Great Basin Naturalist


Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) is a dominant weed that has increased the frequency of wildfire in the Great Basin since its introduction about 100 yr ago. This study examines characteristics of respiratory metabolism in several different populations. Seeds from 6 populations were germinated and metabolic heat rates (q) and dark respiration rates (RCO2) of all seedlings were measured calorimetrically at 15° and 25°C or (for 3 populations) at 5° intervals from 5° to 35°C. Growth rates, substrate carbon conversion efficiencies, and Arrhenius temperature coefficients were calculated from the data. Results show that cheatgrass metabolism is most efficient at temperatures near 0°C; at temperatures above 20–25°C, efficiency goes to zero. Cheatgrass populations differ in their temperature dependencies of substrate carbon conversion efficiency and predicted growth rate. Measurements of respiratory heat and CO2 rates as functions of temperature can be made relatively quickly and used to aid understanding of metabolic adaptation by invasive and native species to the environment.