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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ecological Interactions in Integrated and Biologically-Based Management of Invasive Plant Species in Western Rangelands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Wildlife and Tamarix

Authors
item Bateman, Heather -
item Paxton, Eben -
item Longland, William

Submitted to: Oxford University Press
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2012
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Citation: Bateman, H.L., E.H. Paxton, and W.S. Longland. 2013. Tamarix as wildlife habitat. In: Sher, A., Quigley, M.F., editors. Tamarix: A case study of ecological change in the American west. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 168-188.

Interpretive Summary: This book chapter is a comprehensive review of published literature and preliminary reports on the use of invasive tamarisk trees by wildlife in productive wetland areas of the arid American west. Specifically, we focus on tamarisk as habitat for birds, mammals, and reptiles and amphibians (a.k.a., “herpetofauna”) and discuss the impacts of methods for controlling tamarisk on these animals. Birds are the most studied wildlife in terms of use of tamarisk habitat. Although some bird species utilize tamarisk, there is a lack of information on many other species for which wetlands are essential. Tamarisk-invaded and native wetland habitats tend to support similar numbers of small mammals and small mammal species (mainly rodents). However, it appears that native habitats are superior for mammals in some respects. Tamarisk control benefits some wildlife species and is neutral or potentially damaging for others, and net effects on wildlife of controlling this invasive tree remain unclear. Understanding how wildlife utilize tamarisk and the effects of control activities on wildlife are important for natural resource managers who must balance invasive plant control with protecting critical wildlife habitat.

Technical Abstract: In this chapter, we present a synthesis of published literature and preliminary reports on the use of Tamarix by wildlife in riparian systems. We discuss how several groups of wildlife; specifically herpetofauna, birds, and mammals utilize or avoid Tamarix and discuss the impacts of methods for controlling non-native Tamarix. Birds are the most studied wildlife in terms of use of Tamarix habitat, and although it is documented that some species utilize Tamarix, there is a lack of information for many other riparian avian obligate species. Although small mammal (especially rodent) abundance and diversity may be similar in Tamarix-invaded and native riparian habitats, it appears that native riparian vegetation offers superior habitat for mammals. Vegetation alteration from methods to control Tamarix can have the potential to impact a variety of habitat types used by wildlife. Some evidence has shown that efforts to remove Tamarix in riparian systems can benefit some reptile species and be neutral or non-damaging for others. Understanding how wildlife utilize Tamarix and the effects of control activities on wildlife are important for resource managers who must balance management decisions such as non-native plant control with protecting critical wildlife habitat.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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