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New Invasive Annual Grass Book Addresses Critical Questions for the Western U.S.

26 / 01 / 2016, USGC

Summary:

Cheatgrass in the Santa Rosa Range, Nevada. Photographer credit: Photo courtesy of Nolan Preece.

 

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp, USGS

( Phone: 541-750-1047
);

Cass Cairns, USFS

( Phone: 970-498-1370
);

Cheatgrass in the Santa Rosa Range, Nevada. Photographer credit: Photo courtesy of Nolan Preece.

 
^_BOISE, Idaho — Bromus species – such as cheatgrass – are exotic annual grasses that have become the dominant annual grasses in the western hemisphere. Their spread and impacts across the western U.S. continue despite the many attempts by land managers to control these species. A new book edited by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State University was released today and answers critical research, planning and management questions about these species.
Sagebrush habitat is essential for the survival of the greater sage-grouse and other wildlife species as well as for economic activities, such as ranching and recreation.  The Department of Interior Secretarial Order 3336 on Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management and Restoration directly addresses the need for additional science and research to unlock the key to controlling invasive exotic Bromus grasses and developing tools to protect and support resistant and resilient sagebrush landscapes in the United States.
“There are nearly 150 species of Bromus globally,” said Matthew Germino, USGS ecologist and lead editor of the new book. “Despite extensive research on the grass species that have invaded the western U.S., land managers still face challenges in controlling the spread and impact of these grasses across the landscape.”
The book titled “Exotic Brome-Grasses in Arid and Semiarid Ecosystems of the Western U.S.: Causes, Consequences, and Management Implications,” synthesizes available literature on the biology, ecology, sociology and economics of Bromus grasses to develop a more complete picture of the factors that influence their invasiveness, impacts and management in the western U.S.
The synthesis helps to answer questions on:

The effects of environmental factors on Bromus species distributions
Arid and semiarid ecosystem attributes and processes that influence resistance to invasion by Bromus
Traits of Bromus species that contribute to their invasiveness
Impacts of Bromus invasions on ecosystems
Effects of pathogens on Bromus invasions and their potential for biocontrol
Effects of land uses on Bromus invasions
Management options for exotic annual Bromus and their application
Socioeconomic drivers and patterns of human response to Bromus invasion

“The risks and problems associated with Bromus have been known in the U.S. for decades, but much of the past research was done to answer questions at local scales and focused on only a few causal factors,” said Jeanne Chambers, USFS research ecologist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and co-editor. “Today, Bromus grass impacts are large scale and influenced by many interacting factors requiring a more holistic approach.”
The book is the result of funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Education Network – or REEnet – which brought together a diverse range of public agency and university specialists from around the United States to generate and refine ideas on Bromus grasses. Lessons learned from this synthesis can be used to address impacts of species like cheatgrass on the sagebrush-steppe, a habitat that supports over 350 wildlife species, including greater sage-grouse.
Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  Implementation of effective management actions for the benefit of sage-grouse continues to be a focus of Department of the Interior agencies following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

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