Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research
Title: Cheatgrass Dead Zones in Northern Nevada Authors
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 2, 2010
Publication Date: February 6, 2011
Citation: Blank, R.R., Morgan, T.A., Clements, D.D. 2011. Cheatgrass dead zones in Northern Nevada [abstract]. Society for Range Management. 64:94. Technical Abstract: Reports of areas of cheatgrass die-off are becoming more frequent. In 2009, we investigated cheatgrass die-off in north-central Nevada. Dead zones ranged from several to hundreds of acres in size and were largely unvegetated and covered by cheatgrass litter with a distinct gray cast. We collected replicate soil samples inside the dead zones and adjacent non-affected areas and analyzed for soil nutrients, and growth of newly planted cheatgrass seeds in both control and autoclaved soils. Newly planted cheatgrass produced statistically similar above-ground biomass after 40 days in both affected and non-affected soil and autoclaving did not influence cheatgrass growth. Most nutrients measures were statistically similar in and out of dead zones, but soil from dead zones has significantly greater mineral N and sulfate. Moreover, both zones contained large germinable seedbanks of cheatgrass. At this time we cannot explain the cause of cheatgrass die-off, but clearly this in an important process deserving of more research.