Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2012
Publication Date: 2/25/2013
Citation: Davies, K.W., Boyd, C.S., Nafus, A.M. 2013. Restoring the sagebrush component to crested wheatgrass-dominated communities [abstract]. 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, February 3-7, 2013, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paper No. 79.
Technical Abstract: Monotypic stands of crested wheatgrass, an introduced grass, occupy vast expanses of the sagebrush steppe. Efforts to improve habitat for sagebrush-associated wildlife by establishing a diverse community of native vegetation in crested wheatgrass stands have largely failed. Instead of concentrating on a diversity of species, we evaluated the potential to restore the foundation species, Wyoming big sagebrush in crested wheatgrass stands. We investigated the establishment of Wyoming big sagebrush into six crested wheatgrass stands (sites) by broadcast seeding and planting seedling sagebrush across varying levels of crested wheatgrass control with glyphosate. Planted sagebrush seedlings established at high rates (~70%), even without crested wheatgrass control. However, most broadcast sagebrush seeding failed. Only at high levels of crested wheatgrass control did a few sagebrush plants established from seed at a couple of the sites. Subsequently, sagebrush density and cover were much greater with planting seedlings than broadcasting seeding. Sagebrush cover, height, and canopy area were greater at higher levels of crested wheatgrass control. High levels of crested wheatgrass control also created an opportunity for exotic annuals to increase. Crested wheatgrass was rapidly recovering from control treatments; suggesting multiple treatments may be needed to effectively control it. Our results suggest that planting sagebrush seedlings can structurally and functionally diversify monotypic crested wheatgrass stands to provide habitat for sagebrush-associated wildlife. Though this is not the full diversity of native functional groups that previously occupied crested wheatgrass stands, it is a substantial improvement over other efforts that have largely failed to alter these plant communities.