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Vegetation dynamics at a Mojave Desert restoration site, 1992 to 2007

Ott, Jeffrey E.; McArthur, E. Durant; Sanderson, Stewart C. 2011. Vegetation dynamics at a Mojave Desert restoration site, 1992 to 2007. In: Wambolt, Carl L.; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Fisina, Michael R.; Sowell, Bok; Keigley, Richard B.; Palacios, Patsy; Robinson, Jill, comps. Proceedings of the 15th wildland shrub symposium; June 17-19, 2008; Bozeman, MT. Natural Resources and Environmental Issues. 16: Article 15.

The Twist Hollow restoration site on BLM land near St. George, Utah, had been badly disturbed by sand mining, rock quarrying, dumping, off-road vehicles and target shooting prior to its closure and treatment. In December 1992 the site was sculpted and drill seeded with Indian ricegrass (Stipa hymenoides), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), galleta (Hilaria jamesii), gooseberryleaf globemallow (Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia) Palmer penstemon (Penstemon palmeri), fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) and winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) in an effort restore natural vegetation and desert tortoise habitat. Vegetation was sampled before and after treatment and subsequently monitored over a period of 14 years. With the exception of winterfat, all the seeded species established and increased in density and/or cover during the period 1993-1998. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) also increased and became dominant during this period. Seeding was most successful on a rockier substrate where fourwing saltbush became a dominant shrub. Drought conditions after 1998 corresponded with declines in most seeded species while broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), hairy goldenaster (Chrysopsis villosa), desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and sandsage (Artemisia filifolia) increased through recruitment from surrounding vegetation. Sandsage was the dominant shrub of nearby undisturbed sandy sites and grew rapidly following establishment in a sandier portion of the treated area. Cheatgrass and other annuals fluctuated from year to year in the treated area but had lower density and cover than nearby untreated areas throughout the monitoring period. We conclude that the restoration project's objectives have been met to varying degrees despite the limited persistence of the seeded species. Further research into management techniques aimed at reducing annual grasses and enhancing high-quality desert tortoise forage is recommended.

Keywords: vegetation, restoration, Mojave Desert

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Vegetation dynamics at a Mojave Desert restoration site, 1992 to 2007
Electronic Publish Date: July 6, 2011
Last Update:
July 6, 2011

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