Atriplex confertifolia



INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Simonin, Kevin A. 2001. Atriplex confertifolia. 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:
ATRCON

SYNONYMS:
No entry

NRCS PLANT CODE [145]:
ATCO

COMMON NAMES:
shadscale
spiny saltbush
sheep-fat

TAXONOMY:
The currently accepted scientific name for shadscale is Atriplex confertifolia (Torr & Frem) (Chenopodiaceae) [77,90,91,153].

Shadscale hybridizes naturally with fourwing saltbush (A. canescens) [77,153], Garrett's saltbush (A. garrettii), mat saltbush (A. corrugata) [74,141,153], Gardner's saltbush (A. gardneri) [153], and valley saltbush (A. cuneata) [141]. Crosses with Garrett's saltbush produce completely sterile hybrids. Mat saltbush × shadscale crosses produce nearly sterile hybrids [74].

LIFE FORM:
Shrub

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
None


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
North to south, shadscale is distributed from Oregon to Mexico [129]. It occurs from western Texas northwest to California, Oregon, and Montana, and northeast from Texas to North Dakota [57]. The greatest shadscale concentration is found within the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau [86]. The PLANTS database provides a distributional map of shadscale.

ECOSYSTEMS [65]:
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES40 Desert grasslands

STATES:

AZ CA CO ID MT ND
NM NV OR TX UT WY
MEXICO

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [12]:
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
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains

KUCHLER [99] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K041 Creosote bush
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking

SAF COVER TYPES [60]:
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [134]:
211 Creosotebush scrub
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
414 Salt desert shrub
501 Saltbush-greasewood
506 Creosotebush-bursage
508 Creosotebush-tarbush

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Shadscale inhabits both warm and cold deserts [128] and is indicative of salt-desert shrub communities. The majority of shadscale salt-desert shrub communities occur in southern and southwestern parts of the Intermountain Region. Isolated communities are found in eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and southwestern Wyoming [21]. Shadscale scrub is a major community within the Mohave Desert [114].

The shadscale zone of the Intermountain West is most often the lowest and most arid region [95]. Little understory is usually present, and overstory shrubs are widely spaced. According to Holmgren and Hutchings [81], 5 to 15% of the ground is shaded by living plant cover. Knapp [95] reports plant cover in the shadscale zone of the Intermountain West is sparse, typically less than 20%.

Shadscale covers extensive regions within the salt-desert shrublands of the Great Basin [55]. The majority of shadscale communities occur below the highest historical levels of pluvial lakes [159]. Shadscale forms almost pure stands in valley bottoms and is mixed with other shrubs and grasses on higher slopes [85]. Shadscale communities of the Great Basin form an "irregular" band between a relatively cooler and moister sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) zone to the north and a creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) zone to the south [104].

Arizona:
Shadscale is widely distributed in Arizona, occurring in pure stands over large areas [91]. Shadscale is a dominant species on colluvial slopes along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon [23]. It is poorly represented east of the Colorado River; it most often occurs north and west into Utah and Nevada [117]. 

California:
Shadscale is widely distributed in salt-desert shrublands of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts and in pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) woodlands of the eastern Sierra Nevada [77]. Common associates in desert shrublands of California include fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), gray low sagebrush (A. arbuscula ssp. arbuscula), budsage (A. spinescens), greasewood (Sarcobatus spp.), and creosotebush. Shadscale is common in the Inyo and Panamint ranges and in the Black and Funeral ranges east of Death Valley [146]. 

Colorado:
Shadscale is found within isolated areas of southeastern Colorado and is common in western Colorado [26]. In northern desert shrub habitats of Colorado near the Utah border , galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii) is a dominant understory associate [28]. At low elevations shadscale is a component of black sagebrush (A. nova) communities [9].  Shadscale/bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) communities often have Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda) in the understory. Common shrub associates of shadscale/bluebunch wheatgrass communities include spiny horsebrush (Tetradymia spinosa) and winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata). Wyoming big sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) [9] is codominant within Wyoming big sagebrush-shadscale-spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa)/needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata) communities. Salina wildrye (Leymus salinus) codominates in shadscale/Salina wildrye communities.

Idaho:
In southeastern Idaho common associates include winterfat, spiny hopsage, budsage, and black greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus). Common grass associates include bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) [5,144], giant wildrye (Leymus cinereus) [5], and Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides) [144]. Shadscale generally occurs as island patches among the more common sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grass communities of southern Idaho [55].

Nevada:
Common components of shadscale communities of Nevada include budsage [14,18], winterfat [14,16], rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) [17], green rabbitbrush (C. viscidiflorus) [16,17], big sagebrush, spiny hopsage [17], and black greasewood [14]. Common grass associates include cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), bottlebrush squirreltail, Sandberg bluegrass [14,17], and Indian ricegrass. Common forbs include halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus), scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea) [14,16], gooseberryleaf globemallow (S. grossularifolia), manyflowered mentzellia (Mentzelia multiflora), and desert princesplume (Stanleya pinnata) [14]. Green molly (Kochia americana) and white bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) are also common associates [73]. Shadscale is a common component of black sagebrush and Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) communities [16]. Within northeastern mountainous rangelands of Nevada, black sagebrush and bottlebrush squirreltail are common associates.

New Mexico:
In many areas of New Mexico shadscale shares dominance with fourwing saltbush [50].

Oregon:
Within the desert or salt-desert shrublands, shadscale/bottlebrush squirreltail is one of the most common communities [64]

Utah:
Shadscale occurs in greasewood (Sarcobatus spp.), salt-desert shrublands, sagebrush [153] and pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) communities  [93,142,153]. Important shrub associates within the lower elevation, salty regions, of the Great Basin are winterfat [10,93], budsage, horsebrush (Tetradymia spp.) [10], and black sagebrush [93]. Across shadscale's range in Utah, common grass associates include Indian ricegrass, sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus) [10,93], blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) [93], needle-and-thread grass, and galleta [10]. Shadscale communities form a vegetative zone below sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities and above greasewood communities [31].

Vegetation classifications describing plant communities dominated by shadscale are listed below:

AZ [117]
CA [34,80,89,122,146]
CO [9]
ID [42]
MT [32,120]
NV [14,15,16,17,18,19,119]
NM [53]
OR [64]
UT [156]


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Shadscale is a densely clumped [19], rounded, compact native shrub [113,125]. It generally attains heights of 8 to 32 inches (20-81 cm) and widths of 12 to 68 inches (30-173 cm). Shadscale is considered an evergreen [28] to partially deciduous shrub [86], since a small percentage of leaves are dropped in the winter [137]. Branches are rigid, smooth when young [19], and spinescent with age [19,86,113,125]. The fruit is a small utricle (4-12 mm long and wide) that typically bears 1 seed. Seeds are from 0.06 to 0.08 inch (1.5-2 mm) broad [153]. 

Shadscale possesses a deep extensive rooting network [79,86]. Hodgkinson and others [79] report that the majority of  roots from plants in northern Utah were fine roots (less than 0.02 inch (<0.5 mm) in width). Wallace and others [150] report a root:shoot ratio of less than 1, excluding fine roots. Hodgkinson and others [79] evaluated root distribution within northern Utah. No significant difference (p< 0.05) in fine shadscale root (<0.5 mm) density under and between shadscale plants was observed until 29.5 inches (75 cm) below the soil surface.

Shadscale possesses wider ecological amplitude than most Atriplex species [48], and shows ploidy levels from diploid (2x) to decaploid (10x). Morphological subdivisions can be made in relation to environmental constraints. Plants of the Great Basin have relatively narrower leaves and darker spines, whereas plants of the Colorado Plateau generally have larger leaves and lighter colored spines [128].

Shadscale is relatively short lived [19,38].

RAUNKIAER [126] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte
Chamaephyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Shadscale is dioecious [113,153] and reproduces solely through seed [129]. Staminate flowers occur in clusters or in spikes [153], with pistillate flowers found near the end of smaller branches, at the base of leaves [113]. Flowers are wind pollinated resulting in "fairly" successful seed production [20,113].

The mechanisms behind shadscale germination are unclear. Laboratory germination experiments by Meyer and others [110] found a positive response to chilling that was enhanced further by dry storage. Seeds most responsive to chilling treatments were collected from warm desert fringe areas in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Freshly harvested seeds from these areas showed 20 to 50% germination after chilling and 3 years of storage. Chilling temperatures were 34 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (1-2 C). Seeds collected from cold desert areas were variable in their response to chilling. The pronounced seed bracts of shadscale provide a mechanical barrier to germination and must break down before seeds can germinate [55]. Vest [147] found fungal colonies reduced the hardness of shadscale bracteoles, facilitating germination. The slow breakdown of seed bracts may delay germination until favorable growing conditions exist [55]. The removal of dormancy in a fraction of the seed population each year spreads risk associated with germination over many years, increasing probability of establishment [110].

Within a blackbrush association of Nevada, Schultz and Ostler [132] observed little shadscale seedling recruitment until a large die-off of existing shadscale plants occurred. Seedling recruitment occurred most often under the skeleton of dead shadscale plants, after high mortality from prolonged drought. Gasto [67] observed no direct correlation between seedling emergence and location of mature plant. However, greater survival occurred when seedlings were adjacent to larger living shadscale individuals.

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Shadscale occurs in arid climates [26,86] that receive 4 to 8 inches (100-200 mm) of precipitation annually. It occurs on dry slopes, flat areas, ridges, and valley bottoms [86]. Shadscale is a facultative halophyte [28,48,68,78,94]. Salts are concentrated in trichomes and deposited on leaf surfaces [28]. It is tolerant of arid conditions [28,102,131]. Plants remain photosynthetically active down to -11.5 mP [48] and from a temperature range of  23 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (5-50 C). However, shadscale is less adapted to drought than many of its common associates [81,147], showing high mortality during periods of prolonged drought [131]. Tolerance to drought is achieved through partial shedding of leaves; this reduces water loss during severe moisture stress [102].

Soils:
Shadscale prefers well-drained [43,59,68], moderately saline soils [19,43] where groundwater is below the rooting zone. In general shadscale inhabits a wide variety of soil types, possessing no comprehensive edaphic restrictions [78]. It may inhabit a wide variety of textural classes [21,24,153], from fine [19,86,153] to sandy [86] and gravelly soils [86,153]. Shadscale is considered an indicator of subsoil salinity [13]. Shadscale prefers saline soils where salt concentrations are greatest at deeper soil levels (36 to 60 inches (91-152 cm)) [43,68], with relatively lower salt concentrations in surface soil levels (0 to 18 inches (0-46 cm)) [68]. However, shadscale performs well under a variety of salt concentrations [68,78,94]. Kleinkopf and others [94] observed shadscale seedling growth under a wide salt gradient in the greenhouse. Moderate (50 ml/l) levels of salt were beneficial, whereas higher levels were detrimental to growth. Maximum yield occurred at 50 ml/l of sodium chloride.

Shadscale does not require large amounts of soil nitrogen. Goodman [69] found nitrogen fertilization produced no significant increase (p<0.05) in biomass. 

Regional:
In Arizona shadscale mainly occurs on dry plains and mesas [91]. In California shadscale is found east of the Sierra Nevada [77] in valley bottoms [6] and in the Mojave Desert [77]. The drainage bottoms of enclosed basins or marine shale outcrops are preferred sites within the Great Basin Desert [19]. In Nevada, Break and Jenkins [29] observed significantly greater (p<0.007) shadscale coverage in coarse rocky habitat (49% sand, 51% rock) compared to sandy habitat (64% sand, 33% rock). Shadscale also occurs on nonsaline slopes of western and central Nevada below big sagebrush communities [43]. In central Utah shadscale is found within arid valleys on relatively high saline soils [61]. Alkaline plains and hills are preferred in Wyoming [54]. Within the upper Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho, shadscale communities occur in depressions and open areas on alkaline soils [5]. In the Trans-Pecos area of Texas, shadscale is found in eroded deserts, alkaline basins, flats, hills, and bluffs [125].

Elevation by state is as follows:

Arizona 2,500 to 5,000 feet (762-1,524 m) [91]
California less than 7,870 feet (< 2,400 m) [77]
Colorado 4,500 to 7,500 feet (1,372-2,286 m) [76]
New Mexico 5,000 to 6,500 feet (1,524-1,981 m) [105]
Texas 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,219-1,829 m) [149]
Utah 2,790 to 7,020 feet (850-2,140 m) [153]

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
The successional timeline of a shadscale community is generally slow in both grazed and ungrazed areas [27].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Shadscale growth is greatly related to seasonal precipitation. Shadscale is not fully deciduous, retaining the majority of its leaves through winter [1]. A small proportion of leaves are shed in the fall, with new leaves produced in March or April [113]. Within the Great Basin Desert, blooming season varies from late March in the southern portion of shadscale's range to about mid-June to the north. Shadscale generally flowers in spring [1] before the summer drought [58]. Fruits mature about 25 weeks after flowering and persist through winter [19].  

West and Gasto [155] observed shadscale phenology in northwestern Utah for 7 years (1966-1973). Twenty individuals were observed every 2 weeks from March through October. The mean date for 1st observed occurrence of phenological stages is summarized below:

Leaves regreening, apical leaf buds swelling 11 April
Twigs elongating 20 April
Floral buds developing 19 May
Flowers open 11 June
Fruit developing 7 July
Fruit dissemination 1 Sept.
Summer dormancy 11 Sept.


Everett and others [58] monitored the phenology of shadscale in a galleta-shadscale association within the Great Basin of Nevada. Over the course of 4 years (1969-1972), spring growth began most often at the end of March, with an average growing season of 126 to 130 days. Results are summarized below:

Leaf growth March-April
Twig growth April
Flowering April-May
Seed ripe June-July
Seed dissemination June-August


In western Colorado, shadscale begins vegetative growth early to mid-March, blooming in late March to mid-April. Late bloom occurs from mid-April to early May. Fruiting generally occurs in early May to mid-June with seed ripening in mid-June to early July [28].

Shadscale allocates considerable resources toward root growth. In northern Utah, root growth was observed a few days before shoot elongation and continued for several weeks after shoot elongation had ceased. The greatest root elongation was observed during June and July [62]. Seasonal root growth is linked to soil moisture depletion and soil temperature changes [35]. Root growth at various depths are summarized below [62]:

Depth Root phenology
0-20 cm Growth begins in April and peaks in May, after which growth at 0-10 cm depths ceases. Growth continues at 10-20 cm but at much slower rates, progressively decreasing until mid-Aug.
20-50 cm Growth starts in late April and peaks in May or early June. Growth gradually decreases until mid-August at 20-40 depths cm and until early Sept. at 40-50 cm depths
50-60 cm Growth begins mid-May, declines in July, peaks again in mid-August, and continues through late Sept.
60-80 cm Growth begins in late July and continues through winter.

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Historically, shadscale dominant salt-desert shrub communities were free of exotic invaders, and seeded range grasses produced relatively low amounts of fine fuels [123]. A lack of continuous fuels to carry fires made fire rare to non-existent in shadscale communities [161].

Increased presence of exotic annual grasses has greatly altered fire regimes in areas of the Intermountain West where shadscale is a major vegetational component. Exotic annuals increase fire frequency under wet to near-normal summer moisture conditions. Relatively high moisture levels promote the spread of exotic annuals and the increased production of fine fuels. Fine fuels generated by annual grasses are long lived because grass biomass decomposes slowly under the continually low atmospheric moisture conditions inherent to the Intermountain Region. In general, wet years followed by dry years increase the probability of fire, with large fires most likely in July or August [96]. Fuel loads for shadscale/black greasewood have been measured at 250 to 750 lb/acre [121].

Late-succession shadscale communities of Nevada naturally revegetate within 5 postfire years, generally producing a stand of 2 to 5 shrubs per meter. Recolonization occurs solely from soil seed reserves [162].

Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which shadscale occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding fire regimes and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where shadscale is found, see the 'Fire Ecology and Adaptations' section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [121]
Wyoming big sagebrush A. t. var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40**) [148,160]
saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus < 35 to < 100 
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70 
creosotebush Larrea tridentata < 35 to < 100 
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. < 35 [121]
(**mean)

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [139]:
Shrub without adventitious bud/root crown
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)


FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Shadscale is generally killed by fire [10,33].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No entry

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Shadscale is fire intolerant [10,33]. It does not readily recover from fire, except for establishment through seed [129,154].

Fall prescribed burning killed 100% of shadscale on study plots in a basin big sagebrush community in east-central Oregon. Spring burning left a few surviving shadscale plants but greatly reduced shadscale density and frequency (P<0.1) [130]. See the Research Project Summary of this study for more information on fire effects on shadscale and 60 additional woody plant, grass, and forb species.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
No entry

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Grazing exclusion for 2 or more years is beneficial for revegetation of postfire shadscale communities. First year shadscale seedlings lack spines and are highly susceptible to browsing. Spines develop 2nd year [162].

The slow postfire recovery of shadscale allows for easy invasion and subsequent replacement by cheatgrass in western rangelands [129].


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Atriplex confertifolia

IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Shadscale is a valuable browse species [153], providing a source of palatable, nutritious forage for a wide variety of wildlife and livestock [19]. The fruits and leaves are a food source for deer [113,125], desert bighorn sheep [25], pronghorn [3,11,136], small rodents [118], jackrabbits [49,56,113], game birds, and songbirds [113].

Big game:
Shadscale is good browse for mule deer [125], which feed upon shadscale during winter, spring, and fall in the Rocky Mountains [100]. Shadscale is a minor component of desert bighorn sheep diets [25]. Although it is not preferred [11,136], shadscale may provide winter forage for pronghorn [3].

Small mammals:
Shadscale habitats of northeastern Nevada are important home ranges for small mammals. Chisel-toothed kangaroo rats feed on shadscale foliage and use shadscale habitats during the spring, summer, and fall. Deer mice use shadscale habitats all year [118]. Shadscale leaves and seeds are preferred forage for jackrabbits [49,56]. The Great Basin kangaroo rat also feeds on shadscale foliage [103].

Birds:
The loss of shadscale and associated shrubs in southwestern Idaho has a negative effect on golden eagle habitat. Areas of shadscale shrub-steppe provide cover and forage for black-tailed jackrabbits, which are a major food source of golden eagles. Kochert and others [98] recommend maintaining shrub steppe within 1.9 miles (3.0 km) of golden eagle nests [125].

Several species of birds eat shadscale fruit [125].

Livestock:
Shadscale provides good browse for domestic sheep [125,153] and goats [125]. Shadscale leaves and seeds are an important component of domestic sheep and cattle winter diets [19,45,70,143]. The spiny branches are unsuitable for cattle [19]. Shadscale is an important forage for domestic sheep on winter ranges of the Great Basin. Greatest use was observed before seed dissemination, after which use declined except when other forage was covered with snow [71]. In the Mojave Desert shadscale is moderately preferred by domestic sheep, which use it early in the grazing season [124]. The spinescence of shadscale allows for no more than 15 to 20% use of previous herbage growth by domestic sheep [81].

PALATABILITY:
Shadscale is palatable to all domestic grazing animals [113]. Seeds are the most palatable part of shadscale. During moist weather branches are softened, increasing palatability [158]. Shadscale palatability is summarized below by state [51]:

CO MT ND OR UT WY
Cattle Fair Fair Fair ---- Fair Poor
Domestic sheep Good Good Good ---- Good Fair
Horses Poor Fair Fair ---- Poor Fair
Pronghorn ---- Poor Fair Good Fair Poor
Elk ---- ---- ---- ---- Poor Poor
Mule deer ---- Poor Fair Poor Poor Fair
White-tailed deer ---- ---- ---- ---- Poor Poor
Small Mammals Fair ---- ---- ---- Fair Fair
Small nongame birds Fair ---- ---- ---- Fair Fair
Upland game birds ---- ---- ---- ---- Fair Poor
Waterfowl ---- ---- ---- ---- Poor Poor


NUTRITIONAL VALUE:
Shadscale provides 50 and 55% of winter range requirements for phosphorus and energy, respectively [46].

Average chemical composition of shadscale during winter in desert ranges of Intermountain Region was [45]:

Ether extract (%) Total protein (%) Ash (%) Lignin (%) Cellulose (%) Other carbohydrates (%) Gross energy (kcal/lb) P (%) Carotene (mg/lb)
2.4 7.7 23.4 13.0 17.6 35.7 1648 0.09 8.9


Average digestibility of the chemical constituents, digestible protein, and metabolizable energy of shadscale during winter in desert ranges was [45]:

Ether extract (%) Total protein (%) Cellulose (%) Other carbohydrate (%) Gross energy (%) Dry matter (%) Digestible protein (%) Metabolizable energy (kcal/lb)
32.7 55.4 26.1 55.1 34.5 42.6 4.3 399


COVER VALUE:
Within shrub steppe of southwestern Idaho, shadscale provides cover for sage sparrows, Brewer's sparrows, sage thrashers, and western meadowlarks [97]. In the Great Basin it provides cover for rodents and small game [55]. Overall cover value has been rated as follows [51,101]:

CO ND OR UT WY
Pronghorn ---- Poor ---- Poor Poor
Elk ---- ---- ---- Poor Poor
Mule deer ---- Poor Poor Poor Poor
White-tailed deer ---- ---- ---- ---- Poor
Small mammals Fair ---- ---- Good Fair
Small nongame birds Fair ---- ---- Fair Fair
Upland gamebirds ---- ---- ---- Fair Poor
Waterfowl ---- ---- ---- Poor Poor


VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Revegetation of shadscale communities is inherently difficult [21,162]. Dry soil surfaces resulting from low humidity, high irradiation, and moderate to strong winds are major obstacles in revegetation projects [21].

The extensive polyploidy of shadscale is an important consideration when implementing revegetation projects [36,129] because ploidy levels are usually associated with distinct habitats. Diploid individuals are unlikely to perform as well in areas where tetraploids are more common. Diploid individuals generally occur above Pleistocene lake levels, whereas lake floors are usually occupied by autotetraploids. Octoploids generally occur at lower bottoms. Overall, tetraploids are the most widespread throughout its range [36]. Shadscale ploidy level may be determined through pyrolysis-gas chromatographic fingerprinting [138]. Sanderson and others [128] provide a list of ploidy levels for shadscale individuals inhabiting specific localities within Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, along with comparisons of morphology.

Seeding:
Due to the complex mechanisms behind shadscale seed dormancy, revegetation through seed is usually unsuccessful [55,63,111,162]. Garvin and others [66] document difficulty in breaking seed dormancy. Results from a comprehensive review of literature suggest a staggered germination pattern resulting in increased probability of survival under specific germination conditions. However, dormancy mechanisms controlling germination patterns are still unknown to an "agronomic" level of predictability. Dumas and Sanders [55] found mechanical scarification increased germination by 15% within growth chambers. Garvin and others [66] provide recommendations to improve artificial regeneration on rangelands:

Hall and Anderson [72] were successful revegetating disturbed areas of  Nellis Air Force Range, Nevada with seeded shadscale. Seeding resulted in 1 plant/m2 after 2 years.

Cuttings/seed grown transplants:
Establishment of shadscale from container stock provides the highest probability for successful revegetation [41,48]. Cuttings from juvenile plants readily propagate [157]. Crofts and Van Epps [48] recommend taking cuttings in fall or early spring and placing in a medium with good aeration.

Richardson and others [127] found no difference in the rooting ability of stems cut from different sexes. Stem cuttings treated with 0.3 indolebutyric acid (IBA) talc powder [86,127] resulted in the highest production of adventitious roots. Higher concentrations of IBA slightly reduced the overall percentage of stem cuttings with adventitious roots but had no negative effect on root development after initiation [127]. High humidity must be maintained during propagation. The rooting medium should allow for good aeration and drainage and still maintain relatively high water-holding capacity [86].

Shadscale establishes well from transplants when put out in the early spring, after 6 weeks of high soil moisture [20]. McKell [107] has shown success revegetating with container grown shadscale transplants. Seed-grown stock is available commercially [7].

OTHER USES AND VALUES:
Historically, shadscale was a food source for native Americans of the southwestern United States [37]. Seeds were used by native Americans of Arizona, Utah and Nevada for bread and mush [57].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Extensive shadscale die-off occurred within the Great Basin from 1977 to 1986, during a historically high period of precipitation. Greatest die-off was from 1983 to 1985. Areas of severe die-off were most often within valley bottoms or upland depressions where prolonged periods of high soil moisture occurred [116]. Several theories for causative agents have been presented [115,116,152]. Prolonged periods of high soil moisture are believed to increase shadscale's susceptibility to parasites and disease [152]. Shadscale is very susceptible to water mold, root rot, and vascular wilt fungi [116]. Mealy bugs and scale insects found in the crown and upper root zone of shadscale may also lead to high mortality [115]. Weber and others [152] found high soil conductivity and moisture significantly (p<0.05) correlated with shadscale die-off. This, in conjunction with genetically uniform populations within the Pleistocene lake bottoms of the Great Basin, lends to large-scale disease outbreak.

Walser and others [151] evaluated cold hardiness of shadscale between December and March. Observations suggest that -67 degrees Fahrenheit (-55 C) in December and -53 degrees Fahrenheit (-47 C) in March are sufficient to damage plants so that upcoming summer stress results in high mortality. If a cold spell is preceded by temperatures greater than freezing, the cold tolerance of shadscale is greatly reduced.

Pocket gophers may kill shadscale by severing the stem while feeding on roots [21].

Grazing:
In shadscale communities of the Great Basin, grazing pressure has increased the overall presence of exotic annuals such as cheatgrass, halogeton, and Russian-thistle (Salsola kali). However, Harper and others [75] observed grazed shadscale communities suppressed growth of exotic annuals. At the present time, the ability to indefinitely suppress of exotic annuals through close management is still under question.

The spinescent habit of shadscale lends to its browsing tolerance [19,85]. Increased presence of shadscale within grazed versus ungrazed areas is generally a result of the decreased competition from more heavily browsed associates [19,39,81]. Reduced competition from more palatable species in heavily grazed areas may increase shadscale germination and establishment. Chambers and Norton [38] found shadscale establishment higher under spring than winter browsing as well as heavy compared to light browsing (p<0.01).

Within the northern Great Plains (Montana), shadscale is most tolerant of intermediate livestock stocking rates [82]. Hutchings [84] recommends 25% use of annual shadscale growth within winter ranges of Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho, and southwest Wyoming. Cook and Child [44] found shadscale was most tolerant of light (30% overall herbage removal) winter browsing. Heavy (90% herbage removal) grazing during spring and/or winter reduces shadscale. Shadscale is also tolerant of early spring (1 April) light-intensity browsing.

During years of below average precipitation, shadscale is very susceptible to grazing pressure regardless of season (grazing × season × intensity interaction effects,  p<0.05) in Desert Experimental Range, Utah [38].


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