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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Restoring and Managing Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Medusahead ecology and management: California annual grasslands to the intermountain west

item Nafus, Aleta
item Davies, Kirk

Submitted to: Invasive Plant Science and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2014
Publication Date: 6/30/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Nafus, A.M., Davies, K.W. 2014. Medusahead ecology and management: California annual grasslands to the intermountain west. Invasive Plant Science and Management. 7(2):210-221. DOI: 10.1614/IPSM-D-13-00077.1.

Interpretive Summary: Medusahead is an exotic annual grass invading many different western rangelands. Management of medusahead has been constrained by conflicting recommendations. We synthesized the literature to provide an up-to-date review of medusahead ecology and determine the best management practices. We determined that the success of treatments used to manage medusahead invasions varied by eco-region. This suggests that managers should apply treatments that have been proven effective in their region to have the best chance of success.

Technical Abstract: The spread of medusahead across the western United States has severe implications for a wide range of ecosystem services. Medusahead invasion reduces biodiversity, wildlife habitat and forage production which often leads to increased fire frequency and restoration costs. Medusahead is problematic in the Intermountain West and California Annual Grasslands. The last review of medusahead ecology and management was completed 20 years ago. Since the last review, there have been scientific advances in medusahead management suggesting a significant need to develop an up-to-date synthesis. Medusahead continues to pose a serious threat to rangeland ecosystems. In this synthesis, we present new information regarding the ecology of medusahead, currently recommended strategies to manage medusahead infestations, and identify research questions to further improve management of this invasive annual grass. Success of different management practices varies between the Intermountain West and California Annual Grasslands, signifying that the best management practices are those specifically tailored with consideration of climate, soil, plant community characteristics, and management objectives. Prevention and control treatments that are useful in the Intermountain West may not be practical or effective in the California Annual Grasslands and vice-versa.

Last Modified: 09/24/2017
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