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Publication Information

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Title: Learning to live with cheatgrass: Giving up or a necessary paradigm shift?

Author: Kitchen, Stanley G.;

Date: 2014

Source: Rangelands. 36(2): 32-36.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Natural ecosystems in the semiarid West face many stressors. Among the most challenging are those associated with invasive plant species. One invader that has had great impact over the last 100 years is the annual grass known as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). A few years ago, I made two observations that both confirmed and broadened my perception of this plant. In the first, I saw it growing on sodden roofs in an historic community near the Mississippi River. I was reminded that the scientific name roughly means "brome grass that grows on roofs" and I gained insight into its long coexistence with humans. Later that day I observed a plant growing in the mud on the bank of the river. I pondered about what that place could possibly have in common with the vast shrublands of the semiarid West where cheatgrass has become so entrenched. Recently I found plants growing directly from the smallest of cracks in massive limestone slabs in the deserts of western Utah (Fig. 1). Reflexively I pondered, "Is there any place on earth cheatgrass cannot grow?"

Keywords: cheatgrass, species migrations, invasives, Intermountain West, Bromus tectorum, ecosystem services

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Kitchen, Stanley G. 2014. Learning to live with cheatgrass: Giving up or a necessary paradigm shift? Rangelands. 36(2): 32-36.


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