Great Basin Naturalist


A population outbreak of Wahweap milkvetch (A. lentiginosus var. wahweapensis Welsh) occurred in the Henry Mountains area of southeastern Utah in 1985 and 1986, causing extensive locoweed poisoning in cattle grazing these winter ranges. Weather conditions supporting this population outbreak included above average precipitation in the fall of 1984 and 1985, which presumably allowed germination of seed lying dormant in the soil. Above average spring precipitation in the subsequent year supported the population growth. Part of the population died in the summer of 1985, and nearly all plants died in the summer of 1986. Historically, population outbreaks occurred every six to eight years: 1949, 1957, 1965, 1973, 1979, and 1985–1986. Correlation with weather records indicated that population outbreaks occurred in years of high spring and total annual precipitation. Wahweap milkvetch seed lying dormant in the soil ranged from 940 to 4,346 seed/m2 where old stands occurred, and 20 to 40 seed/m2 where old plants were not evident. Sufficient seed remains in the soil to cause future population outbreaks.