Susan E. Meyer
Members of the rabbitbrush genus - Chrysothamnus spp. - are among the best-known of western shrubs (Johnson 1987; McArthur and Welch 1986; McArthur and others 2004, 1979). The genus is endemic to western North America and is made up of 16 species (Anderson 1986; McArthur and Meyer 1987). It has recently been partially subsumed under the new genus Ericameria, formerly...
C.A. Dicus; K. Delfino; D.R. Weise
We investigated potential fire behavior and various societal benefits (air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, and carbon storage) provided by woodlands of pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and juniper (Juniperus californica), shrublands of Great Basin sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa...
Berry, Kristin H.; Weigand, James F.; Gowan, Timothy A.; Mack, Jeremy S.
We studied recovery of 21 perennial plant species along a severely disturbed aqueduct corridor in a Larrea tridentata-Ambrosia dumosa plant alliance in the Mojave Desert 36 years after construction. The 97-m wide corridor contained a central dirt road and buried aqueduct pipeline. We established transects at 0 m (road verge), 20 m and 40 m into the disturbance corridor, and at 100 m in undisturbed habitat (the control). Although total numbers of shrubs per transect did not vary significantly with distance from the verge, canopy cover of shrubs, species richness, and species diversity were higher in the control than at the verge and other distances. Canopy cover of common shrubs (Ericameria nauseosa, Ambrosia salsola, A. dumosa, L. tridentata, Grayia spinosa) and perennial grasses (Elymus elymoides, Poa secunda) also varied significantly by location. Discriminant analysis clearly separated the four distances based on plant composition. Patterns of recovery were bidirectional: secondary succession from the control into the disturbance corridor and inhibition from the verge in the direction of the control. Time estimated for species composition to resemble the control is dependent on location within the disturbance corridor and could be centuries at the road verge. Our findings have applications to other deserts.
McWethy, D.B.; Austin, J.E.
Little information exists on breeding Greater Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) in riparian wetlands of the Intermountain West. We examined the nesting ecology of Sandhill Cranes associated with riparian and palustrine wetlands in the Henry's Fork Watershed in eastern Idaho in 2003. We located 36 active crane nests, 19 in riparian wetlands and 17 in palustrine wetlands. Nesting sites were dominated by rushes (Juncus spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), Broad-leaved Cattail (Typha latifolia) and willow (Salix spp.), and adjacent foraging areas were primarily composed of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.),Rabbitbrush (Ericameria bloomeri) bunch grasses, upland forbs, Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and cottonwood (Populus spp.). Mean water depth surrounding nests was 23 cm (SD = 22). A majority of nests (61%) were surrounded by vegetation between 3060 cm, 23% by vegetation 60 cm in height. We were able to determine the fate of 29 nests, of which 20 were successful (69%). Daily nest survival was 0.986 (95% LCI 0.963, UCI 0.995), equivalent to a Mayfield nest success of 0.654 (95% LCI 0.324, UCI 0.853). Model selection favored models with the covariates vegetation type, vegetation height, and water depth. Nest survival increased with increasing water depth surrounding nest sites. Mean water depth was higher around successful nests (30 cm, SD = 21) than unsuccessful nests (15 cm, SD 22). Further research is needed to evaluate the relative contribution of cranes nesting in palustrine and riparian wetlands distributed widely across the Intermountain West.
Uresk, D.W.; Cline, J.F.; Rickard, W.H.
A fecal pellet analyses showed that black-tailed hares (jackrabbits) were selective in plants chosen as food. The most abundant herbaceous plant, cheatgrass, was not found in the pellets. Sagebrush and bitterbrush, woody plants, were not an important part of the hares' diet. Forbs, rabbitbrush, and certain grass species were preferred foods. (auth)
Dennis M. Bramble; Jean C. Bramble
Rapid and substantial reductions in the local density of invasive rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) have been achieved on a shrub-infested meadow complex solely by manipulating grazing so as to benefit the native meadow vole, Microtus montanus. The key adjustment has been a shift from spring-summer to late season grazing...
In dryland areas around the world, vegetation plays an important role in stabilizing soil and encouraging recharge. In the Colorado high desert of the San Luis Valley, windstorms strip away topsoil and deposit dust on the surrounding mountain snowpack. Dust-on-snow lowers albedo and hastens melting, which in turn lowers infiltration and aquifer recharge. Since the 1990s, the San Luis Valley has experienced a sharp decline in aquifer levels due to over-development of its water resources. Where agricultural abstraction is significant, the unconfined aquifer has experienced a 9 m (30 ft) drop. Over the course of three years, this dryland hydrology study analyzed rain, snow, surface and ground water across a 20,000 km2 high desert area to establish a baseline of water inputs. δ18O and δ2H were analyzed to develop a LMWL specific to this region of the southern Rockies and isotopic differences were examined in relation to chemistry to understand environmental influences on meteoric waters. This work identifies a repeating pattern of acid rainfall with trace element contaminants, including actinides.To better understand how the area's dominant vegetation responds to a lowered water table, 76 stem water samples were collected from the facultative phreatophyte shrubs E. nauseosa and S. vermiculatus over the summer, fall, spring, and summer of 2015 and 2016 from study plots chosen for increasing depths to groundwater. This research shows distinct patterns of water capture strategy and seasonal shifts among the E. nauseosa and S. vermiculatus shrubs. These differences are most apparent where groundwater is most accessible. However, where the water table has dropped 6 m (20 feet) over the last decade, both E. nauseosa and S. vermiculatus survive only on near-surface snowmelt and rain.
Sheldon, J.K.; Rogers, L.E.
The purpose of this study was to determine the taxonomic composition, abundance, and food habits of grasshopper populations inhabiting the 200 Area plateau. Two sites were selected for detailed study, one near the B-C Cribs control zone and the other near the former REDOX Pond. A total of 14 grasshopper species were collected from the B-C Cribs study area and 16 species from the REDOX Pond area. Thirteen of these species occurred at both locations. Population density was low throughout most of the spring, increased in late May, and reached a peak of about 4 grasshoppers per square meter in early July. A dietary analysis showed that 7 of the 28 species of vascular plants recorded from the area were major components in grasshopper diets. These included needle-and-thread grass (Stipa comata), turpentine cymopterus (Cymopterus terebinthinus), Carey's balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana), western tansymustard (Descurainia pinnata), Jim Hill mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum), big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus). The plant most heavily utilized was big sagebrush, followed by turpentine cymopterus, green rabbitbrush, and Carey's balsamroot. Other species were less frequently eaten. Several plants were present in the diet at a much higher frequency than they occurred in the environment, indicating that they were preferred food items.
Kleinhesselink, Andrew R; Magnoli, Susan M; Cushman, J Hall
Ecosystem-engineering plants modify the physical environment and can increase species diversity and exotic species invasion. At the individual level, the effects of ecosystem engineers on other plants often become more positive in stressful environments. In this study, we investigated whether the community-level effects of ecosystem engineers also become stronger in more stressful environments. Using comparative and experimental approaches, we assessed the ability of a native shrub (Ericameria ericoides) to act as an ecosystem engineer across a stress gradient in a coastal dune in northern California, USA. We found increased coarse organic matter and lower wind speeds within shrub patches. Growth of a dominant invasive grass (Bromus diandrus) was facilitated both by aboveground shrub biomass and by growing in soil taken from shrub patches. Experimental removal of shrubs negatively affected species most associated with shrubs and positively affected species most often found outside of shrubs. Counter to the stress-gradient hypothesis, the effects of shrubs on the physical environment and individual plant growth did not increase across the established stress gradient at this site. At the community level, shrub patches increased beta diversity, and contained greater rarified richness and exotic plant cover than shrub-free patches. Shrub effects on rarified richness increased with environmental stress, but effects on exotic cover and beta diversity did not. Our study provides evidence for the community-level effects of shrubs as ecosystem engineers in this system, but shows that these effects do not necessarily become stronger in more stressful environments.
Ward, Andy L.; Linville, Jenifer K.; Keller, Jason M.; Seedahmed, Gamal H.
considerable cost savings without any loss in accuracy. A relatively high coverage of native plants still persists after the initial revegetation in 1994. The formerly irrigated treatments continue to show greater cover of grasses and litter than the non-irrigated treatments. On the formerly irrigated treatments, the mean cover class was 25 to 50 percent for both grasses and shrubs. On the non-irrigated treatments, the mean cover class was 5 to 25 percent from grasses and 25 to 50 percent for shrubs. Species diversity of the vegetative community appears to have stabilized over the past several years. In addition to 12 of 17 species present in 2003 being present in 2004, two additional species were encountered. Sagebrush continues to flourish with shrubs along the perimeter showing higher biomass yield than the interior shrubs. There is evidence of sagebrush seedlings recruitment but not of rabbitbrush; the presence of gray rabbitbrush appears is declining as the barrier surface continues to stabilize. Use of the barrier surface by insects and small mammals is also evident. Small mammal burrowing on the barrier surface has become more prevalent in recent years, suggesting that the restored barrier surface is beginning to function as a recovering ecosystem. Small-mammal burrowing on the top and sides of the barrier is most prevalent on the finer-grained and disturbed soils while active ant mounds were observed on the northern and western slopes.
LaGory, K.E.; Van Lonkhuyzen, R.A.
Four hydropower operational scenarios at Flaming Gorge Dam were evaluated to determine their potential effects on riparian vegetation along the Green River in Utah and Colorado. Data collected in June 1992 indicated that elevation above the river had the largest influence on plant distribution. A lower riparian zone occupied the area between the approximate elevations of 800 and 4,200-cfs flows--the area within the range of hydropower operational releases. The lower zone was dominated by wetland plants such as cattail, common spikerush, coyote willow, juncus, and carex. An upper riparian zone was above the elevation of historical maximum power plant releases from the dam (4,200 cfs), and it generally supported plants adapted to mesic, nonwetland conditions. Common species in the upper zone included box elder, rabbitbrush, grasses, golden aster, and scouring rush. Multispectral aerial videography of the Green River was collected in May and June 1992 to determine the relationship between flow and the areas of water and the riparian zone. From these relationships, it was estimated that the upper zone would decrease in extent by about 5% with year-round high fluctuation, seasonally adjusted high fluctuation, and seasonally adjusted moderate fluctuation, but it would increase by about 8% under seasonally adjusted steady flow. The lower zone would increase by about 13% for both year-round and seasonally adjusted high fluctuation scenarios but would decrease by about 40% and 74% for seasonally adjusted moderate fluctuation and steady flows, respectively. These changes are considered to be relatively minor and would leave pre-dam riparian vegetation unaffected. Occasional high releases above power plant capacity would be needed for long-term maintenance of this relict vegetation