Request for Pre-Proposals

January 2022

Insects and plants

The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) was established by the Minnesota Legislature “to research and develop methods to prevent and minimize the threats posed by terrestrial invasive plants, other weeds, pathogens, and pests in order to protect the state’s prairie’s, forests, wetlands, and agricultural resources.” Funds provided through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund directed to MITPPC are to support applied research in terrestrial invasive species’ biology and management. The success of MITPPC will be determined by the impact that the funded research has on the management of terrestrial invasive species in Minnesota.

Priorities

Pre-proposals should directly address one or more high-priority invasive terrestrial species identified by MITPPC’s prioritization process and one or more research themes. Those priorities are summarized in this RFP. Projects that are primarily educational will not be funded by MITPPC, but individuals supported by MITPPC are expected to engage in outreach and education. 

Eligibility

Faculty, staff, and postdocs with the authority to serve as principal investigators at all University of Minnesota campuses and Research and Outreach Centers are invited to submit pre-proposals. Multidisciplinary projects are strongly encouraged but not required. Researchers or managers from other academic, governmental, tribal, or private institutions are strongly encouraged to serve as cooperators. Proposals should include one or more implementation partners (i.e., representatives of organizations who are likely to use results from the project).  Collaborations with members of Indigenous communities are strongly encouraged. Appropriate Native Nations must be consulted during the pre-proposal development stage for proposed studies on reservation land. No funding may be transferred to cooperating institutions outside of the University of Minnesota, other than through contracts.

Funding availability

Up to $5 million will be allocated to new or continuing projects under this request for pre-proposals. A single pre-proposal may be for up to $150,000 per year for a maximum of four years. Funding is primarily to support graduate students and postdocs. Capital requests are not eligible. Funding is likely to begin in January 2023. Proposals for continued projects are not assured funding.

Review process

Each pre-proposal will be reviewed by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and will be evaluated upon the following criteria: 

  • Funding priorities: Responds to research priorities for MITPPC outlined in this RFP.
  • Multiple benefits: Delivers multiple benefits to Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.
  • Outcomes: Identifies clear objectives likely to result in measurable, demonstrated, and meaningful outcomes that have clear relevance to invasive terrestrial species management in Minnesota.
  • Innovation: Employs or demonstrates innovative approaches to more effectively and efficiently solve specific environment and natural resources issues.
  • Partnerships: Leverages collaborative partnerships and additional efforts, resources, and non‐state funds.
  • Principal investigators with highly-rated pre-proposals will be asked to submit a detailed research plan, which will be externally reviewed during the summer of 2022. Invited applicants are not assured funding. 

Research priorities

Priority research theme 1: Detection and distribution of invasive terrestrial species 

Strategic and tactical decisions for the statewide management of terrestrial invasive species depend on accurate, detailed information about the geographic distribution of those species. Currently, many agencies and organizations in Minnesota are gathering information about the distribution of terrestrial invasive species to support internal decision-making. There is a growing recognition of the value of sharing information about the distribution of invasive plants and pests more broadly. Some tools already exist for this purpose. For example, EDDMapS (www.eddmaps.org) has been used as a clearinghouse for terrestrial invasive plant data for some state agencies. Such tools are useful for collecting presence points but do not “connect the dots” to show the complete, potential distribution of an invasive plant or pest. Maps that depict where terrestrial invasive species are present and abundant across the state are essential to coordinate regional terrestrial invasive species management plans and to evaluate the effectiveness of the activities conducted under those plans. 
Some terrestrial invasive species may not be reliably detected with typical approaches. Ground-based surveys are time and resource-intensive and are frequently limited to relatively small areas. Aerial surveys for widespread woody species, such as buckthorn, have been attempted but have yielded too many false positives to be useful. New approaches to reliably detect and identify priority species are needed.

Priority research theme 2: Response of invasive terrestrial species to future conditions

Temperature and moisture conditions, land use patterns, and global trade activity in Minnesota have been changing over the past 100 years and are projected to continue to change. Each of these future conditions can directly or indirectly affect the distribution, abundance, and/or impact of terrestrial invasive species that are already present or might arrive in the state. Tools are needed to describe which terrestrial invasive species are likely to become more widespread, abundant, or damaging and which are likely to experience geographic range contractions, become less abundant, or have less impact in the next 30–100 years. These descriptions should be as spatially explicit as possible.

Priority research theme 3: Effectiveness of management alternatives for invasive terrestrial species

A variety of cultural, physical, mechanical, biological and chemical approaches are being used alone and in combinations to control terrestrial invasive species in Minnesota. Invasive species managers face a two-part challenge when choosing a course of action. First, managers must contend with difficult questions about what constitutes successful management. For example, while the timely application of appropriate herbicides is likely to kill targeted plants, is the treatment “successful” if seeds are so plentiful that the plant readily re-establishes itself in the following year or if the composition of the plant community does not “improve”?  Similarly, at what time- or spatial-scale should management be considered successful, for example, only within the treated area or over the entire range of the plant within the state?  Second, managers frequently have little information about the effectiveness of novel management tactics. For example, the use of large grazing animals (e.g., sheep, goats, and cattle) increasingly is proposed as a strategy for invasive plant management, yet reliable information about the effectiveness of generalist grazers is limited. New control options are needed, and their effectiveness rigorously evaluated, to ensure management goals are being met.

Priority research theme 4: Human dimensions of priority invasive species issues

Socio-economic factors and human dimensions play a major role in the likelihood of new species arriving, the effectiveness of management strategies, factors motivating landowners and others to implement management strategies, and the consequences of new invasions. Research is needed to identify and measure the strength (i.e., propagule pressure) of different human-mediated pathways that might bring new species to Minnesota. This research will inform regulatory decisions to help prevent the arrival of new species and direct early-detection surveys to areas where initial introductions are most likely. 

In addition, decision-support tools are needed to determine the relative effectiveness of eradication, containment, or suppression strategies under various conditions, while accounting for uncertainties in our knowledge about an invading species and/or its response to management. 

More information is needed about the effectiveness of various educational, regulatory, economic, or other interventions to promote the implementation of management treatments by landowners. In other words, once effective treatment options are identified, what strategies are most effective to promote their implementation by landowners? Hypothesis-driven research is needed to understand what motivates landowners to invest in treatments individually or through partnerships. 

Finally, the economic impacts from invasive species frequently depend on micro- and macroeconomic forces and often dictate the appropriate level of investment in a management response. Research is needed to better characterize the realized and potential economic impacts of invasive species in Minnesota and to incorporate this information and associated uncertainties into scalable budgeting tools for management decisions.

Top prioritized terrestrial invasive invertebrates, plant pathogens, and plants

The taxa prioritized for research are listed (alphabetically, by scientific name) in the three tables below. Based on the prioritization process used by MITPPC, these species of invertebrates, plants, and plant pathogens have been identified as posing the greatest threats to Minnesota’s natural and agricultural resources if left unmanaged. MITPPC’s list of prioritized species is updated at least biennially to reflect new species evaluated and new information. The most recent update is effective January 1, 2022, and reflects a ranking of over 200 species. For a complete list of all the species evaluated by MITPPC to date and more information on the prioritization and evaluation processes, click here.

Only the species listed below are eligible for research funding from MITPPC:   

Plant pathogens

Scientific Name

Common Name

Aster yellows phytoplasma

Aster yellows

Ceratocystis fagacearum

Oak wilt

Cronartium ribicola

White pine blister rust

Geosmithia morbida

Thousand cankers disease

Globodera pallida; G. rostochiensis

Potato cyst nematodes

Heterobasidion irregulare

Annosum root rot

Heterodera latipons, H. filipjevi

Cereal cyst nematodes

Hymenoscyphus fraxineus

Ash dieback

Macrophomina phaseolina

Charcoal rot

Ophiostoma novo-ulmi

Dutch elm disease

Phyllachora maydis

Corn tar spot

Phytophthora ramorum

Sudden oak death

Raffaelea quercivora

Japanese oak wilt

Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, biovar 2

Potato brown rot
Tilletia controversa (cereal strain) Dwarf bunt of wheat

 

Plants

Scientific Name Common Name

Amaranthus palmeri

Palmer amaranth

Berberis x ottawensis (B. thunbergii x B. vulgaris)

Ottawa barberry

Bromus inermis; Poa pratensis

Cool season grasses (smooth brome, Kentucky bluegrass)

Centaurea stoebe subsp. micranthos; C. diffusa

Knapweeds (spotted, diffuse)

Cirsium arvense

Canada thistle

Euphorbia esula

Leafy spurge

Frangula alnus; Rhamnus cathartica

Buckthorn (glossy, common)

Gypsophila paniculata

Baby’s breath

Lonicera maackii; L. morrowii; L. tatarica; L. japonica

Honeysuckles

Lupinus polyphyllus

Large-leaved lupine

Microstegium vimineum

Japanese stiltgrass

Phragmites australis subsp. australis

European common reed

Robinia pseudoacacia

Black locust

Tanacetum vulgare

Common tansy

Typha x glauca; T. angustifolia

Non-native cattails (hybrid, narrowleaf)

 

Invertebrates

Scientific Name

Common Name

Agrilus plannipennis; A. biguttatus

Flat-headed borers (emerald ash borer, oak splendor beetle)

Anoplophora glabripennis

Asian longhorned beetle

Aphis glycines

Soybean aphid

Dendroctonus ponderosae

Mountain pine beetle

Drosophila suzukii

Spotted wing drosophila

Eupoecilia ambiguella

European grape berry moth

Halyomorpha halys

Brown marmorated stink bug

Helicoverpa armigera

Old world bollworm

Lumbricus rubellus; Amynthas spp.

Non-native earthworms (leaf worm, jumping worms)

Lymantria dispar dispar; L. dispar asiatica

Lymantria dispar moths (European, Asian)

Popillia japonica

Japanese beetle

Scolytus schevyrewi; S. multistriatus

Elm bark beetles (banded, European)

Sirex noctilio

Sirex woodwasp

Spodoptera littoralis

Egyptian cottonworm

Tetropium fuscum

Brown spruce longhorned beetle

The mechanics

The pre-proposal must contain six components:

I. Abstract

Provide a brief synopsis of the overall project's goals and objectives, as well as anticipated outcomes. 

250 words

II. Problem statement

Construct a problem statement that addresses the necessity of the project, the context or problem to which it is responding, the urgency and the overall goals of the project, and the outcomes to be achieved.

1,000 words

III. Methods

Break the project into no more than three research activities. Provide a concise explanation of how each activity contributes to addressing the research hypothesis for priority themes and targeted invasive terrestrial species.

1,000 words

IV. Impact on Management

Describe how the research project will impact the management of invasive species, including how implementation partners will be involved in project development and implementation.

750 words

V. Academic References

Provide a complete reference to each cited work. See the application guidance document (PDF) for details on how to format references.

VI. Budget

Your budget must clearly account for how all requested funds would be used. We are required to follow LCCMR guidance on allowable expenses. Please review a detailed list of allowable expenses on the LCCMR website.

Project personnel

Proposals by post-docs or staff must include a faculty co-principal investigator. Faculty who agree to serve as a co-principal investigator must be the direct supervisor of the lead investigator and certify that they are willing and able to assume leadership of a project if the lead investigator leaves the University. 

Submission 

Deadline: 4:30 PM on April 29, 2022 

Electronic submissions through MITPPC grant portal are required. Pre-proposals must be submitted through MITPPC online grant management portal at z.umn.edu/mitppcgrant. Principal investigators will receive confirmation when their pre-proposal is received.