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1 July 2016 Disturbance History, Management, and Seeding Year Precipitation Influences Vegetation Characteristics of Crested Wheatgrass Stands
Aleta M. Nafus, Tony J. Svejcar, Kirk W. Davies
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Abstract

Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum [L] Gaertm. and Agropyron desertorum [Fisch.] Schult.) has been seeded across millions of hectares of the sagebrush steppe and is often associated with native species displacement and low biological diversity. However, native vegetation composition of these seedings can be variable. To gain better understanding of the correlation between vegetation characteristics of crested wheatgrass seedings and their seeding history and management, we evaluated 121 crested wheatgrass seedings across a 54 230-km2 area in southeastern Oregon. Higher precipitation in the year following seeding of crested wheatgrass has long-term, negative effects on Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. subsp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) cover and density. Wyoming big sagebrush cover and density were positively correlated with age of seeding and time since fire. We also found that preseeding disturbance (burned, scarified, plowed, or herbicide) appears to have legacy effects on plant community characteristics. For example, herbicide-treated sites had significantly fewer shrubs than sites that were burned or scarified preseeding. Native vegetation cover and density were greater in grazed compared with ungrazed crested wheatgrass stands. The results of this study suggest a number of factors influence native vegetation cover and density within stands of seeded crested wheatgrass. Though disturbance history and precipitation following seeding can't be modified, management actions may affect the cover and abundance of native vegetation in crested wheatgrass stands. Notably, grazing may reduce monoculture characteristics of crested wheatgrass stands and fire exclusion may promote sagebrush and perennial forbs.

Aleta M. Nafus, Tony J. Svejcar, and Kirk W. Davies "Disturbance History, Management, and Seeding Year Precipitation Influences Vegetation Characteristics of Crested Wheatgrass Stands," Rangeland Ecology and Management 69(4), 248-256, (1 July 2016). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2016.03.003
Received: 18 December 2015; Accepted: 1 March 2016; Published: 1 July 2016
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KEYWORDS
Agropyron cristatum
burning
grazing
legacy effects
sagebrush seedbed
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