Bromus hordeaceus



INTRODUCTORY


SPECIES : 
Bromus hordeaceus

AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : 
Howard, Janet L. 1998. Bromus hordeaceus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). 
Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].



ABBREVIATION : BROHOR SYNONYMS : Bromus mollis L. [22,38,50,59,83] B. molliformis Godron [92] B. arvensis L. [83] B. racemosus L. [83,92] = B. hordeaceus L. [35,49,56,93,95] B. h. ssp. molliformis (Godron) Maire [49] = B. h. ssp. molliformis (Lloyd) Maire & Weiller [56] SCS PLANT CODE : BRHO2 BRHOH BRHOM BRHOP BRHOT COMMON NAMES : soft chess soft brome TAXONOMY : Most North American systematists recognize Bromus hordeaceus L. as the scientific name of soft chess [35,49,56,93,95]. European systematists generally describe this entity as B. mollis L. [51,64]. Subspecies of soft chess occurring in North America are [56]: B. h. ssp. hordeaceus L. B. h. ssp. molliformis (Lloyd) Maire & Weiller B. h. ssp. pseudothominii P. Sm. B. h. ssp. thominei (Hardham ex Nyman) Victorin & Weiler Soft chess hybridizes with erect chess (B. erectus) [3] and intergrades occasionally with Japanese brome (B. japonicus) [95]. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES : Bromus hordeaceus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Soft chess is native to Eurasia, where it is most common in the Mediterranean region [61,95].  It has naturalized in all other continents except Antarctica [54,95].  Soft chess is widely distributed but scattered and uncommon in most of North America [35,38,54,59], ranging from coastal southern Alaska south to Baja California and east to Maine, North Carolina, and Texas [22,35,38,50,54,83].  Soft chess is most common in low-elevation valleys and foothills of California and southwestern Oregon where climate is mediterranean.  It is more abundant in mediterranean areas of California than in Mediterranean Europe [61]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES34  Chaparral-mountain shrub    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES42  Annual grasslands STATES :      AK  AZ  CA  CO  CT  ID  IL  KS  ME  MA      MI  MT  NE  NV  NM  ND  NC  OR  RI  SD      TX  UT  WA  WI  AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  ON      PE  PQ  SK  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K009  Pine-cypress forest    K026  Oregon oakwoods    K030  California oakwoods    K033  Chaparral    K034  Montane chaparral    K035  Coastal sagebrush    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K040  Saltbush-greasewood    K048  California steppe SAF COVER TYPES :    233  Oregon white oak    246  California black oak    248  Knobcone pine    249  Canyon live oak    250  Blue oak-foothills pine    255  California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :    201  Blue oak woodland    202  Coast live oak woodland    203  Riparian woodland    204  North coastal shrub    205  Coastal sage shrub    206  Chamise chaparral    207  Scrub oak mixed chaparral    208  Ceanothus mixed chaparral    209  Montane shrubland    214  Coastal prairie    215  Valley grassland    414  Salt desert shrub HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Soft chess is typically dominant in annual grassland communities of California and southwestern Oregon [9,61,63].  It is an important component of some sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe and palouse prairie communities of eastern Washington and Oregon and southern Idaho, especially where cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is a community dominant [24,82].  Soft chess is not usually important in other plant communities in which it occurs [38,54,76,83]. California annual grassland - The native prairie that occurred on coastal and inland valleys of California and southwestern Oregon has been almost entirely replaced by annual grassland, agricultural land, or urban areas [9,19,41,45].  Conversion from native prairie to annual grassland occurred in less than two hundred years [45,61].  Soft chess is thought to have naturalized in native California prairie in about 1860 [45].  Species composition of native grasslands was poorly documented and will always be open to debate [96].  Most experts agree that coastal prairie and mesic inland valleys were dominated by perennial bunchgrasses [10,11,20,45,61].  Drier inland valleys may have been dominated by native annual grasses [8].  Hoover [52] argued that most native California prairie was dominated by annual forbs. Species composition in California annual grassland is complex and varied:  Even slight differences in climate, topography, and soil type can alter species composition [45,61].  However, soft chess dominates California annual grassland communities more often than any other plant species [45,46,47].  In Pinnacles National Monument, for example, soft chess has 26 percent cover and 100 percent frequency:  It is the most commonly occurring seed plant in the Monument [41].  Even where it is not dominant, soft chess is usually an important component of annual grassland vegetation [45,61]. Publications describing plant communities in which soft chess is a dominant part of the vegetation are listed below. Plant communities of Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park [19]   Vegetation and floristics of Pinnacles National Monument [41] Valley grassland [45] Coastal prairie and northern coastal scrub [47] Plant associations within the Interior Valleys of the Umpqua River   Basin, Oregon [85] Plant species commonly associated with soft chess in California and southwestern Oregon are listed below. California: annual grassland - Broad-leaved filaree (Erodium botrys) commonly codominates with soft chess throughout California annual grassland.  Red brome (B. rubens) and cutleaf filaree (E. cicutarium) are also common associates, usually replacing soft chess and broad-leaved filaree as dominants in portions of the Central Valley where annual precipitation is less than 12 inches (305 mm) [9].  Other common annuals include ripgut brome (B. rigidus), slender oat (Avena barbata), wild oat (A. fatua), rattail fescue (Vulpia myuros), bur clover (Medicago hispida), and yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis).  Native perennial associates include purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), melic grass (Melica californica), California oatgrass (Danthonia californica), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), Spanish clover (Lotus americanus), and ground lupine (Lupinus bicolor) [16,47]. California hardwoods:  Soft chess is dominant to common in the understory of oak (Quercus spp.) and other upland hardwood types. Upland tree associates of soft chess not previously listed in SAF COVER TYPES include valley oak (Q. lobata), tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), California black walnut (Juglans californica), and California buckeye (Aesculus californica) [61,87,88].  Soft chess also occurs in Fremont cottonwood/willow (Populus fremontii/Salix spp.) and other riparian types [97]. Oregon:  annual grassland - Soft chess/hedgehog dogtail (Cynosurus schinatus) communities occur on grassy balds of the Umpqua River Basin. Associated grasses include California oatgrass, pine bluegrass (P. scabrella), Sandberg bluegrass, and bottlebrush squirreltail [85]. Oregon white oak - Associates of soft chess in Oregon white oak (Q. garryana) communities of southwestern Oregon include California brome (B. carinatus), sheep fescue (Festuca ovina), birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), California black oak (Q. kelloggii), poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), blue wildrye (E. glaucus), rough bluegrass (P. trivalis), and burr chervil (Anthriscus caucalis) [78]. Basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata) - At the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, soft chess associates in basin big sagebrush communities include Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), cheatgrass, western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), smallflower woodlandstar (Lithaphragma parviflora), and western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) [82]. A medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae)-rattail fescue-soft brome community has been described in a bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass habitat type near Pendleton, Oregon [18].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES : Bromus hordeaceus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Soft chess is nutritious and palatable forage.  Sampson and others [81] rated it the best forage of all California's annual bromes.  The awns are short and soft, and livestock graze soft chess even after seeds mature.  Because soft chess matures later than most annual grasses and the seeds do not readily shatter, cattle graze it well into summer, gaining extra nutrition from the seeds [80,81]. Use of soft chess by native ungulates may be sparse in some areas.  In Point Reyes National Park, California, tule elk and mule deer avoided soft chess and ripgut brome.  Although grasses were the primary component in the fall diets of tule elk, the elk used the annual bromes very little.  Grasses were less important in the diets of mule deer, but annual bromes were the least preferred of the grass species that the mule deer grazed [37]. PALATABILITY : In Montana and Utah, palatability of soft chess has been rated fair for wild and domestic ungulates, small mammals, small nongame birds, and upland game birds.  Palatability was rated poor for waterfowl in Utah [26]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Nutritional content of fresh, immature soft chess was as follows [73]: Protein (N x 6.25, %)           Potassium (%)     4.00   cattle          14.2          Ash (%)          12.2   domestic goats  14.5          Crude fiber (%)  24.2   horses          13.8          Calcium (%)       0.59   rabbits         13.5          Phosphorus (%)    0.39   domestic sheep  14.9 COVER VALUE : In Utah, cover value of soft chess for small mammals, small nongame birds, and upland game birds was rated fair.  Cover value for waterfowl was rated poor [26]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Soft chess is planted for hay.  The seed is commercially available [22,25]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Annual grasslands - Soft chess and other exotic annuals probably replaced native California prairie because native perennial grasses were severely overgrazed over several periods of extended drought [45,61,74]. Annual grasses are far more prolific seed producers than are perennials. Once established, soft chess and other annual grasses probably interfered greatly with perennial grass regrowth, seed production, and seedling establishment [61].  In a greenhouse experiment, soft chess has also been shown to interfere with seedling establishment of coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis), a native chaparral shrub [23].  Soft chess and other exotic annuals can probably not be eliminated from the California flora [45,58,61].  Although some fire and grazing treatments have reduced soft chess and other annuals, results have been mixed. Control:  grazing - Soft chess may be partially controlled by spring grazing.  Defoliation within a week after flowering has been found to be effective in reducing seed formation in annual bromes [30].  Laude [67] found that removing terminal buds of soft chess prevented leaf elongation and seed production.  Treatments of spring grazing and fall fire have been successful in reducing soft chess (see FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS). No grazing - Attempts to reduce reduce soft chess cover by cessation of grazing have sometimes succeeded.  In the short term, cover of soft chess and other annuals declined after cattle were removed from Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California, in 1984.  The next 3 years were droughty, but native perennial cover increased relative to cover of annuals despite low rainfall [88].  Cessation of grazing also reduced soft chess in an upper riparian zone in eastern Oregon.  On plots with 10 years of late summer cattle grazing, soft chess cover increased greatly:  Cover on grazed plots was 1.7 percent the first year of the study and 47.5 percent in the tenth year.  On exclosures, cover of soft chess declined over the 10-year study period [39].  However, Heady [45] found that in Mendocino County, California, soft chess and other annuals continued to dominate the Hopland Field Station despite protection from grazing for at least 40 years. Fire - Studies using prescribed fire to control soft chess are discussed in the FIRE EFFECTS section.

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES : Bromus hordeaceus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Soft chess is a cool-season exotic grass [38,49,50].  It is usually an annual but is sometimes a biennial in the Great Basin and the Northeast [35,95].  The erect to ascending plants are 4.4 to 26 inches (11-65 cm) tall.  Soft chess is generally pubescent, but culms and/or spikelets are occasionally glabrous [50].  Awns are straight and from 0.16 to 0.4 inch (4-10 mm) long [95]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Therophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : As an annual, soft chess regenerates entirely from seed.  Soft chess is mostly self-pollinating [55].  Seed set insufficient to maintain soft chess populations has not been observed in the field [17,43].  Ewing and Menke [27,28] found that drought reduced average mass and number of seed, but some plants produced seed even under severe drought conditions.  Viable seeds germinate in their first autumn.  Little seed is carried over from year to year in the seedbank [27,28,98], although dry-stored soft chess seed may remain viable for decades [53]. Germination is best on a seedbed of moderate mulch, but some seed germinates without mulch [7,9].  In the laboratory, soft chess required stratification to germinate [31,32], but not light [31].  Temperature range for germination is wide, with best germination occurring between 50 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (10-30 deg C) [4,31].  Seeds become dormant with freezing temperatures or temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 deg C) [31,55].  Most germinating seeds survive the sporadic cycles of wetting and drying that are common in fall in mediterranean climates. Flood [31] found that in the greenhouse, germination rates of soft chess seed were actually better when seeds were exposed to several cycles of wetting and drying. Seedling establishment is limited by freezing temperature and exposure to drying.  At the Hopland Field Station, California, soft chess coverage was best when germination was followed by warm autumn nights. Ripgut brome became dominant in years when temperatures fell below freezing in October and November [46].  Survival of soft chess seedlings is enhanced by moisture-retaining clay substrates or mulches [46,47,57]. Kay [57] reported that seedling establishment of soft chess on decomposed granite was 17 times greater when straw mulch was applied. Soft chess seedlings grow rapidly.  Rate of greenhouse-grown soft chess seedlings was as follows [23]:   Age       root length     shoot length (weeks)        (cm)             (cm) _______     ___________     ____________    1            7.2              4.3    5           18.0              6.0    9           50.0              8.0  SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Soft chess occurs mostly in waste places in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and the East [35,38,54,59]. Soils and aspect:  Soft chess grows on a variety of soil types including serpentine and caliche [19,72,80].  Best growth occurs on clay loam and sandy soils [80].  In inland California, soft chess is most common on deep, clayey soils [2] receiving 26 to 40 inches (650-1,000 mm) of annual precipitation [12].  On the coast, it is most common on sandy soils [47].  In Somewhere, California, McNaughton [72] found that soft chess occurred on all aspects but was most common on southwest slopes. Climate:  Dry mediterranean climates are most favorable to soft chess. Soft chess is probably more common in California than in its native Mediterranean because the drier California climate favors establishment of annual grasses over perennial herbs and shrubs.  The relatively moister climate of the Mediterranean favors perennials [61]. Outside mediterranean regions of California and southwestern Oregon, soft chess is most common in the cold climates of the Pacific Northwest [50] and in northern portions of the Great Basin [95].  It is uncommon in warm desert regions [49,59].  Soft chess is probably not well adapted to the climate of the Southeast:  It does not occur further south than North Carolina, where it is very rare [76]. Elevation:  Soft chess occurs at the following elevations: California   below 6,300 feet (2,100 m) [49] Colorado     5,000 to 9,200 feet (1,500-2,800 m) [42] Utah         4,220 to 8,350 feet (1,280-2,530 m) [95] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Soft chess occurs on newly disturbed sites, in mid-succession, and on sites left undisturbed for decades [24,45,61]. California annual grassland - In the absence of disturbance, soft chess and other annual grasses tend to increase at the expense of forbs and perennial grasses [40,45].  Heady [45] found soft chess was an important component of California annual grassland that had not been burned or grazed by livestock for at least 40 years.  Mulch, which accumulates in the absence of heavy grazing and/or fire, tends to favor germination of soft chess and other annual bromes over forbs and perennial grasses [45].  Heady and others [46] reported that soft chess decreased on heavily grazed sites, probably because grazing removed mulch.  Over 3 years, soft chess coverage increased greatly (from 0.9% to 37.3%) on a newly disturbed site on the Hopland Field Station.  However, soft chess coverage remained below 2 percent on plots where mulch was mechanically removed in each of the 3 years [45]. Chaparral - Soft chess and other annual grasses may be successional to chaparral shrubs on some sites.  Repeated burning, often intentional for the purpose of "type-conversion" of chaparral to grassland, has eliminated woody species on some sites.  In the absence of heavy grazing and/or fire, woody plants have recolonized some of these burned sites [21,61,69].  Equilibrium dynamics of annual grassland and chaparral are not well understood, however, and probably differ by site.  On level terrain with heavy clay soil, soft chess and other annual grasses are apparently stable and do not succeed to woody shrubs [61].  Woody species may displace annuals on nutrient-poor, rocky slopes [79]. Palouse prairie - In old-field succession on a bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass habitat type in eastern Washington, soft chess was an important component of the vegetation on new fields, young fields (1-12 years since cultivation), and old fields (39-52 years since cultivation).  Soft chess cover (percent) was as follows [24]:                             Time since cultivation                                    ___________________________________________________________          New field     1 year     12 years     39 years     52 years          _________     ______     ________     ________     ________            1.25         0.10        1.55         1.30         0.12  SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Soft chess germinates and begins growth in fall [28,46].  Vegetative growth slows or stops early in winter and resumes early the next growing season [28].  Flowering occurs in early spring. Seeds mature later in the season than do seeds of most annual grass species.  In California, soft chess seed matures in early summer.  Seeds do not readily shatter upon maturity and are shed about a month after ripening [46,80]. Phenological development of soft chess on the central coast of California was as follows [46]:                            1971            1972                         __________      ___________ vegetative growth       early Feb.      early Feb. boot stage              mid-March       early April flowering begins        mid-April       mid-April peak flowering          late April      mid-April flowering ends          late May        mid-May seeds ripen             early June      late May plant dies              late June       late May seeds disperse             ----         early Aug. Soft chess flowers from May to July in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Great Basin [22,51].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES : Bromus hordeaceus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Fire autecology:  Summer and fall fires have no direct effect on soft chess.  Soft chess has usually senesced and shattered seed when the fire season starts.  The seed is not killed until fire temperatures rise above approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 deg C).  Since grassland fires are usually fast-burning and relatively "cool," soft chess seed is usually not damaged by fire [71,80].  Fire can affect relative abundance of soft chess in the postfire plant community, however [61,82].  Fire removes mulch, which favors annual forbs over soft chess.  Some soft chess germinates the fall after fire, but best germination occurs in mid-succession, when mulch layer is moderate [7,9]. Fire regimes:  California native grassland - Data are lacking to quantify intensity and frequency of fire in pristine California prairie. It is generally accepted that lightning-caused fire was part of the evolutionary history of California prairie.  The California Division of Forestry reported an average of 312 lightning-ignited fires per year in its fire protection area, which is 43 percent woodland-annual grassland. Frequency of lightning-caused fires was probably at least as great in the presettlement era [45]. Native Americans may have used frequent fire to enhance production of edible perennial bunchgrass seeds [13].  Fire enhances flowering and seedling recruitment for some perennial bunchgrasses native to California prairie including purple needlegrass [62] and bottlebrush squirreltail [99].  Both species show mass flowering after fire and require mineral soil for establishment [36,60]. Annual grassland - Since California annual grassland has existed for less than two hundred years, it has no evolutionary history of fire. Like the perennial grassland that preceded it, however, California annual grassland is a fire-tolerant ecosystem [61].  Studies attempting to promote native perennial bunchgrasses over exotic annuals by using prescribed fire have had mixed results.  These results are summarized in FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES : Bromus hordeaceus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire has little direct effect on soft chess.  Wildland and prescribed fires usually occur after soft chess has dried and shattered seed [44,45,46]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Fire may reduce soft chess in the short term [48].  Species composition in the postfire plant community is difficult to predict, however. Year-to-year plant composition in annual grassland is highly dependent upon local weather patterns, and even slight differences in annual precipitation can alter species assemblages [61].  Fall weather patterns, especially interactions of precipitation and temperature after rainfall, appear to be overriding factors in soft chess establishment [45,46,57]. Fire affects plant species composition in annual grasslands largely by removing mulch, which affects germination and seedling establishment rates of soft chess relative to associated herbaceous species. Bartolome [7,9] found that soft chess reached highest densities when mulch biomass was at intermediate levels.  Little quaking grass (Briza minor) was favored when mulch biomass was low, as it would be in the immediate postfire environment.  Fescues (Vulpia and Festuca spp.) were favored when mulch biomass was high.  Heady [45] reported that without heavy grazing the mulch layer usually recovers by postfire year 3, and soft chess and other annual bromes regain dominance. Decreases with fire:  Hansen [40] found that fall prescribed fire in Tulare County, California, significantly increased dominance of annual forbs relative to soft chess.  Greatest reduction soft chess and other annual grasses (and greatest increase of annual forbs) was achieved by 3 years of successive fall burning.  Response of native grasses was similar to that of soft chess:  Native grasses were reduced by fall burning, with greatest reduction achieved after 3 years of consecutive fall burning.  Percent cover of soft chess the spring after fall burning follows.         unburned     single     twice-     thrice-                      control      burn      burned     burned         ________     ______     ______     _______       1982       10          <1         --         -- 1983        8           5          2         -- 1984       23          44         16          2 1985       12          23         15         10 A July 1947 prescription fire reduced soft chess on ungrazed annual grassland near Berkeley, California.  Precipitation in the fall and winter of 1947-1948 was slightly below average for the area (20.4 inches with the average being 22.6 inches).  Average height and yield of soft chess on two burned and two unburned sites in May of 1948 was as follows [48]:                   burned     unburned                   ______     ________ height (cm)   exclosure I      29.9        29.9   exclosure II     35.0        39.1 yield (g)    exclosure I       0.8         3.1   exclosure II      4.6        13.9   Mixed effects: Chaparral and oak woodland - Density of soft chess increased greatly from prefire levels 5 years after prescribed fall burning in a nonsprouting manzanita-Lemmon ceanothus (Arctostaphylos spp.-Ceanothus lemmonii) community in Mendocino County.  However, density of soft chess had changed little 5 years after prescribed fall fires in nearby nonsprouting manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.)-Lemmon ceanothus and interior live oak-blue oak (Quercus wislizenii-Q. douglasii) woodland communities.  Average density (plants/milacre) of soft chess was [80]:                                         Postfire year                                   ______________________________ Community             Prefire   1     2      3      4      5 _____________________________________________________________ nonsprouting manzanita-ceanothus     0.0    2.8   7.3   11.2   24.6   30.3 sprouting manzanita-ceanothus     0.3    4.1   6.5    3.8    5.1    2.8 live oak-blue oak       1.5    6.6   6.7    5.8    3.0    1.3 No effect:  Neither spring nor fall prescribed fire had significant effect on soft chess in annual grassland of Sequoia National Park, California.  Precipitation averaged about 200 percent of normal during postfire years 1 to 4.  Soft chess formed an important component of the vegetation (between 10 and 27%) on plots measured before fire and on spring-burned, fall-burned, and unburned plots measured 4 years after fire [75]. Sagebrush steppe - In central Idaho, fire had little effect on soft chess coverage in either the long term or the short term.  A long-term study was conducted above the Snake River Canyon, after a July wildfire occurred 1961 in a rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus)-cheatgrass community.  At postfire year 12, soft chess had declined on both burned and adjacent unburned plots.  (Weather data were not given.)  Soft chess coverage was as follows [24]:                        Unburned                 Burned                  ____________________     ___________________ Postfire year      2      4      12         2      4     12                  ____   ____    _____     _____  _____  _____                  4.80   1.45    trace     trace  trace  trace A short-term study was conducted nearby when an August 1972 wildfire occurred in a rubber rabbitbrush-cheatgrass stand within the Snake River Canyon.  The following spring, soft chess frequency was 21 percent on unburned plots and 18 percent on burned plots [24]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Fall and spring prescribed burning in east-central Oregon had no significant effect on soft chess frequency in postfire year 1 or 2 [81]. See the Research Project Summary of this study for more information on fire effects on soft chess and 60 additional grasses, forbs, and woody plant species. See the PDF of Hansen's [40] thesis, The effect of fire and fire frequency on grassland species composition in California's Tulare Basin, for information on the response of soft chess and other herbs to prescribed fire in an annual grassland community. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : California:  annual grassland - Use of prescribed fire to increase the balance of natives relative to non-natives such as soft chess has had mixed results.  In all cases, "remnant" California prairie contains exotic annuals, and attempts to eliminate the exotics have been unsuccessful [61].  However, fire sometimes tips the balance toward natives.  Perennial bunchgrasses are well adapted to frequent fire [20,94].  Some authors have reported that fire favors native bunchgrassses over exotic annuals [1,70].  However, Garcia and Lathrop [33] reported no increase in purple needlegrass after burning, and Lathrop and Martin [66] found that native deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) decreased under some burning regimes.  In view of the differences in phenology and life histories between perennial bunchgrasses and annual grasses such as soft chess, it would be instructive to know how burning in different seasons affects the ratio of native to non-natives.  Since annual grasses produce seed about a month earlier than perennial grasses, precise timing of burning may alter the balance of reproductive success between annual and perennial grasses [61]. When used with prescribed grazing, fire may favor purple needlegrass and reduce soft chess and other annual grasses.  Langstrotti [65] found that on the Jepson Prairie (a relict perennial grassland reserve in Solano County, California), short-term, intensive grazing by domestic sheep in early spring (late March or early April) combined with late summer (early September) prescribed fire favored tillering and seedling establishment of purple needlegrass over exotic annual grasses including soft chess.  Purple needlegrass had been declining on the reserve for a number of years.  Frequency of soft chess was significantly reduced (p=0.05) by early spring grazing and late summer fire.  The treatments reduced soft chess cover to less than 2 percent.  Early spring grazing reduced average seed mass, and the number of soft chess seeds was reduced by 76 percent (p=0.25).  Late summer fire reduced soft chess cover by 50 percent (p<0.001).  Summer grazing and late summer fire also reduced soft chess, but not as much.  Data from the spring grazing/late summer fire treatments follow.                             grazed-     ungrazed-                                  burnt      unburned                             _______    __________ soft chess frequency (%)      39.7         3.0 soft chess seeds/sq dm       198       1,343 soft chess seed mass (mg)      0.57        0.97 Effects of postfire seeding of ryegrass on soft chess:  Seeding Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) to reduce postfire erosion had little effect on postfire growth of soft chess and other exotic bromes in southern California chaparral.  Coverage of annual bromes was similar on unseeded plots and on plots seeded with Italian ryegrass [15]. Oregon: big sagebrush - Prescribed fire had little effect on soft chess in a basin big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass community in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon.  Weather patterns occurring after fire greatly influenced plant community composition, however.  One study area was prescribed burned on September 25, 1987; an adjacent study area was prescribed burned on May 24, 1988.  Prescription burning was followed by 3 years of drought, which appeared to greatly reduce soft chess cover.  By the third postfire year, soft chess was absent from all treatments including the unburned control.  Density of other annual grass species was also greatly reduced on all treatments including the unburned control.  Density of annual forbs increased on all plots, and density of native perennial grasses did not change.  Density of woody shrub species was greatly reduced on burned plots but did not change on control plots.  Average density of soft chess (plants/sq m) on unburned control, fall-burned, and spring-burned plots is given below.  Numbers in parenthesis are the standard errors of the mean; different letters denote a significant difference between years (p<0.1) [82].                  1987      1988      1989                 _________   _______   ______ control       160a (87)    0b (0)   0b (0)  fall burn      82a (28)   10b (8)   0b (0) spring burn    --         37a (16)  0b (0) FIRE CASE STUDIES : NO-ENTRY

References for species: Bromus hordeaceus


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