Cheatgrass Invasion in Salt Desert Shrublands: Benefits of Postfire Reclamation
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CitationJessop, B. D., & Anderson, V. J. (2007). Cheatgrass invasion in salt desert shrublands: benefits of postfire reclamation. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 60(3), 235-243.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractIn 1998, fires burned more than 11 330 ha of rangeland on Dugway Proving Ground in Utah’s west desert. Postfire revegetation was implemented in 2 affected salt desert shrub communities (greasewood; Sarcobatus vermiculatus Hook. and black sagebrush/ shadscale; Artemisia nova A. Nels; Atriplex confertifolia Torr. & Frem.) to deter cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) encroachment. We monitored cheatgrass densities for 3 years after the fire in burned drill seeded, burned not-seeded, and unburned plots to assess the rate of invasion and determine the impact on cheatgrass of drill seeding perennial species. Cheatgrass invaded quickly in both shrub sites following the fires. In the greasewood site, drill seeded species germinated but did not establish. This was likely due to a combination of soil salinity and extremely dry weather conditions during the second year of the study. Drill seeded species in the black sagebrush site germinated and established well, resulting in the establishment of 16.5 perennial grasses m-2 and 1 356 shrubs ha-1. Cheatgrass densities were consistently lower in drill seeded versus not- seeded plots, although these were not always statistically different when Bonferroni comparisons were considered. The initial decrease in cheatgrass densities in drill seeded plots may have resulted from soil disturbance coupled with extremely low precipitation rather than competitive effects. Nevertheless, as seeded species mature and increase their competitive ability, we predict long-term suppression of cheatgrass in the absence of further disturbance.