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Individual Highlight

Climate Change and Grazing Alter Invasive and Native Perennial Grass Stem Recruitment

Photo of A western wheatgrass bud has started to grow out from the base of its parent stem. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.A western wheatgrass bud has started to grow out from the base of its parent stem. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Scientists found that smooth brome, an invasive perennial grass, out-performed the native western wheatgrass under a variety of temperature and moisture conditions. Findings from this study help understand the competitive ability of smooth brome and have important implications for predicting vegetation dynamics under climate change.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Butler, Jack L. Ott, Jacqueline P.
Research Location : Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, S.D.
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1012

Summary

The robust vegetative reproductive capacity of smooth brome under a range of environmental conditions is a key mechanism enabling the expansion of this invasive grass species into western wheatgrass-dominated mixed-grass prairie in North America. Mixed-grass prairie dominated by western wheatgrass experiencing repeated defoliation may require longer recovery times and be more susceptible to smooth brome invasion due to the negative impact of grazing on western wheatgrass bud outgrowth. Seedling recruitment of perennial grasses is rare as most tillers (grass stems) are recruited from vegetative belowground buds. Successful tiller recruitment and establishment of native perennial grasses via the bud bank will be necessary for mixed-grass prairie to be resilient to climate change, plant invasions and grazing.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
  • Lan Xu - South Dakota State University (Principal Investigator)
  • Yuping Rong, China Agricultural University