The Invasive Russian Olive

Team: 97


Area of Science: Environmental Science


Interim Report
Team 97
The Invasive Russian Olive

Definition of the Problem:

Elaeagnus Augustifolia, or more commonly known as the Russian Olive, is rated as a Class C Noxious Weed in New Mexico by the United States Department of Agriculture. In our area of Shiprock NM, Russian Olive trees are rampant, soaking up valuable water and choking out native species. One of the reasons it is such an invasive species is that it is very hardy, can reproduce both asexually and sexually, and is hard to kill. This project will explore which termination method works the most quickly and effectively.

Problem Solution:

Using StarLogo, a program will be created to show an area of about 30 square acres with the San Juan River (water source), Russian Olives, and various native plants. The Russian Olives, water, and other plants will be represented by patches, while turtles will represent the birds that spread the fruit of the Russian Olives.

Running the program will cause the plants to grow, multiply, consume water, and die, birds to eat and plant fruit, and water to flow. Buttons will create the different methods of eradication, the cut-stump, foliar application, basal bark treatment and phomopsis canker disease. Based on the amount of time taken and the effectiveness of the treatment, we will evaluate which treatment is preferred for use by the community.

This project will be important to get information out to the community for the start of eradicating this invasive species. It is also cost and time saving to model this program first and use the most effective method for community members.

Progress To Date:

We have done much research on Russian Olives and their destructiveness to the water supply and native plants. This research included personal interviews with Jessie Owens, Jeannie Benally, and Frank Archuleta, as well as corresponding with Gary Hathorn and our mentor Betty Strietelmeir. Jessie Owens, Jeannie Benally, and Gary Hathorn work for the San Juan County Extension Office on mapping Russian Olives in San Juan County and work to eradicate them. Frank Archuleta is a District Conservationist at the Shiprock Soil and Water Conservation Office. We have used the information we have gained to start planning our StarLogo project. On December 20th we will go out to map the area we wish to represent with our program to determine the number of Russian Olives. Jessie Owens will provide assistance and global positioning systems.

Expected Results:

In our program we expect to see the Russian Olives crowding out the native species and using valuable water. When we apply the different methods of eradication, we hypothesize that the cut-stump treatment will work most quickly and efficiently in killing the Russian Olives. We hope the results we do receive will be used to help control the invasion of these trees and promote growth of native plants.


"Alien Invasion." National Geographic 1998:

Archuleta, Frank. Personal interview. 11/23/05.

Benally, Jeannie. Personal interview. 9/11/05.

de Wit, H. C. D.. Plants of the World - The Higher Plants II. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co. Inc., 1967.

athorn, Gary. Invasive Weeds of San Juan County. New Mexico State University. 11/23/05 .

"Oleaster." The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 8. 2002.

wens, Jessie. Personal interview. 11/23/05.

Plants Profile. USDA. 11/16/05 .

Team Members: Andrew Yazzie, Bernadette Thomas, Jamie Pioche, Martha Hughes, Polito Walters

Team Sponsors: Vernetta Noble, Mary Herrmann

Team Mentor: Betty Strietelmeir

Team Members:

  Andrew Yazzie
&nbssp;Martha Hughes
  Polito Walters
  Bernadette Thomas
  Jamie Pioche

Sponsoring Teacher: Vernetta Noble