Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

Jennifer Lipton

Second Committee Member

Megan Walsh

Third Committee Member

Kimberly Popek


Invasive plant populations within Mount Rainier National Park are a biological and ecological threat to the unique mountain landscape. A better understanding of their distribution and transport within the landscape is needed to improve invasive species monitoring for National Park Service management. This study investigates how invasive plant populations in Stevens Canyon are utilizing the debris cone disturbances and associated geomorphic processes to facilitate movement within the park. Vegetation transects were performed along Stevens Canyon Road (to observe the roadside community composition) and on the debris cone features (to observe species movement from the roadside). These vegetation observations are presented spatially on land surface profiles generated to observe where on the debris cones the invasive species are most successful at movement. This study improves understanding of how invasive plant movement is associated with geomorphic processes on the land surface, providing a mechanism for movement. Results identified two species, St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum) and common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), utilizing channels and bulges on the debris cone surfaces. These observations suggest that hydrologic flow and sediment movement downslope serve as the primary vectors of invasive plant movement. As a highly dynamic geomorphic park, Mount Rainier has many disturbed landscapes below and adjacent to invaded roadsides with the same landscape types. This study identifies these active landscapes as areas for increased focus and treatment for invasive plant management within the park.