Great Basin Naturalist


Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) stands were accidentally sprayed with 2,4-D in a sagebrush control program in western Wyoming in 1958. We visited the site during the summer of 1981 to evaluate the long-term effect on the aspen trees and the associated vegetation. Initially, some observers believed that the aspen had been "destroyed." Subsequent data indicate just the opposite—aspen stocking appeared to have been improved by the treatment. On two of the sampled clones, 22 years after spraying, there were approximately 17,000 more suckers/ha on the sprayed than on the unsprayed plots. These are adequate numbers to restock the site to pretreatment densities. Although undergrowth vegetation appeared to be changed as a result of the treatment, this cannot be attributed solely to the herbicide because heavy grazing, mostly by domestic livestock, has occurred on the grazing allotment. A similarity index was calculated between sprayed and unsprayed portions of the same aspen clones. Forbs were still less on the sprayed areas, whereas grasses were similar on the sprayed and unsprayed areas. Spraying apparently does not have as adverse an effect on aspen communities as some conservationists originally thought.