Carex filifolia



INTRODUCTORY


 

Photo courtesy of Thayne Tuason

AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Hauser, A. Scott. 2006. Carex filifolia. 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/ [].

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
CARFIL

SYNONYMS:
C.f. Nutt. var. erostrata Kkenth.
   =Carex filifolia [99]
C.f.
Nutt. var. filifolia Nutt.
   =Carex filifolia [99]

NRCS PLANT CODE [174]:
CAFI

COMMON NAMES:
threadleaf sedge
thread-leaf sedge
thread-leaved sedge
shorthair sedge

TAXONOMY:
The currently accepted scientific name of threadleaf sedge is Carex filifolia Nutt. (Cyperaceae) [3,17,44,52,53,54,69,89,90,96,99,100,102,108,116,180,181,182]. There are no recognized varieties.

LIFE FORM:
Graminoid

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
None


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Carex filifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Threadleaf sedge has a contiguous distribution. It occurs from California, north to Alaska, east to Manitoba, and south to Nebraska and New Mexico [3,17,44,52,53,54,69,89,90,96,99,100, 102,108,116,180,181,182]. The Flora of North America provides a distributional map of threadleaf sedge.

ECOSYSTEMS [64]:
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES
AK AZ CA CO ID KS
MN MT NE NV NM ND
OR SD UT WA WY

CANADA
AB BC MB NT SK YK

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [13]:
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER [106] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking
K047 Fescue-oatgrass
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie

SAF COVER TYPES [58]:
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [154]:
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
102 Idaho fescue
103 Green fescue
104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
106 Bluegrass scabland
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
108 Alpine Idaho fescue
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
210 Bitterbrush
213 Alpine grassland
216 Montane meadows
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass
306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass
307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge
308 Idaho fescue-tufted hairgrass
309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue
324 Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
404 Threetip sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
407 Stiff sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
409 Tall forb
410 Alpine rangeland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama
704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass
708 Bluestem-dropseed
709 Bluestem-grama
710 Bluestem prairie
714 Grama-bluestem
715 Grama-buffalo grass
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
ALASKAN RANGELANDS
908 Fescue
910 Hairgrass
914 Mesic sedge-grass-herb meadow tundra
915 Mixed herb-herbaceous
916 Sedge-shrub tundra

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Threadleaf sedge is listed as a dominant species in the following vegetation classifications:

United States
CA:
Yosemite National Park meadows (monotypic community) [33,55]

CO:
Central Plains Experimental Range (codominant with saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)) [120]
Pawnee National Grasslands (codominant with broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), blue grama, and scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea)) [123]

ID:
Upper Snake River Plains (codominant with Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)) [128]

KS:
Northern mixed-prairie (codominant with blue grama and needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata)) [111]

MT:
Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, blue grama, Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), and Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus)) [45,74,75,76]
Havre (codominant with blue grama and needle-and-thread grass) [86]
Glendive mixed-grass prairie (codominant with western wheatgrass and blue grama) [167]
Square Butte (codominant with blue grama and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)) [194]
Custer National Forest (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, western wheatgrass, little bluestem, bluebunch wheatgrass, and fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)) [78]
Bull Mountains, Gravelly Range, and Pioneer Mountains (codominant with Idaho fescue) [126]

ND:
Dickinson Research Center mixed-grass prairie (codominant with western wheatgrass, prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), needle-and-thread grass, green needlegrass (Nassella viridula), and sun sedge (Carex heliophila)) [14]
Billings County mixed-grass prairie (codominant with blue grama and needle-and-thread grass) [18]
Little Missouri Badlands mixed-grass prairie (codominant with western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread grass, and blue grama) [20,49]
Nelson County (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, blue grama, and western wheatgrass) [48]
Sentinel Butte (codominant with blue grama, western wheatgrass, and needle-and-thread grass) [81]
Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park (codominant with blue grama, western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, and needle-and-thread grass) [79,84]
Ranger (codominant with interior ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum), western wheatgrass, blue grama, and needle-and-thread grass) [139]
Northern Great Plains Field Station (codominant with blue grama, western wheatgrass, and needle-and-thread grass) [144]

NE:
Scotts Bluff National Monument grasslands (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, western wheatgrass, cheatgrass (B. tectorum), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), and prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia)) [41]
Cherry County (codominant with needle-and-thread grass) [171]
Cedar Point Biological Station (codominant with blue grama) [101]

OR:
Horse Ridge (codominant with western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) and mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana)) [62,66]

SD:
Black Hills (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, western wheatgrass, prairie Junegrass, blue grama, buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), needleleaf sedge (Carex duriuscula), and bluebunch wheatgrass) [83]
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (codominant with blue grama, western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread grass, and needleleaf sedge) [110]
Wind Cave National Park (codominant with big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)) [196]
Badlands National Park (codominant with little bluestem, blue grama, and skunkbush sumac (R. trilobata)) [46]
Custer National Forest (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, western wheatgrass, little bluestem, bluebunch wheatgrass, and fragrant sumac) [78]

WY:
Shirley Basin (codominant with blue grama, western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread grass, bluebunch wheatgrass, Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis), and fringed sagebrush (A. frigida)) [94]
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, blue grama, prairie Junegrass, and western wheatgrass) [30]
Cheyenne (codominant with bluebunch wheatgrass and blue grama) [34]
Powder Rim (codominant with needle-and-thread grass) [131]
Cheyenne River Basin (codominant with blue grama) [169]

Regions:
Interior Columbia Basin (codominant with Idaho fescue) [23]
Northern Great Plains (codominant with blue grama and needle-and-thread grass) [39]
Great Plains shrubland (codominant with Wyoming big sagebrush) [152]

Canada
AB:
Southern provincial short-grass prairie (codominant with blue grama and Sandberg bluegrass) [31]
Agriculture Canada Research Substation (codominant with needle-and-thread grass, western wheatgrass, blue grama, Sandberg's bluegrass, and prairie Junegrass) [159]

SK:
Southwestern provincial short-grass prairie (codominants include blue grama and Sandberg bluegrass) [31]

YK:
Aishihik-Sekulmun lakes area grasslands (codominant with fringed sagebrush) [177]


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Carex filifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [3,17,44,82,89,90,96,108,129,182]).

Threadleaf sedge is a cool-season, sod-forming, drought-resistant, low-growing, native perennial graminoid [2,32,71,72,107,107,160,164,170,173]. It is densely tufted, with numerous leaf-bearing sheaths at the base [44,90,96,108,116,129,182] and grows in bunches approximately 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) in width [38,179]. Threadleaf sedge culms are slender, stiff and wiry [44,90], often curved [96], and 2 to 15 inches (5-38 cm) tall [3,17,44,71,82,90,108,129,182]. Leaves are mostly basal, stiff, strongly folded, very slender [44,90,108], and 1 to 8 inches (3-20 cm) long and 0.25 to 0.5 mm wide [3,17,71,82,129,182]. Threadleaf sedge is one of the few Carex spp. to contain alkaloids [85].

Threadleaf sedge is monoecious [165,173]. The spikelets are 0.4 to 1 inch (1-3 cm) long [3,44,82,90,108,129,182], up to 6 mm wide [44,82,90], and 3- to 25-flowered [165]. The flowers of threadleaf sedge are unisexual [17,44,71,82,90,116,129,165,182]. Fruits are achenes, 2.25 to 3 mm long and weigh approximately 2.9 mg [3,165].

The roots of threadleaf sedge are tough, wiry, and 0.8 mm or less in diameter [40,164]. Roots occur in "enormous numbers" and seldom descend vertically, but run away from and under the plant to distances of 2 to 2.5 feet (0.6-0.8 m) [26,179].

Eight threadleaf sedge plants excavated from a Saskatchewan grassland were found to grow obliquely downward in all directions to form a dense mat in the upper 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. The dense mat spread out as much as 15 inches (38 cm) from the base of the plant. The roots were profusely branched, excluding those closest to the crown. The longest lateral roots measured were 2 inches (5 cm). Most of the roots terminated growth at 12 to 24 inches (30-60 cm) below ground surface, though some were found to penetrate 30 inches (75 cm) below soil surface. At the point of termination, threadleaf sedge roots are densely branched with brush-like ends. Plants excavated in Colorado and South Dakota have exhibited a rooting depth of 5.2 feet (1.6 m) and a lateral spread of 32 inches (80 cm) [40].

RAUNKIAER [143] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Threadleaf sedge generally reproduces vegetatively via tillers, but does produce some viable seeds [72,93,165].

Pollination: Threadleaf sedge is wind pollinated [28].

Breeding system: Threadleaf sedge is monoecious [165,173].

Seed production: Threadleaf sedge produces very few viable seeds each year [72,170]. In the northern Great Plains, threadleaf sedge generally produces a poor seed crop since it flowers early and is susceptible to frost damage [151]. A threadleaf sedge plant collected in North Dakota contained a total of 232 seeds (viability not discussed) [161].

Seed dispersal: The seeds of threadleaf sedge are likely dispersed by wind.

Seed banking: Threadleaf sedge utilizes a soil seed bank [29].

Germination: In the field, threadleaf sedge seeds have a low rate of germination [72,170]. In a controlled study, stratified threadleaf sedge seeds did not germinate significantly (p<0.05) better than control seeds (33.3%). Scarification of threadleaf sedge seeds caused a significantly lower rate of germination than control seeds. Seeds that were cold-moist stratified at 41F (5 C) had germination rate of 25.3% to 40.1%, while seeds frozen-moist stratified at 19 F (− 7 C) had a germination rate 28.1% to 38.2%. Threadleaf sedge scarified with a razor germinated at a rate of 22.6% [72]. Threadleaf sedge seed viability does not decrease for at least 14 to 17 months when dry stored at room temperature [170].

Seedling establishment/growth: Threadleaf sedge seedlings in nature are rare [72,170]. On the northern Great Plains, seedlings of threadleaf sedge establish by the middle of March and grow to maturity by the 1st to middle of June [93]. To evaluate the establishment of seedlings, Griffin [72] planted threadleaf sedge plugs on the grasslands of Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska. Griffin planted sod plugs in fall (28 September to 3 October), late winter (6 March), and spring (26 to 27 May). At the end of 2 years of observations, the average rate of survival by seedlings was only 0.94%.

Asexual regeneration: Threadleaf sedge reproduces asexually from tillers [93,165].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Threadleaf sedge is generally found on warm, dry, well-drained, upper south-facing slopes [16,25,125,145]. Literature on threadleaf sedge describes it occurring on dry ridges [96,173], dry open places and dry meadows [44,90], dry rocky slopes and flats [100,129], dry plains and valleys [17,116,180,181], dry grasslands [108,180,181], and upland prairies [71,114]. Threadleaf sedge also grows on the tundra-steppe of Alaska on sites with favorable southern exposures [56,130].

Climate: Threadleaf sedge thrives under a continental climate regime in which 80% of precipitation falls during the growing season (April-September) [1,14,145]. Threadleaf sedge requires a minimum of 90 frost-free days and favors from 8 to 24 inches (200-610 mm) of average annual precipitation [174]. On the mixed-grass prairies of North Dakota where threadleaf sedge is often dominant, temperature extremes range from 109 F (43 C) in the summer to 47 F (44 C) in winter [59].

During the 1934 growing season, grasslands around Miles City, Montana, experienced a historic drought. Rainfall during the 1934 growing season was 3.53 inches (89.7 mm), down from a 57-year average of 9.32 inches (237 mm). Consequentially, threadleaf sedge plants were markedly shorter than in normal precipitation years and production was down 17% [57]. Near Mildred, Montana, the drought caused a significant (p<0.05) decrease in threadleaf sedge. Production of threadleaf sedge was reduced by 12% to 55% on silty and sandy sites [188].

Near Virginia City, Montana, cool July soil temperatures correlated (r = 0.77) with increased production of threadleaf sedge. The soil temperature was measured as electrical resistance, thus a negative coefficient meant a positive relationship with soil temperature. However, windy May conditions correlated (r = 0.83) with decreased growth in threadleaf sedge [127].

Elevation: Elevational ranges for threadleaf sedge are presented below:

State/Province Elevation
Alaska Up to 5,000 feet [56,96]
Arizona Up to 6,500 feet [102]
California Up to 11,000 feet [55,125]
Colorado 5,000 to 7,500 feet [82]
Montana 1,900 to 9,200 feet [1,45,63,126,127]
Nevada 5,000 to 8,500 feet [100]
New Mexico 5,000 to 7,000 feet [116]
North Dakota 1,000 to 2,600 feet [48,81]
Oregon Up to 4,500 feet [66]
South Dakota 900 to 7,200 feet [65,83,104]
Utah 5,000 to 7,300 feet [69,182]
Wyoming 5,400 to 9,200 feet [42,119]
Alberta 800 to 4,000 feet
Manitoba 800 to 4,000 feet
Saskatchewan 800 to 4,000 feet [38]
Yukon Territory 3,000 to 6,300 feet [91]

Soil: Threadleaf sedge is often found on well-drained, silty clay loam [45,49] and fine sandy loam soil [25,81]. On the Canadian mixed-grass prairie, threadleaf sedge grows on clay loam, loam, and light loam soils. Approximately 65% of threadleaf sedge growth occurs on light loam soils [38,95]. Threadleaf sedge can tolerate saline soils. On the Central Plains Experimental Range, Colorado, it occurs in saltgrass meadows in limited quantities on soils with a pH as high as 9.2 [120].

A month-by-month soil chemical analysis of a threadleaf sedge-dominated community in the Badlands of North Dakota is presented by Fairaizl [59].

A detailed review on soil constituents of a threadleaf sedge/western wheatgrass and a threadleaf sedge/blue grama/needle-and-thread grass community in western North Dakota is presented by Hanson and Whitman [81].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Threadleaf sedge can survive on disturbed sites, such as burns [61], is shade intolerant [91,174], and is most commonly found on late-seral sites. Forty years following the abandonment of plowed farmland in northeastern Colorado, threadleaf sedge appeared as a minor constituent of a mixed-grass prairie association. The mixed-grass prairie was preceded by a threeawn (Aristida spp.) stage which occurred 20 years after abandonment [36]. Threadleaf sedge is described as a "climax" species on Solonetz soils in western North Dakota [80], in the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park in North Dakota [84], and in the Black Hills of South Dakota [83]. Outside of Davenport, Washington, threadleaf sedge is described as a near "climax" species on mixed grasslands [117]. Threadleaf sedge occurs on "climax" grasslands of the Canadian [37] and Nebraska [171] mixed-grass prairie and on sandy, silty, and limey range sites, and eastern and western sedimentary plains in Montana [148].

In Kimball County, Nebraska, decades of grazing and periodic drought have replaced such mid-grasses as western wheatgrass and needle-and-thread grass with a short-grass disturbance "climax" of buffalo grass, blue grama, and threadleaf sedge [98]

In a remote area of the Little Missouri River Badlands in western North Dakota, 2 mesas which have never been grazed were analyzed. Threadleaf sedge, with a relative cover of 2.34%, is part of the "climax" community on the 2 mesas [140].

In a mixed-grass community in southwestern North Dakota, threadleaf sedge is a dominant species on secondary successional sites. Prior to 1950, threadleaf sedge was a subdominant species on grazed sites, but exclusion of cattle on a portion of the site led to the dominance of threadleaf sedge. The following table illustrates the increase in cover of threadleaf sedge on the secondary successional ungrazed site [18,19]:

  Basal cover (%)
1950 1951 1952 1959 1976 1977
Grazed 6.6 11.2 11.9 3.4 9.0 12.8
Ungrazed 23.4 38.5 40.8 33.8 52.0 58.4

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Across its range, threadleaf sedge generally flowers from April to May [22,69,90,125,165]. In dry grasslands, threadleaf sedge is considered an "early bird" species in a phenological sense because it flowers early and reaches annual maximum growth before other associated forage species [91,151,171]. On the northern Great Plains, threadleaf sedge begins growing in middle to late March. On 15 May the average leaf height is 4.2 inches (10.7 cm) and achieves a maximum leaf height of 5.0 inches (13 cm) by 10 June [92].On the mixed-grass prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, threadleaf sedge begins growth during the 1st week of April and the heads appear by the end of the month. Flowering occurs by mid-May, with seeds shedding by the 1st of July [38].

From 1946 to 1954 flowering data were collected on threadleaf sedge at the Experimental Farm, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. On average, threadleaf sedge begins flowering on 7 May, with the earliest and latest flowering dates occurring on 25 April and 25 May, respectively. The latest threadleaf sedge was observed in flower was 19 June and the mean flowering period was 30 days [22].

At the Dickinson Experimental Station in western North Dakota, threadleaf sedge mean leaf and stalk heights from April through June were measured and averaged for an 8-year period (1955-1962) and are presented in the table below [67]:

  April May June
8 15 22 29 1 8 15 22 29 1 8 15 22
Mean leaf height (cm) 1.5 3.0 3.0 5.5 6.3 7.0 8.2 8.9 10.1 10.3 10.4 10.4 10.6
Mean stalk height (cm) ---* --- --- 2.5 4.0 6.5 8.8 11.7 11.8 12.2 13.0 13.4 14.4
*No data

The phenological development of threadleaf sedge at the Cottonwood Range Field Station in southwestern South Dakota is presented below [32]:

Date Phenological stage
June 17 Early vegetative
June 28 Vegetative
July 17 Seed ripe
August 16 Shattered
September 13 Dormant

The phenological of development of threadleaf sedge was investigated at 5 elevations on Sheep Mountain, Yukon Territory. Plants developed faster at an elevation of 3,280 feet (1,000 m) than plants at 3,068 feet (935 m). The author suggests that the threadleaf sedge plants grew slower at 3,068 feet (935 m) than at 3,280 feet (1,000 m) due to shadows cast by surrounding trees. The following table shows the date threadleaf sedge plants achieved maximum height at 5 different elevations [91]:

Date Elevation
30 June 935 m
18 June 1,000 m
26 June 1,330 m
5 July 1,590 m
15 July 1,910 m

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Carex filifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Threadleaf sedge establishes after fire by seed and/or by tillering from basal meristem tissue which is protected from fire by soil and/or damp litter [4,50,128,178,185,186,187,189,190]. Since establishing from seed is generally rare in this species [72,170], postfire seedling establishment may be uncommon.

Fire regimes: Threadleaf sedge is found in the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grasslands of the northern Great Basin, in the mixed-grass prairies of the northern Great Plains, and in the mixed forests of the Cascade, Sierra Nevada, and northern Rocky Mountains, which exhibit a wide range of historic fire frequencies.

Mixed forests: On the leeward slope of the southern Cascade Mountains in northeastern California, threadleaf sedge is a dominant species in meadows fringed by Pacific ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa), Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi), Sierra lodgepole pine (P. contorta var. murrayana), and western juniper. Using fire scar and tree ring data in 8 meadow units, Norman and Taylor [132] constructed a fire history of the area for the years 1700 to 1849. During this period widespread fire burned 7 or more meadow units with a return interval of 7 to 49 years. Moderately widespread fires burned 4 or more units during this period 19 times with a return interval of 2 to 22 years. Fire burned in at least 1 meadow unit during this period in 93 of 150 years. Between 1785 and 1835, on 3 occasions there were periods of 2 to 6 years without fire [132].

Northern Great Plains: Historically fire has played an important role in the northern Great Plains. The large tracts of continuous mixed-grass prairie, which occur in hot, dry areas and accumulate much fine fuel, are susceptible to frequent lightning fires. Higgins [88] estimates that 6 lightning fires consuming 4,000 miles (10,000 km) of grasslands occurred a year in eastern North Dakota, and 25 lightning fires consuming 4,000 miles (10,000 km) of grasslands occurred a year in western North Dakota. Early records kept by explorers, trappers, and settlers note a high occurrence of fires, both natural and anthropogenic, with fires occurring at intervals of 5 to 10 years [46,135,153,156,192]. Since the early 1900s, fire has been excluded, allowing nonnative species such as Japanese brome, smooth brome (Bromus inermis), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) to take a strong hold in the area [46].

Sagebrush-grasslands: Fire in the sagebrush-grasslands of the northern Great Basin where threadleaf sedge grows likely occurred with a frequency of 20 to 70 years [135]. Wright and others [192] hypothesize that fires likely occurred about every 50 years. Changes in land use and management practices, such as the invasion of cheatgrass, have altered the fire return interval to less than 10 years in some areas [133,135].

Shrub-steppe: Threadleaf sedge is found across the Columbia Plateau of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The fire return interval for this habitat is approximately 25 years [43].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where threadleaf sedge is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or ecosystem Dominant species Fire return interval range (years)
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [105,135]
Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [135]
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [87,140,192]
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [135]
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [150]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [7,24,124]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (=40) [176,197]
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 10 to <100 [121,135]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. <35 [135,192]
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii <35 [135,149,192]
blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides <35 [135,192]
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum <10 [138,183]
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum <35 [135]
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii <5-47+ [135,140,192]
Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to >200 [6]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [135]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. latifolia 25-340 [10,11,168]
Sierra lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200 [6]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [60,70,103,135]
Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi 5-30
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47 [6]
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [6,9,112]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [6,73,122]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (=10) [5,6]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [6,7,8]
California mixed evergreen Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii <35 [6]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [135]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [162]:
Caudex/herbaceous root crown, growing points in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Carex filifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Threadleaf sedge is likely top-killed by fire, with basal meristems protected by soil and/or damp litter [185].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No additional information is available on this topic.

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Threadleaf sedge recovers from fire by tillering and/or establishing from seed [4,50,128,178,185,186, 187,189,190]. Threadleaf sedge seed dispersal onto burned sites is likely affected by wind. While threadleaf sedge may utilize a seed bank [29], as of this study (2006), there is a lack of information on seed tolerance to fire.

Several authors list threadleaf sedge as a plant severely damaged by fire [21,137,142,142,157,191, 193]. However, this is based on 1 review by Blaisdell [15] of a prescribed fire on the upper Snake River Plains of Idaho in which he did not differentiate between sedge species. The research presented below provides mixed results on the effects of fire on threadleaf sedge and disputes the generalization that it is severely damaged by fire. In an unpublished report, Whisenant and Uresk [185] state that it takes threadleaf sedge plants approximately 2.5 years to reach reproductive maturity after fire.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
On 28 June 1977 a human-caused fire burned 121 acres (49 ha) of rough fescue (Festuca altaica)-Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass dominated grasslands on Mount Sentinel in Missoula, Montana. At the time of the fire, winds averaged 23 km/hr. with gust to 55 km/hr, relative humidity was 31%, and the air temperature approximately 81 F (27 C) [118]. The site burned was ungrazed and had been fire-free for at least 32 years. The fire consumed almost all aboveground vegetation and many bunchgrass clumps were burned to belowground level. Samples taken on Mount Sentinel 4 months, 11 months, and 1 year postfire showed that the fire reduced threadleaf sedge cover. By postfire year 3, cover of threadleaf sedge on burned sites was only 60% of that on unburned sites. While the fire caused a reduction in cover, threadleaf sedge occurrence on and off the burn site is very low and the authors do not discuss whether the difference is significant [4].

Date Cover (%)
Unburned Burned
October 1977 (4 months postfire) 0.8 0.1
May 1978 (11 months postfire) 0.6 0.3
June 1978 (postfire year 1) 0.9 0.4

In western North Dakota, prescription burning caused a small decrease in threadleaf sedge cover on 2 of 3 sites [50]. Whether the change in threadleaf sedge cover due to fire is significant is not discussed by the researchers. The fire on site 1 (Dedication Hill) occurred on 14 August 1954 and covered an area of 3.2 acres (1.3 ha). Dedication Hill is an upland site which had been grazed lightly in the past. The stands of threadleaf sedge on Dedication Hill occur on soils composed of loamy fine sands, have an exposure of 15 west of north, and a slope of 10. The fire on site 2 (Squaw Creek) occurred on 30 September 1955 and covered an area of 110 acres (45 ha). Squaw Creek is composed of clay loam soils and had been grazed moderately prior to the fire. The fire on site 3 (North Rim) occurred on 29 May 1958 and covered an area of 2.5 acres (1 ha). North Rim is an upland site which had been lightly grazed prior to the fire. The stands of threadleaf sedge on North Rim occur on fine sandy loams, have an exposure of 25 south of west, and a slope of 10. All 3 areas had been fire-free for at least 20 years prior to the study. Vegetation sampling occurred in the middle of August 1958 when threadleaf sedge had completed growth for the year and was in the process of curing. On burned and unburned sites forty 2.7 ft (0.25 m) quadrats were established. The following table reflects the average number of threadleaf sedge plants found on each quadrat [50]:

Dedication Hill Squaw Creek North Rim
Burned 92 2 85
Unburned 95 17 82

In August 1952, approximately 13.5 acres (5.5 ha) of threadleaf sedge-Idaho fescue was prescription burned on the Upper Snake River Plains of southeastern Idaho. For fast identification, the researchers combined the herbage production of threadleaf sedge and Idaho fescue on burned and unburned plots. In postfire year 3, herbage production of threadleaf sedge-Idaho fescue was 106 lbs./acre on unburned plots and 36 lbs./acre on burned plots [128].

Summer precipitation seemed to affect threadleaf sedge production more than burn treatment in Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Burning occurred on four 2323 foot (77 m) sites in spring and fall 1984 and 1985. Precipitation during the 1984, 1986, and 1987 growing seasons was above average, with precipitation well below average in 1985. The climatic conditions during the 4 fires and the fine fuel weight at the 4 sites is presented in the table below:

Burning Date Air temperature Relative humidity (%) Wind speed Fine fuel weight g/m)
16 April 1984 61F 42% 3 to 6 miles/hr 151 g/m (21% fuel water)
2 October 1984 >64F 18% 0 to 2.5 mile/hr 162 g/m (15% fuel water)
8 April 1985 54F 21% 2.5 to 5 miles/hr 142 g/m (19% fuel water)
24 October 1985 54 F 36% 0 to 3 miles/hr 134 g/m (23% fuel water)

The following table shows the aboveground standing crop (g/m) of threadleaf sedge during July 1984 to 1987 on the 4 burn sites and 1 unburned site. The lowest values for controls and all treatments occurred in the dry year, 1985 [186].

Burning Date

July 1984 July 1985 July 1986 July 1987
Unburned 30 2 6 10
16 April 1984 26 1 37 18
2 October 1984 ---* 2 47 28
8 April 1985 --- 1 24 22
24 October 1985 --- --- 33 27
*Sites unburned at time of data collection

Whisenant and Uresk [187] conducted a 2nd burning study in Badlands National Park, South Dakota, during the spring of 1983 and 1984. While the researchers do not provide fire data on threadleaf sedge, they report that burning did not significantly (p<0.05) affect, positively or negatively, threadleaf sedge production.

On the mixed-grass prairies of eastern Montana near Miles City, spring (3 April) and fall burning (2nd week of October) had different effects on the production (lbs./acre) of threadleaf sedge. Sites burned on 3 April produced less threadleaf sedge than unburned sites during 3 of the first 4 measurement dates. Until approximately mid-June, production on fall-burned sites was significantly (p<0.05) lower than on control and spring-burned sites. The following table describes the production of threadleaf sedge on unburned, spring-burned, and fall-burned plots on 7 dates during the 1979 growing season [189,190]:

Date Unburned Spring burned Fall burned
25 April 174 161 185
8 May 395 388 300
21 May 719 763 688
4 June 1069 1043 814
18 June 1259 1321 1290
2 July 1069 1162 1222
30 July ---* 1142 1025
*Data not given

In mid-July, White and Currie [190] took basal cover (%) measurements for threadleaf sedge on the 3 treatments described above. The basal cover of threadleaf sedge on spring burn sites (17.4%) was significantly (p<0.05) greater than on fall burned and unburned sites. The researchers also took soil moisture measurements at a depth of 6 inches (15 cm) on the 3 treatments throughout the 1979 growing season which are presented in the table below. These values show little relationship to treatment, but may be related to season or weather patterns.

Date

Soil moisture (%)
Unburned Spring burned Fall burned
25 April 13.2 12.3 11.3
22 May 5.9 5.6 5.5
4 June 11.1 10.4 9.8
18 June 5.0 5.0 5.0
3 July 4.2 4.2 4.3
31 July 10.6 8.9 8.2

In southwest Montana, 7 sites were prescription burned within basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata)-dominated communities. At only 2 locations did fire cause a significant (p<0.05) change in threadleaf sedge cover. At Wise River, burning of threadleaf sedge caused a significant increase and at Jeff Davis Creek fire caused a significant decrease in threadleaf sedge cover. The following table describes the date of burn and percent cover on burned and unburned sites. All measurements were taken 1 complete growing season since burning [178].

Location Date of burn Burned (%) Unburned (%)
Wise River 26 October 1987 14.53 1.0
West Fork March/April 1994 32.0 23.0
Wisdom Flat 6 April 1987 6.0 14.0
Wisdom Slope 6 April 1987 29.0 25.5
Badger Pass 1 October 1981 29.0 29.0
Snowline 1985 16.5 20.0
Jeff Davis Creek 29 September 1980 0 7.0

In October 1976, a wildfire burned approximately 6,000 acres (2,428 ha) of mixed-prairie in the Little Missouri Badlands of southwestern North Dakota. Threadleaf sedge occurred in mixed vegetation stands (western wheatgrass, blue grama, needle-and-thread grass, and little bluestem) and little bluestem-dominated stands. Threadleaf sedge production (g/m) was generally less on burned sites than on unburned sites [198].

  Mixed vegetation community Little bluestem community
June 1977 July 1977 August 1977 June 1978 July 1978 August 1978 June 1977 July 1977 August 1977 June 1978 July 1978 August 1978
Burned (g/m) 22 14 10 37 10 14 2 5 6 16 19 16
Unburned (g/m) 23 29 12 63 24 28 27 15 7 9 12 7

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
The research described above suggests that prescription burning may or may not favor threadleaf sedge. If fire is used to manage threadleaf sedge land managers should use caution and follow the guidelines addressed below.

Grazing: Burned rangelands containing threadleaf sedge should be protected from grazing during postfire year 1 to allow for uninterrupted growth of herbaceous vegetation [15,21,189].

Invasive species: Improper fire management may convert desirable shrub and perennial grass stands to annual grass and invasive shrub stands [184,193]. Wright and others [193] suggest that if fires occur in big sagebrush (A. tridentata)-grasslands at a frequency of less than every 50 years, the communities may become dominated by rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnusnauseosus) and gray horsebrush (Tetradymia canescens), sprouting species that respond vigorously to fire. Cheatgrass may also expand after fire and severely reduce native plant coverage [137,184,193].

Precipitation: Two authors suggest that it is harmful to burn threadleaf sedge during drought years [186,189].

Sagebrush-grassland communities: Threadleaf sedge occurs in sagebrush-grasslands with species that can be harmed by fire [184]. June or July fires can be especially harmful to Idaho fescue and needle-and-thread grass [15,192]. Big sagebrush is slow to recover from extensive fires [15].


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Carex filifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Threadleaf sedge is one of the most important grass-like forage species on the northern Great Plains [92,164]. It is particularly important due to its early growth and high palatability in the spring [35,42,146,151,164]. Threadleaf sedge is eaten readily by cattle and domestic sheep when it is young, but is avoided as it ages and becomes tough [109,136,151].

From the end of November to the end of April on rangelands north of Nunn, Colorado, threadleaf sedge and needleleaf sedge constitute 18% of cattle diets on sandy plains and overflow sites and 22% on loamy plain sites. From the 1st of June to the middle of October, the 2 sedges constitute 6% of diets on sandy plains and overflow sites and 12% on loamy plain sites [155]. Threadleaf sedge is preferentially grazed in the early spring by feral horses in south-central Wyoming. In spring 1991, threadleaf sedge composed 62% of their early spring diet [42].

Small mammals/birds: The seeds, leaves, and roots of threadleaf sedge are eaten by fur and game mammals, small mammals, and birds [115]. Threadleaf sedge is an important food source for black-tailed prairie dogs in western South Dakota. Research collected on their food habits in 1973 found that threadleaf sedge constitutes from 9% to 19% of black-tailed prairie dog diets [166]. In eastern Montana, threadleaf sedge-western wheatgrass-blue grama communities provide the most important habitat for sharp-tailed grouse [167].

Ungulates: Threadleaf sedge is utilized by ungulates [115]. It is the most important forage graminoid for bighorn sheep in the Badlands of North Dakota during the spring. Threadleaf sedge constitutes 28.8% of bighorn sheep diets in the spring, yet it is only 1.8%, 0.0%, and 0.1% of their diet during the winter, summer, and fall, respectively [59]. Threadleaf sedge is an important forage species for pronghorn and American bison in the Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, [196] and Dall sheep in the Sheep Mountains, Yukon Territory [91]. Elk in the southern unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, utilize threadleaf sedge as a forage species [172]. Threadleaf sedge is an important winter and spring forage species for elk in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. During the winter and spring, threadleaf sedge constitutes 12.6% and 38.6%, respectively, of elk diets. It is of marginal use during the fall (4.2%) and of no use during the summer [195,196].

Palatability/nutritional value: The palatability of threadleaf sedge early in the growing season is high, but as it becomes dry and tough by the middle of summer its palatability is very low [93,113,175].

The palatability of threadleaf sedge in the National Forests of Region 1, which cover more than 23,000,000 acres (9,308,000 ha) in South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington, is rated as 60 on a scale of 0 to 100 [63]. Palatability of threadleaf sedge on the northern Great Plains is rated as 70 [151].

The palatability of threadleaf sedge for livestock and wildlife is rated as follows [47]:

Species Colorado Montana North Dakota Utah Wyoming
cattle fair good good fair fair
domestic sheep good good good fair good
horses good good good fair fair
elk --- fair --- fair good
mule deer --- poor good fair fair
white-tailed deer fair good --- --- ---
pronghorn --- poor good fair fair
upland game birds --- --- --- fair ---
waterfowl --- fair --- poor ---
small nongame birds --- --- --- fair ---
small mammals --- --- --- fair good

Threadleaf sedge is one of the highest protein grass and/or grass-like species in the northern Great Plains [170]. The crude protein value of threadleaf sedge decreases from a high of 12.38% in early June to a low of 5.6% in August [93]. Cows nursing calves require a total protein level of 9.2%. Threadleaf sedge meets this requirement on the Great Plains from the resumption of spring growth until approximately 20 June. Dry pregnant mature cows require 5.9% total protein in their diets and threadleaf sedge meets this requirement throughout the year [164].

The nutritive content of threadleaf sedge at the Cottonwood Range Field Station in southwestern South Dakota during the growing season is presented below [32]:

Date Protein (%) Holocellulose (%) Hemicellulose (%) Cellulose (%) Fiber (%) Lignin (%)
17 June 11.4 58.3 38.9 24.4 29.4 3.2
28 June 9.6 55.9 39.8 24.4 29.3 3.2
17 July 7.8 57.4 35.4 25.4 31.7 4.0
16 August 6.0 61.0 37.6 27.6 35.6 3.8
13 September 4.3 69.2 41.2 31.8 41.9 4.8

The chemical composition of threadleaf sedge given as a range during the 1976 growing season at 3 sites (Sidehill, Flat Top Ridge, and Creek Bottom) in the Badlands of North Dakota is given below. For a more detailed analysis see the review by Fairaizl [59].

Month Ca (%) Mg (%) K (%)
April 0.66-0.74 0.15-0.23 0.58-0.99
May 0.58-0.88 0.14-0.23 0.63-0.32
June 0.73-1.11 0.17-0.29 0.89-1.11
July 0.89-1.05 0.20-0.32 0.80-0.89
August 0.90-1.05 0.14-0.27 0.71-1.05
September 0.76-0.91 0.13-0.18 0.29-0.35

The nutritive content of threadleaf sedge during bloom stage near Sundance, Wyoming, is presented in the table below [77]:

Ash (%) Crude protein (%) Ether extract (%) Crude fiber (%) N-free extract (%) Gross energy (Kcal/g)
8.94 12.57 2.42 29.56 46.51 4.31

Cover value: Threadleaf sedge is a low-growing species and therefore has limited cover value [2,32,71,72,107,107,160,164,170,173].

Small mammals/birds: Threadleaf sedge provides principal cover for mountain plover nesting sites in southeastern Campbell County, northern Converse County, and a small portion of southwestern Weston County, Wyoming [134]. It provides cover for a large number of bird species in the Columbia Basin of Washington [51] and on the mixed-grass prairies of the Scott's Bluff National Monument, Nebraska [41].

Threadleaf sedge provides cover for black-tailed prairie dogs on the grasslands of the Black Hills, South Dakota [104] and in Billings County, North Dakota [163]. The Oregon ground squirrel builds its burrows in northeastern California in threadleaf sedge stands on sandy sites [173].

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Threadleaf sedge forms a dense and tough sod which binds and holds the soil against wind and water erosion [72,147,151,173,175,179]. The roots of threadleaf sedge are able to bind soil years after aboveground vegetation has died [170].

In Yosemite National Park, California, plugs of threadleaf sedge were collected and used to rehabilitate a 4,200 foot (1,280 m) section of denuded trail with partial success. The plugs were collected in the fall of 1991 and planted during the 1992 growing season. In 1995, threadleaf sedge cover was 8% on the rehabilitated site and 24% on surrounding undisturbed control sites [55].

OTHER USES:
Native Americans used threadleaf sedge culm bases as famine food [165].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Disturbance: Soil disturbance may have long-lasting negative effects of threadleaf sedge. In 1976 the basal cover (%) and mean aboveground production (g/m) of threadleaf sedge was investigated on 4 plowed (P) and unplowed (U) sites on the mixed-grass prairie of southwestern North Dakota. The plowed sites were formerly farmland which had been abandoned and unworked for 40 years. Threadleaf sedge basal cover and mean aboveground production was greater on unplowed than plowed sites [19].

  P U
Basal cover (%) 0-0.1 0.1-2.2
Mean aboveground production (g/m) 0-2.4 0.1-21.0

Fertilization: Two authors discuss the effects of nitrogen fertilization on threadleaf sedge [45,68].

Forage production: Threadleaf sedge production is 2nd only to bluebunch wheatgrass, which has a forage production value of 341.8 lbs./acre, on the Palouse Prairie of eastern Washington [117]. On the northern Great Plains, the average forage yield of threadleaf sedge is approximately 40 lbs./acre [39]. Threadleaf sedge has a forage production of 308.3 lbs./acre on silty loam soil outside of Davenport, Washington. On grasslands southwest of Virginia City, Montana, the herbage production of threadleaf sedge for the 10-year period 1964 to 1973 ranged from 27 to 51 lbs./acre on southwest exposure sites and 1 to 12 lbs./acre on northeast exposure sites [127].

Grazing: Research on threadleaf sedge response to grazing suggests that it decreases under grazing pressure [12,92,158]. However, 2 studies [123,148] found that threadleaf sedge increases when grazed. Ross and Hunter [148] list threadleaf sedge as an increaser on the eastern glaciated plains, sandy, silty, and limey range sites, western glaciated plains, eastern and western sedimentary plains, badlands, and foothills and mountains of Montana. In the Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado, natural barriers such as ravines have excluded cattle from grazing small pockets of short-grasses. The percent cover of threadleaf sedge in the exclusion areas is 3.36%, which is significantly (p<0.05) less than in grazed areas (4.51%) [123].

In the following studies, threadleaf sedge decreased under various levels of grazing:

On the mixed-grass prairie of Billings County, North Dakota, cattle grazing caused a decrease in the basal cover and herbage production and a significant (p<0.001) decrease in the height of threadleaf sedge [18] :

Ungrazed Grazed
basal cover (%) 2.1 0.6
average herbage production (g/m) 37.1 12.5
height (cm) 21.6 8.9

A grazing study on the mixed-grass prairie in the Little Missouri Badlands of southwestern North Dakota, found that cattle grazing on 3 sites reduced basal cover and aboveground production, and significantly (p<0.05) reduced mean leaf height of threadleaf sedge [19,20]:

East Tracy Mountain West Tracy Mountain Sandy Upland
Grazed Ungrazed Grazed Ungrazed Grazed Ungrazed
Basal cover (%) 0.2 0.4 0.7 2.2 3.3 4.5
Aboveground production (g/m) 2.5 25.6 13.0 41.8 41.3 69.4
Mean leaf height (cm) 13.2 28.4 10.1 21.1 16.1 21.3

In Yosemite National Park, California, recreational pack stock grazing caused a significant (p<0.01) decrease in threadleaf sedge biomass (g/m). The study, conducted from 1994 to 1998, found that threadleaf sedge biomass decreased 18% on grazed plots in 5 years [33,125].

The colonization of and grazing by black-tailed prairie dogs on the mixed-grass prairie on northeastern Montana has had a significant (p<0.05) detrimental effect on threadleaf sedge communities. On colonized prairies, standing threadleaf sedge biomass (kg/hasx) is 2.31.2 and 6.81.2 on uncolonized prairies [97].

At the Northern Great Plains Field Station, North Dakota, heavy and moderate cattle grazing caused a decrease in relative cover of threadleaf sedge. The heavily used area was summer grazed for 44 years at an average rate of 1.25 AUM's per acre. The moderately used area was summer grazed for 46 years at an average rate of 0.50 AUM per acre. The ungrazed area had been grazed at an average rate of 1.19 AUM per acre for 23 years but had not been grazed for 19 years preceding the study. The relative cover of threadleaf sedge on heavily, moderately, and ungrazed sites was 9.9%, 24.4%, and 81.7%, respectively [144].

Herbicides: Two references discuss the effects of 2,4-D on threadleaf sedge [45,128]. One author discusses the effects of picloram, clopyralid, and metsulfuron methyl on threadleaf sedge [27].

Mechanical control: Mueggler and Blaisdell [128] discuss the effects of railing and rotobeating on threadleaf sedge.


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