Observations of Bromus tectorum L. (cheatgrass or downy brome) monocultures have shown that populations are susceptible to stand die-off or replacement failures. Die-offs, where the seed bank from the previous year fails to emerge, occurs in cheatgrass stands and it is unclear the trigger or cause. The fungus Fusarium has been identified in plant and seed samples from die-offs and may drive die-off activity through pathogenicity. Die-off recovery may take several years but cheatgrass populations eventually reestablish. The purpose of our study was to determine whether Fusarium is a potential player in a die-off, and understand how die-offs recover after multiple years of stand failure. Our objectives were to determine: 1- litter and water effects on die-off activity; 2- if fungal pathogens, such as Fusarium, decrease the proportion of cheatgrass emergence in a die-off; and 3- whether direct or broadcast seeding, water, and litter treatments increase establishment in recovering die-offs. Litter absent plots had significantly (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.001) more emergence at 49.2% and 41% compared to litter present plots 21.3% and 23.7%. The litter absent plots significantly (P = 0.0003 and P = 0.001) increased survival (82% and 52%) compared to litter present plots (70% and 41%). Direct planted versus broadcast seeding had significantly (P < 0.0001) more emergence, 36% to 11.9%. The addition of Fusarium inoculum to field plots did not effectively replicate anticipated disease levels. The fungicide treatment did not have a significant influence at either site. The results from the study indicate that nothing inhibits cheatgrass from establishing following a persistent die-off disturbance. A unique window may be available for land managers to revegetate natives in invasive populations as large quantities of cheatgrass seeds fail to emerge during die-off events.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Nicholson, Joshua Alan, "Cheatgrass Die-Off Phenomena: What are the Short and Long Term Recovery Factors of Bromus tectorum Stand Failure?" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 4311.
cheatgrass, die-off, Fusarium, stand replacement failure, invasive, Great Basin