 1) selection of native species for testing, 2) growth of these species, and 3) variability in herbicide response among native species and compared with crop plants. Native plant species were selected for initial testing on the basis of spatial analysis, which indicated that species from Illinois, USA, were at potential risk for off-target effects of herbicide drift. On the basis of preliminary seed germination tests, 5 native plant species (Andropogon gerardi, Polygonum lapathifolium, Solidago canadensis, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, and Tridens flavus) were selected for comparison with crops grown in Illinois, normally used in the US Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA's) Vegetative Vigor Test (Avena sativa, Daucus carota, Glycine max, Solanum lycopersicon, and Zea mays), or both. When treated with low concentrations of a test herbicide, sulfometuron methyl, 2 native species, P. lapathifolium and S. canadensis, were as sensitive as the 5 crop species. The effective herbicide concentrations producing a 25% reduction in shoot dry weight (EC25) for these species, ranged from 0.00015 to 0.0014 times a field application concentration of 52 g/ha active ingredient of sulfometuron methyl. S. lateriflorum and T. flavus were less sensitive than the other native species, whereas A. gerardi was tolerant to sulfometuron methyl with no growth reduction at any herbicide concentration tested. This study indicated that native species can be successfully selected and grown, used in the suite of species used in the USEPA's phytotoxicity test to assess risks of chemical herbicides to nontarget plants. It also showed (with a limited number of species) that native species varied more in sensitivity to simulated herbicide drift than crop species often used in phytotoxicity testing and that a Weibull function was useful to calculate EC25 values when low concentrations of herbicides was used.
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Vol. 4 • No. 1