SPECIES: Elymus glaucus


Elymus glaucus: INTRODUCTORY

INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Elymus glaucus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Johnson, Kathleen A. 1999. Elymus glaucus. 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:

SYNONYMS:
No entry

NRCS PLANT CODE:
ELGL
ELGLG
ELGLJ2
ELGLV

COMMON NAMES:
blue wildrye

TAXONOMY:
The scientific name of blue wildrye is Elymus glaucus Buckley (Poaceae) [5,35,41,44,49,94]. Recognized subspecies are:

E. g. ssp. glaucus
E. g. ssp. jepsonii (Burtt Davy) Gould
E. g. ssp. virescens (Piper) A. Love [5,41,49].

Blue wildrye hybridizes with bottlebrush squirreltail (E. elymoides), Parish wheatgrass (E. stebbinsii), and slender wheatgrass (E. trachycaulus) [41].

LIFE FORM:
Graminoid

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
No entry


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Elymus glaucus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Blue wildrye is the most common and widely distributed of the western wildryes (Elymus spp.) [47,90]. It occurs throughout western North America from Alaska to Ontario southward to New Mexico, northern Arizona, California, and Mexico. Blue wildrye is rare in the Great Plains and eastward [19,35,44,94].

ECOSYSTEMS:
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES42 Annual grasslands

STATES:
AK AZ AR CA CO HI ID IL IN IA
MI MN MO MT NV NM NY ND OR SD
UT WA WY
 
AB BC MB NT ON SK YT

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
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K005 Mixed conifer 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
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodlands
K025 Alder-ash forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K030 California oakwoods
K033 Chaparral
K034 Montane chaparral
K035 Coastal sagebrush
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K048 California steppe
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K074 Bluestem prairie
K098 Northern floodplain forest

SAF COVER TYPES:
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
208 Whitebark pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
213 Grand fir
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
219 Limber pine
221 Red alder
233 Oregon white oak
234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone
235 Cottonwood-willow
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon-juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
247 Jeffrey pine
250 Blue oak-foothills pine
255 California coast live oak



SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
103 Green fescue
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
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
216 Montane meadows
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
612 Sagebrush-grass
906 Broadleaf forest



HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Blue wildrye typically occurs as a minor seral component throughout a wide range of nonforested and forested communities in the western United States. It reaches its greatest abundance in the woodlands of the central Rocky Mountains, where it is a common component in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and mountain brush communities [1,46]. Classifications listing it as an indicator or dominant species in vegetation typings are presented below.

Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington [37]
Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho [67]
A vegetation classification system applied to southern California [68]
Foothill oak woodlands of the interior valleys of southwestern Oregon [76]

Common plant associates of blue wildrye in the western United States include alder (Alnus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), brome grasses (Bromus spp.), bluegrasses (Poa spp.), meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum), cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.), strawberry (Fragaria spp.), yarrow (Achillea spp.) and asters (Aster spp.) [90].

In Eastern Oregon and Washington common associates are ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) [37]. In Utah and Colorado blue wildrye is reported in quaking aspen stands [15,92].


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

Elymus glaucus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Blue wildrye is important forage for wild and domestic animals throughout its range [23,47,53,48,63,82,90]. On quaking aspen sites in good condition in parts of Utah, this bunchgrass contributes substantially to forage resources [92]. Naturally regenerating blue wildrye in the Mount St. Helens "blast zone" was a common component of elk diets 5 years post-eruption [62].

PALATABILITY:
Blue wildrye is rated as only fair in forage quality because of its coarse foliage [40,47]. Although plants are grazed into the summer, most use occurs in the early spring. New growth is highly palatable to horses and cattle; plants are utilized less extensively by domestic sheep. The awned seedheads are generally not consumed [47,90].

The degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for blue wildrye in several western states is rated as follows [27]:
                      CO      MT      UT      WY
 
Cattle               Good    Good    Good    Good       
Domestic sheep       Fair    Fair    Fair    Good
Horses               Good    Good    Good    Good
Pronghorn            ----    ----    Poor    ----
Elk                  ----    ----    Good    Good
Mule deer            ----    ----    Good    Poor
White-tailed deer    ----    ----    ----    Fair
Small mammals        ----    ----    Good    Good
Small nongame birds  ----    ----    Good    Good
Upland game birds    ----    ----    Good    Fair
Waterfowl            ----    ----    Poor    Fair
NUTRITIONAL VALUE:
Blue wildrye has been rated good in energy value and poor in protein value [27]. In Humboldt County, California, the protein concentration of blue wildrye differed significantly between 2 soil series (Tyson and Yorkville) during the summer dry season (June-Oct.), but not during the rest of the year. The differences were related to phenology [51].

Nutritional data from the National Academy of Sciences [65] are provided below in percent. Values for each animal are digestible protein, with the exception of the value for domestic rabbits, which is a digestible protein coefficient.

Ash 5.5
Ether extract 2.3
Protein (N x 6.25) 7.3
   cattle 4.1
   domestic goats 3.4
   horses 3.7
   domestic rabbits 4.3
   domestic sheep 3.8
Calcium 0.33
Phosphorus 0.23

COVER VALUE:

The degree to which blue wildrye provides cover for wildlife species has been rated as follows [27]:
                        UT          WY
Pronghorn              Poor        Poor 
Elk                    Good        Good
Mule deer              Good        Poor
White-tailed deer      ----        Poor
Small mammals          Fair        ----
Small nongame birds    Fair        ----
Upland game birds      Fair        ----
Waterfowl              Poor        ----
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Blue wildrye seed is available through commercial producers [2,21]. Blue wildrye is unusual in that its growth appears to be compatible with tree regeneration [40]. It has been recommended for revegetation on quaking aspen and mountain brush sites in Utah [71]. Its success was rated as excellent in a 1953 seeding trial in green fescue (Festuca viridula) grassland of north-central Washington state [84]. Abundant seed production, good germination, and relatively rapid seedling growth result in rapid blue wildrye establishment [31,40,71].

Although blue wildrye is most often associated with moist woodland sites throughout its range, this species is drought tolerant and persists on severe sites in California [79,90]. In some montane shrub and montane grassland sites receiving less than 18 inches (480 mm) mean annual precipitation, stands begin to decline dramatically 3 to 4 years after establishment and may disappear within 10 years after seeding [40].

Blue wildrye seed has been used successfully in California as a native restoration species on sites cleared of exotic brush [75] and pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) [66]. Also in California, 1-year-old plants propagated from local native seed were successfully transplanted to test plots in disturbed, weedy sites. Blue wildrye establishment was more successful in unmulched plots than in mulched plots [69].

This species has been included in ongoing native plant restoration projects and research in Yellowstone, Glacier, and Mount Rainier national parks [57,58,77], and Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon [83].

Hassell and others [40] recommend only using seed from local sources, preferably from within 300 miles (500 km) and 1,500 feet (500 m) elevation of the intended site. Libby and Rodrigues [55] discuss the potential for ‘genetic contamination' of native populations of blue wildrye by commercially produced seed. They question the use of a single collection over a very large area. They concluded, however, that contamination was unlikely in the case of a large, stand-replacing 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Hills wildfire that was reseeded on a large scale by species including blue wildrye. This was based in part on the use of commercially-produced seed propagated from locally collected native sources.

OTHER USES AND VALUES:
Blue wildrye is included in a living collection of perennial Triticeae grasses in Logan, Utah. The collection is maintained by the USDA and the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station for applied research as well as genetics, evolution, taxonomy, and other elements of basic research [24].

Blue wildrye seeds were probably used historically as food by the Salish of Vancouver Island [89].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Although blue wildrye has a fairly well-developed root system, plants are intolerant of continued heavy grazing. According to Sampson [78], recovery is generally rapid on overgrazed ranges when utilization is suspended. In a 10-year northeastern Oregon study comparing several riparian plant communities under livestock use or exclusion, blue wildrye increased significantly (P<0.01), from 0 to 48%, inside exclosures in a ponderosa pine community. Concurrent increases outside the exclosures were not significant [36].

In a grazing-simulation study conducted in a greenhouse, blue wildrye plants were clipped 3 times to within 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the soil surface. Clipping at a 30-day interval "severely retarded" root and shoot production. The decrease in root production due to clipping was greater than the decrease in shoot production. The small root systems of plants clipped at 15- and 30-day intervals appeared inadequate to sustain plant vigor. At the conclusion of the study, blue wildrye had the 2nd lowest overall yield among 6 species tested [16].

Though lacking any official status, blue wildrye was an important component of pristine valley grasslands of California, which are markedly diminished or have been heavily invaded by non-native species [2,50].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Elymus glaucus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Blue wildrye is an erect, rapidly developing, cool-season, native perennial bunchgrass [8,19,39,40]. It is short lived and drought tolerant [13,40,79]. Blue wildrye commonly grows in small tufts of only a few stems [40,90]. Bunches in the Pacific Northwest rarely exceed 4 inches (10 cm) in width [44]. Leaves grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and are chiefly cauline. The blades have a rather rough texture. Culms range in height from 1.9 to 5.9 feet (60-180 cm) and form small, mostly loose tufts [94]. The inflorescence is a dense, erect, narrow spike approximately 2.4 to 6.4 inches (6-16 cm) long. Spikelets are 2 or rarely 3 per node or solitary at the upper and lower nodes, and 2 to 4 flowered [94]. Seeds have an awn that is up to 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) long [72].

The vigorous, fibrous root system is well branched and penetrates deeply [47]. Blue wildrye may produce stolons [41], short rhizomes [35], or lack horizontal stems [43,79].

RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Abundant seed is usually produced in California [79] and elsewhere. In a seedbank study in eastern Washington, blue wildrye was found to be the 6th most common viable plant species (out of a total of 57 viable species) in 4-inch (10 cm) deep soil samples collected from an intermediate-successional-stage ponderosa pine forest [73]. Data summarized by Fulbright and others [32] indicate that seeds have a germinative capacity of 80 to 85%. Seed stratification or scarification is not necessary for adequate germination. Ripe seeds collected in western Colorado in late summer were nondormant when tested within a few months, had high germination percentages under various photoperiods and thermoperiods, and germinated both unstratified and cold stratified [45]. Seeds remain viable for 2 to 4 years [32], but one study showed percentage germination of mature, cleaned seed stored at 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15-30 oC) dropped sharply after 2 years [59] .

Blue wildrye also regenerates via rhizomes [35,37,93], stolons [19,35], and tillering [19,72].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Blue wildrye occurs from near sea level in California to subalpine montane sites throughout the Intermountain Region [4,19,44,90]. Within woodlands and conifer-dominated communities, blue wildrye is frequently associated with riparian areas [14,93,94,97]. In California it is present along montane meadow edges and on elevated flats where the water table falls well below the soil surface through the growing season [38]. Within big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii) communities in western North Dakota, this species is usually located on the lower portions of steep slopes where sites receive water runoff [39].

Soils: Blue wildrye grows best on moderately moist soils [47,79,90]. Sites are characterized by low fertility and well-drained soils, with textures ranging from clayey loam to sandy loam [8,40]. Plants are moderately sensitive to saline soils and are not tolerant of shallow soils [40,71].

Hassell and others [40] listed the following range of environmental adaptation for blue wildrye on mountain sites in the Intermountain Region:
Minimum mean annual precipitation       >16 inches
Minimum winter temperature              -40oF
Inundation during spring runoff (EST)   21-35 days
Ability to grow on shallow soils        poor
Heat tolerance                          good
Blue wildrye is reported from coastal and subalpine elevations up to 11,000 feet (3,352 m) [4,79,80]. Elevational ranges for several western states are as follows:
from sea level to 10,500 feet (0-3,200 m) in CA [68]    
6,300 to 11,000 feet (1,921-3,354 m) in CO
4,200 to  8,000 feet (1,280-2,439 m) in MT [27]
2,500 to  5,700 feet (762 to 1,738 m) in OR [37]
4,297 to 10,496 feet (1,310-3,200 m) in UT [94]
5,400 to 10,500 feet (1,280-2,439 m) in WY [27]

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Blue wildrye is typically favored by disturbance [3,31,54,72,90]. On sites in the Pacific Northwest, plants are often locally abundant on old burns and cutover areas [64,90]. Other common sites include avalanche chutes, woodland openings, prairies, and "dry" wetlands [17,37,44,90]. It is a common early seral component of both nonforested and forested communities throughout the central Rocky Mountain region. While sometimes locally abundant, this shade tolerant bunchgrass rarely forms dense, pure stands [79,90,92,94]. Plants are apparently favored by disturbances such as burning and logging [3,54,90,87]. Merrill and others [62] report this species in early successional stands in the Mount St. Helens volcanic blast zone. Although blue wildrye rapidly establishes and increases under early seral conditions, numbers may decline dramatically after 3 to 4 years without further disturbance [31,40].

A Colorado succession study in 25 high-elevation quaking aspen stands, 1st conducted in 1964 and repeated in 1994, showed a marked increase in blue wildrye cover over 30 years. The increase was concurrent with a shift in the number of quaking aspen trees towards fewer, larger trees without a change in total basal area. Most other understory species remained constant. Over the 30-year period livestock grazing was limited or nonexistent on the study sites [18].

In a postfire succession study spanning 17 years in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, blue wildrye was rare in unburned subalpine fir-Engelmann spruce-lodgepole pine (Abies lasiocarpa-Picea engelmannii-Pinus contorta) forest, but began appearing in adjacent severely burned areas within 2 years after fire, reaching greater than 5% cover. [28].

In a California old-field succession study where a cultivated field surrounded by foothill woodland was abandoned in 1937 then studied until 1966, blue wildrye was present in 1944 and 1951 but was less abundant by 1951. It was not found in 1966, although it was present in adjacent blue oak (Quercus douglasii)/chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) woodland sampled in 1963 [95].

In an Oregon riparian ponderosa pine community where livestock were excluded for 10 years, blue wildrye increased significantly (P<0.01), from 0 to 48% frequency [36].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Blue wildrye produces good growth during the cool part of the grazing season in California; seed ripens in early July in the foothills and in late August at higher elevations [47]. Anthesis data for several western states are presented below [27]:
State     Earliest flowering     Latest flowering

CO        June                   August
MT        June                   August
ND        July                   August
UT        June                   August
WY        July                   August
In a northern California study of blue wildrye on 2 different soil series, blue wildrye began its annual cycle at the beginning of the rainy season in October, and vegetative development continued throughout the rainy season. During the summer dry season, however, the grass matured more rapidly on the Yorkville series soil than on the Tyson series soil. By the 2nd month of the dry season, it was quiescent on the Yorkville site but never became quiescent on the more shady and moist Tyson site [51].

FIRE ECOLOGY

Elymus glaucus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Blue wildrye can survive fire. It typically forms small bunches that rarely exceed 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, and mature aboveground growth generally consists of coarse leaves and stems [44,92]. Such attributes suggest that this bunchgrass burns rather quickly, with little heat transferred down into the root crown [96]. As a result, basal buds located at or just below the ground surface are not subjected to prolonged heating, and may survive and sprout. In Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, blue wildrye is survives fire by sprouting from the root crown and establishing from on-site seeds [10,81].

Because blue wildrye is a short-lived perennial that generally does not compete well with surrounding vegetation, severity and frequency of fire or other types of disturbance greatly influence the recovery and maintenance of this species. In northern Idaho, Mueggler [64] observed highest frequencies of blue wildrye on sites that had been subjected to multiple broadcast burns 2 or more times in the previous 30 years.

Blue wildrye occurs in plant communities with varying fire regimes. The range of fire intervals reported for some species that dominate communities where blue wildrye occurs are listed below. To learn more about the fire regimes in those communities, refer to the FEIS summary for that species, under "Fire Ecology Or Adaptations."

Community dominant Range (yrs)
----------------------------- -----------
Pacific ponderosa pine 1-40
(Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa)

Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine 25-300+
(P. contorta var. latifolia)

Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir 40-140
(Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca)

quaking aspen 7-80
(Populus tremuloides)

chamise2-90
(Adenostoma fasciculatum)


POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer - on-site seed
Tussock graminoid
Surface rhizome/chamaephytic root crown

FIRE EFFECTS

Elymus glaucus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Blue wildrye mortality following fire has not been widely documented. Indirect evidence indicates that it may be somewhat susceptible to fire. Leege and Godbolt [54] reported reduced frequencies of blue wildrye 1 year after a spring burn in seral brushfields in a grand fir/pachistima (Abies grandis/Pachistima myrsinites) habitat type in north-central Idaho. However, blue wildrye densities showed little change after fire on chaparral sites in California where nonsprouting forms of manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) and ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.) comprised most of the prefire overstory vegetation [78].

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Blue wildrye is often "an abundant and characteristic species of old burns and cutover areas" [78,90,92], but few studies have dealt specifically with the postfire response of this species. Limited information indicates that blue wildrye depends in part on residual plant survival and subsequent seed regeneration for postfire establishment. Powell [72] reports that that fire creates an excellent seedbed following moderate-severity burns in mixed-conifer forests, and that most postfire regeneration in those forests may be from surviving seedbank propagules.

Tillering can occur from surviving basal buds located on the root crown. Plants in the Great Plains may also regenerate via short rhizomes [35]. Blue wildrye in the Pacific Northwest is rarely rhizomatous [6,33,43].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Results of laboratory experiments suggest that blue wildrye seeds may be able to survive ground surface temperatures generated by moderate-intensity fires. Approximately 39% of seeds exposed for 5 minutes to temperatures ranging from 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (82-93 oC) germinated, and 17% exposed to temperatures ranging from 200 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit (93-99 oC) germinated. This research indicates that on sites where blue wildrye occurs in the prefire community, viable seed may be available for establishment in the 1st postfire growing season [78].

Although blue wildrye was not recorded as a component of the preburn vegetation on seral brush field sites in northern Idaho, it was recorded on sample plots the 4th growing season after burning [54] and in both pre- and postfire quaking aspen stands in Colorado.

Fire creates seedbeds that appear to be conducive to the successful germination and rapid establishment of blue wildrye [16,39,74 86,]. Seedlings develop rapidly on sites where competing vegetation is greatly reduced. In general, cover of blue wildrye increases for the 1st few years following fire [12], but abundance and vigor may decline after 3 or 4 years. On broadcast-seeded burns in the mountain-brush zone of Utah, blue wildrye established readily and gave high yields for 4 postfire years, but then was suppressed by smooth brome (Bromus inermis) [31]. Mean density of blue wildrye in a California chaparral community (nonsprouting manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) and ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.) is presented below [78]:
                                Postfire year							  

				prefire  1    2    3    4    5
-------------------------------------------------------    
plants/thousandth acre	0.6      0.8  1.8  2.6  3.9  4.7

On ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir communities in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, blue wildrye cover and frequency in postfire year 4 were higher on prescribed burned sites than on thinned, thinned-and-burned, or unburned control sites. Blue wildrye was determined to be an indicator species for burned sites (P0.05). For further information on the effects of thinning and burning treatments on blue wildrye and 48 other species, see the Research Project Summary of Youngblood and others' [98] study.

The following Research Project Summaries also provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species including blue wildrye:

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Blue wildrye is recommended for seeding mixtures for revegetating burn sites because it exhibits good germination and establishes rapidly [31,78]. To reintroduce blue wildrye and associated grassland species native to California, McClaran [60] recommends site preparation either by tillage or fire, which should be timed in accordance with the emergence of exotic annual seedlings. In McClaran's study, previously unnoticed remnant natives including blue wildrye showed a flush of growth and an increase in seed set in response to burning. However, blue wildrye may be quickly suppressed by other commonly seeded species. On a site in a grand-fir/pachistima habitat type in north-central Idaho, blue wildrye occurred in pretreatment stands but was essentially eliminated from the burn and seed treatment plots within 1 year. Increased competition from seeded species may have been responsible for its decline. Four years after treatment, 46% of the total herbage production on this site consisted of seeded orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and slender wheatgrass [54].

Blue wildrye was among 5 grasses measured for canopy coverage before and after moist-fuel and dry-fuel underburns in an Idaho ponderosa pine forest. The underburns were conducted in experimental shelterwood logging units. No-burn, moist-burn, and dry-burn treatments represented a progression of heat treatments on the soil and surface vegetation. Total woody fuel consumption was 24% in the moist burn and 57% in the dry burn. Duff reduction ranged from a low of 10% in the moist sites to a high a 90% in the dry sites. Preburn vegetation was measured prior to logging. In the moist-burn treatment all grass cover, including blue wildrye, was similar to the original vegetation. Also in the moist-burn treatment, blue wildrye responded similarly to the other grasses by showing an increase in canopy cover the summer following burning. In the dry-burn treatment, unlike the other grasses, blue wildrye had disappeared from the test plots by the summer after burning. Canopy cover of grasses other than blue wildrye was reduced or maintained, with the exception of rhizomatous pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens), which increased [81].

In a Wyoming study on a quaking aspen site, blue wildrye was among 3 dominant grasses tested for seasonal changes in understory live fuel moisture. Other dominant grasses were California brome and slender wheatgrass. Percent moisture content decreased "as expected" during the summers of 1981 and 1982, but 1982 had 6 times more precipitation than the previous year, leading to considerable variation in overall fuel moisture between the 2 years. Also, in the drier year, moisture content of the grasses averaged 41% higher in a closed stand than in the adjacent open stand, with curing time lagging behind the open stand by 3 weeks [11].

Although blue wildrye forage quality generally improves during the first postfire growing season [23], this may not always occur. In a Wyoming study of the effect of prescribed burning on nutritional status (crude protein and in vitro dry matter) of understory species in quaking aspen, nutritional content of blue wildrye did not differ between burned and unburned plots 3 years after prescribed burning [15].

Elymus glaucus: References


1. Alexander, Robert R.; Hoffman, George R.; Wirsing, John M. 1986. Forest vegetation of the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming: a habitat type classification. Res. Pap. RM-271. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 39 p. [307]

2. Amme, David; Pitschel, Barbara M. 1990. Restoration and management of California's grassland habitats. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration `89: the new management challenge: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 532-542. [14721]

3. Bailey, John D.; Mayrsohn, Cheryl; Doescher, Paul S.; [and others]. 1998. Understory vegetation in old and young Douglas-fir forests of western Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management. 112(3): 289-302. [30086]

4. Baker, William L. 1989. Classification of the riparian vegetation of the montane and subalpine zones in western Colorado. The Great Basin Naturalist. 49(2): 214-228. [7985]

5. Barkworth, Mary E.; Dewey, Douglas R. 1985. Genomically based genera in the perennial Triticeae of North America: identification and membership. American Journal of Botany. 72(5): 767-776. [393]

6. Barkworth, Mary. 2000. [E-mail to Janet L. Howard]. January 28. 1 p. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. [31309]

7. Bartos, D. L.; Mueggler, W. F. 1982. Early succession following clearcutting of aspen communities in northern Utah. Journal of Range Management. 35(6): 764-768. [3279]

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