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Climate and Grazing Affect Prairie Grass Reproduction

Photo of RMRS scientists and university collaborators collect buds from the Buffalo Gap National Grassland for a growth chamber experiment.  Jacqueline P. Ott, South Dakota State UniversityRMRS scientists and university collaborators collect buds from the Buffalo Gap National Grassland for a growth chamber experiment. Jacqueline P. Ott, South Dakota State UniversitySnapshot : Climate Change and Grazing Can Alter the Amount of Bud Outgrowth of Both Invasive and Native Grasses.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Butler, Jack L.  
Research Location : Buffalo Gap National Grassland
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 798

Summary

Most stems of North American Great Plains grasses come from below-ground vegetative buds rather than from seeds, therefore, grassland biomass production depends on bud outgrowth into stems. Climate change and grazing can alter the amount of bud outgrowth of both invasive and native grasses. Invasive species could expand under climate change, especially if their bud outgrowth is superior to bud outgrowth of native species under a range of environmental conditions.

Forest Service research examined the bud outgrowth of the native western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) and the invasive smooth brome (Bromus inermis) under a range of environmental conditions including multiple temperatures, drought, and clipping.

Smooth brome had more buds per stem than western wheatgrass. A greater proportion of smooth brome buds became stems under all temperature and moisture conditions. Western wheatgrass bud outgrowth was reduced at temperatures above 72 degrees Fahreinheit (22.22 degrees Celsius). Short-term drought did not significantly impact bud outgrowth of either species.

Clipping increased western wheatgrass bud mortality and temporarily reduced its bud outgrowth.The robust bud outgrowth of smooth brome under a range of environmental conditions is a key mechanism enabling its expansion into northern mixed-grass prairie in North America.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Jacqueline P. Ott, South Dakota State University
  • Lan Xu, South Dakota State University
  • Yuping Rong, China Agricultural University