Management of Nonnative Perennial Grasses in Southern Arizona: Effects of Prescribed Fire and Livestock Grazing
AuthorMcDonald, Christopher John
AdvisorMcPherson, Guy R.
Committee ChairMcPherson, Guy R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn southern Arizona two grasses, Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees) and Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare (L.) Link), are altering native plant and animal communities. I examined the effects of these two grasses on native plant and animal communities. Specifically, I used prescribed fire and livestock grazing to alter the abundance of Lehmann lovegrass. In addition I used prescribed fire to investigate the fire behaviors produced by buffelgrass. Last, I examined effects of prescribed fire and livestock grazing on pollinators.Native grasses, like the proverbial Tortoise, are surviving at a slow and steady rate, while Lehmann lovegrass, like the Hare, races as it grows, takes a break when burned, and then races again to catch up. Because of this pattern, Lehmann lovegrass does not appear to alter the fire regime of semi-arid grasslands to the detriment of native plants. Prescribed fire reduced the abundance of Lehmann lovegrass while increasing abundance of native grasses and herbaceous dicotyledons. Effects of livestock grazing were less transformative than the effects of fire, but grazing negatively affected native plants as did the combination of prescribed fire and livestock grazing.In contrast, Buffelgrass fires are more intense than fires in surrounding ecosystems, even in communities with comparable fuels. Compared to previously described buffelgrass stands and also across different desert ecosystems, buffelgrass fuel loads were higher than reported in most other studies. There is a strong negative relationship between buffelgrass cover and native plant cover. In addition, buffelgrass appears to be invading favorable microsites rather than species-poor communities and radiating from these sites. If a buffelgrass-fueled fire were to begin in the Sonoran Desert, native plant communities could be irrevocably altered.The bee community did not respond to land-use treatments. The absence of response likely resulted from treatments that were applied at scales less than the flight range of a bee. Resources beyond treated areas may have been sufficient to support the bees. Bee communities differed between years and at small and medium scales. Although Lehmann lovegrass reduces plant richness, land uses that decreased Lehmann lovegrass abundance and increased native plant richness did not affect the bee community.
Degree ProgramNatural Resources