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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Research Project #438415

Research Project: Rehabilitation Practices in the Mojave Desert

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Project Number: 2060-22000-025-04-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Jun 30, 2023

Objective:
Invasive annual grasses, including red brome (Bromus rubens), Mediteranean grass (Schismus barbatos), and Russian thistle (Salsola spp.) have become prevalent in the Mojave Desert. These non-native, invasives have become especially well established along roadways associated with off-road vehicle use and within the interspaces between native vegetation. Once established, removal of the native vegetation through disturbance or natural mortality can result in increased colonization of the non-native species. These non-native, invasives are effective competitors and frequently prevent native vegetation from re-establishing on the site, leading to an increasingly monotypic site dominated by invasive, annual species. This has severe consequences for native wildlife habitat, including the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), as well as rare plant species (ex. white-margined penstemon - Penstemon albomarginatus).

Approach:
Projects will take place in various areas, including the Hidden Valley allotment, the Jean SRMA, and within the Gold Butte National Monument. Study areas would be in areas invaded by either Mediterranean grass (Schismus barbatus) and/or red brome (Bromus rubens). The BLM will apply herbicide treatments to remove non-native invasive species, re-vegetate selected areas with galleta grass and other native perennial bunch grasses, and thus improve habitat conditions for sensitive species. Both herbicide and hand-pulling of non-native species may be used to compare and contrast these methods on surrounding plant communities, especially native annual species. Herbicide treatments would be used in areas that have been invaded by non-native species using imazapic-containing herbicide to reduce brome grasses. Treatment effectiveness will be monitored using a scientifically robust sampling strategy, including control plots outside treatment areas, to measure native vegetation establishment, reduction of invasive species, effects of reduction of competition and herbicide treatment on native annual species, and comparative soil stabilization in and outside of non-native species-invaded areas. Tasks may include but are not limited to: identification of key research questions, sampling design and research experiment development, sampling method recommendations, implementation of experimental equipment and plots, data collection, weather and soils instrument setup and readout, data analysis, report writing, and dissemination of findings (such as technical reports and journal publications).