Dr. Susan E. Meyer
Cheatgrass Invasion Biology
Susan Garvin, Shrub Sciences Lab, Provo UT
Dr Phil Allen, Brigham Young University, Provo UT
Dr. Julie Beckstead, Gonzaga University, Spokane WA
Dr. Jeanne Chambers, RMRS, Reno NV
Dr. Bruce Roundy, Brigham Young University, Provo UT
Dr. Robert Blank, ARS, Reno NV
We began our work on the dynamics of cheatgrass invasion in 1997 with a four-year study at Camelback, an intact (uninvaded) salt desert shrubland site on US Army Dugway Proving Grounds in western Utah. This study was funded through the CSREES Rangelands Special Grants Program. We studied the effects of variation in disturbance regime and of resource manipulations on the ability of this shrubland to resist cheatgrass invasion.
At about the same time, our former student Julie Beckstead, with Shrub Lab logistical support, began her doctoral dissertation research (University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana) at a patchily invaded salt desert shrubland site in south Skull Valley, several miles east of the Camelback site. She too examined the effects of resource manipulation, but also looked at interactions with grasshopper herbivores and at spatiotemporal components of variation in cheatgrasss density and success. She received her Ph.D. for this research in 2000.
More recently, we have partnered with Dr. Phil Allen in a large-scale field experiment examining the effects of biodiversity, species composition, and plant density on the ability of cheatgrass as well as other annual grasses to invade in a sagebrush-grassland ecological setting. This research has received funding from Sant Foundation through Brigham Young University.
We are also working on a component of a larger study on vegetation dynamics in sagebrush steppe and pinyon-juniper woodlands, through funding from Joint Fire Sciences. In our component, directed by Dr. Jeanne Chambers, we are looking at the effects of site quality (along an altitudinal gradient from sagebrush steppe to upper pinyon-juniper woodland), simulated herbivory (controlled removal of understory perennials), and fire on resource status and cheatgrass invasion success in the East Tintic Mountains west of Provo UT. A parallel companion study is also underway in the Shoshone Mountains of central Nevada.