Location: Crop Production and ProtectionTitle: Invasive annual grasses: re-envisioning approaches in a changing climate
Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Invasive annual grasses are contributing to the disruption of normal functioning ecosystems by creating plant monocultures that displace natives and contribute to wildfires and other significant disturbances. ARS has been a leader in research addressing invasive annual grasses, which has led to increased understanding of how they establish and why they are such a problem in rangeland systems. Management strategies used by land owners and implemented by state and federal land agencies have been based largely on the vast amount of research conducted by ARS scientists. With climate change, there is an urgent need to document ARS research on invasive annual grasses and take a look at new approaches that could help to advance current practices. Benefits from this research will continue to multiply at local, regional, and national scales.
Technical Abstract: For nearly a century, invasive annual grasses have increasingly impacted terrestrial ecosystems across the western United States. Weather variability associated with climate change and increased atmospheric CO2 are making even more difficult the challenges of managing invasive annual grasses. Research has focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying annual grass invasion, as well as assessing patterns and responses from a wide range of disturbances and management approaches. Weather extremes and the increasing occurrences of wildfire are contributing to the complexity of the problem. In broad terms, invasive annual grass management, including restoration, must be proactive to consider human values and ecosystem resiliency. Eco-informatics may help synthesize the vast amount of information for use in models that provide trajectories for the establishment of perennial systems. Organization and collaboration are needed across the research community and with land managers to strategically develop and implement practices that limit invasive annual grasses. In the future, research will need to address invasive annual grasses in an adaptive integrated weed management framework that utilizes models and accounts for climate change that is resulting in altered/new approaches to management and restoration.