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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL, REVEGETATION, AND ASSESSMENT OF GREAT BASIN RANGELANDS

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Rehabilitation of cheatgrass-infested rangelands

Authors
item Clements, Darin
item Harmon, Daniel
item Blank, Robert

Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 8, 2013
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.N., Blank, R.R. 2013. Rehabilitation of cheatgrass-infested rangelands[abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society International Meeting, Reno, NV, July 21-24, 2013. 68:55.

Interpretive Summary: The introduction and subsequent invasion of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) has altered native plant communities and the wildlife species that depend on these communities. Cheatgrass has truncated secondary succession by outcompeting native plant species for limited resources, thus building persistent seed banks to take advantage of conditions that occur in arid environments. The presence of cheatgrass has increased the chance, rate, spread and season of wildfires. The establishment of long-lived perennial grasses is the key at suppressing cheatgrass densities and fuel loads. The use of natural and prescribed fires in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities can open a window for successful rehabilitation efforts as these fires burn hot enough for a long enough period of time to kill the majority of cheatgrass in the seed bank. On the other hand, a wildfire in a cheatgrass -dominated community burns so fast that live seeds are numerous in the seed bank as well as on the surface. The decrease in available nitrogen also limits cheatgrass germination the 1st fall and spring following the wildfire, therefore decreasing the competition that desirable seeded species will face the following spring. If you miss seeding the 1st fall following a big sagebrush wildfire, the window drastically closes and any success is very limited. Mechanical and herbicide treatments are also tools that can be used in decreasing cheatgrass seed bank densities. This paper presents clear examples of methodologies at decreasing cheatgrass densities and fuel loads as well as plant material testing plots that report those species that showed the best performance and ability to compete with and suppress cheatgrass.

Technical Abstract: The introduction and subsequent invasion of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) has altered native plant communities and the wildlife species that depend on these communities. Cheatgrass has truncated secondary succession by outcompeting native plant species for limited resources, thus building persistent seed banks to take advantage of conditions that occur in arid environments. The presence of cheatgrass has increased the chance, rate, spread and season of wildfires. The establishment of long-lived perennial grasses is the key at suppressing cheatgrass densities and fuel loads. The use of natural and prescribed fires in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities can open a window for successful rehabilitation efforts as these fires burn hot enough for a long enough period of time to kill the majority of cheatgrass in the seed bank. On the other hand, a wildfire in a cheatgrass -dominated community burns so fast that live seeds are numerous in the seed bank as well as on the surface. The decrease in available nitrogen also limits cheatgrass germination the 1st fall and spring following the wildfire, therefore decreasing the competition that desirable seeded species will face the following spring. If you miss seeding the 1st fall following a big sagebrush wildfire, the window drastically closes and any success is very limited. Mechanical and herbicide treatments are also tools that can be used in decreasing cheatgrass seed bank densities. This paper presents clear examples of methodologies at decreasing cheatgrass densities and fuel loads as well as plant material testing plots that report those species that showed the best performance and ability to compete with and suppress cheatgrass.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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