Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Effects of Targeted Grazing and Prescribed Burning on Community and Seed Dynamics of a Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum)–Dominated Landscape

  • Joel M. Diamond (a1), Christopher A. Call (a2) and Nora Devoe (a3)

Downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.)—dominated communities can remain as stable states for long periods, even with frequent disturbance by grazing and fire. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of using targeted cattle grazing and late-season prescribed burning, alone and in combination, to reduce B. tectorum seed bank input and seed bank density and thus alter aboveground community dynamics (species composition) on a B. tectorum–dominated landscape in northern Nevada. Cattle removed 80 to 90% of standing biomass in grazed plots in May of 2005 and 2006 when B. tectorum was in the boot (phenological) stage. Grazed and ungrazed plots were burned in October 2005 and 2006. The combined grazing–burning treatment was more effective than either treatment alone in reducing B. tectorum seed input and seed bank density, and in shifting species composition from a community dominated by B. tectorum to one composed of a suite of species, with B. tectorum as a component rather than a dominant. This study provides a meso-scale precursor for landscape-scale adaptive management using grazing and burning methodologies.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author's E-mail:
Hide All
Allen, P. S., Meyer, S. E., and Beckstead, J. 1995. Seed after-ripening in B. tectorum L. J. Exp. Bot. 279:17371744.
Blaisdell, J. P. 1958. Seasonal Development and Yield of Native Plants on the Upper Snake River Plains and Their Relation to Certain Climatic Factors. Washington, DC U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 1190. 68 p.
Bunting, S. C., Kilgore, B. M., and Bushey, C. L. 1987. Guidelines for Prescription Burning Sagebrush–Grass Rangelands in the Northern Great Basin. Ogden, UT U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-231. 33 p.
Burgert, K. L., Burnside, O. C., Wicks, G. A., and Fenster, C. R. 1971. Longevity of shattercane and downy brome seed buried at three locations across Nebraska. Pages 84 in Proceedings of the 26th North Central Weed Control Conference. Champaign, IL North Central Weed Science Society, Inc.
Chabrerie, O. and Alard, D. 2005. Comparison of three seed trap types in a chalk grassland: toward a standardised protocol. Plant Ecol. 176:101112.
Chambers, J. C. and MacMahon, J. A. 1994. A day in the life of a seed: movements and fates of seeds and their implications for natural and managed systems. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 25:263292.
Champlin, M. R. 1982. Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) Ecology and Management with Emphasis on Prescribed Burning. Ph.D Dissertation. Corvallis, OR Oregon State University. 136 p.
D'Antonio, C. M. and Vitousek, P. M. 1992. Biological invasion by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle and global change. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 23:6387.
Daubenmire, R. F. 1940. Plant succession due to improper grazing in the Agropyron bunchgrass prairie of southeastern Washington. Ecology 21:5564.
Daubenmire, R. F. 1975. Plant succession on abandoned fields, and fire influences, in a steppe area in southeastern Washington. Northwest Sci. 49:3648.
Diamond, J. M., Call, C. A., and Devoe, N. 2009. Effects of targeted cattle grazing on fire behavior of cheatgrass-dominated rangeland in the northern Great Basin, USA. Int. J. Wildland Fire 18:944950.
Dittberner, P. L. and Olson, M. R. 1983. The Plant Information Network (PIN) Database: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Washington, DC U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service FWS/OBS-83/86. 786 p.
Evans, R. A. and Young, J. A. 1970. Plant litter and establishment of alien annual weed species in rangeland communities. Weed Sci. 18:679703.
Evans, R. A. and Young, J. A. 1984. Microsite requirements of downy brome (Bromus tectorum) infestation and control of sagebrush rangelands. Weed Sci. 32:1317.
Facelli, J. M. and Pickett, S. T. A. 1991. Plant litter: its dynamics and effects on plant community structure. Bot. Rev. 57:131.
Hassan, M. A. and West, N. E. 1986. Dynamics of soil seed pools in burned and unburned sagebrush semi-deserts. Ecology 67:269272.
Hempy-Mayer, K. and Pyke, D. A. 2008. Defoliation effects on Bromus tectorum seed production: implications for grazing. Rangeland Ecol. Manag. 61:116123.
Hironaka, M. and Tisdale, E. W. 1963. Secondary succession in annual vegetation in southern Idaho. Ecology 44:810812.
Hulbert, L. C. 1955. Ecological studies of Bromus tectorum and other annual brome grasses. Ecol. Monogr. 25:181213.
Humphrey, L. D. and Schupp, E. W. 2001. Seedbanks of Bromus tectorum–dominated communities in the Great Basin. Western North Amer. Nat. 61:8592.
Knapp, P. A. 1996. Cheatgrass (B. tectorum L.) dominance in the Great Basin Desert: history, persistence and influences to human activities. Global Environ. Change 6(1):3752.
Kostivkovsky, V. and Young, J. A. 2000. Invasive exotic rangeland weeds: a glimpse at some of their native habitats. Rangelands 22(6):36.
Mack, R. N. and Pyke, D. A. 1983. The demography of Bromus tectorum: variation in time and space. J. Ecol. 71:6993.
Mack, R. N. and Pyke, D. A. 1984. The demography of Bromus tectorum: the role of microclimate, grazing and disease. J. Ecol. 72:731748.
McAdoo, K., Schultz, B., Swanson, S., and Orr, R. 2007. Northeastern Nevada Wildfires 2006. Part 2—Can Livestock be Used to Reduce Wildfires? University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 07-21. Accessed March 1, 2008
Melgoza, G. and Nowak, R. S. 1991. Competition between cheatgrass and two native species after fire: implications from observations and measurements of root distribution. J. Range Manag. 44:2733.
Miller, F. M., Svejcar, T. J., and West, N. E. 1994. Implications of livestock grazing in the intermountain sagebrush region: plant composition. Pages 101146 in Vara, M., Laycock, W. A., and Pieper, R. D., eds. Ecological Implications of Livestock Herbivory in the West. Denver, CO Society for Range Management.
Morrow, L. A. and Stahlman, P. W. 1984. The history and distribution of downy brome (Bromus tectorum) in North America. Weed Sci. 32:26.
Mosley, J. C. and Roselle, L. 2006. Targeted livestock grazing to suppress invasive annual grasses. Pages 6877 in Launchbaugh, K., ed. Targeted Grazing: A Natural Approach to Vegetation Management and Landscape Enhancement. Denver, CO: American Sheep Industry Association.
Pellant, M. and Hall, C. 1994. Distribution of two exotic grasses on public lands in the Great Basin: status in 1992. Pages 109112 in Monsen, S. B., and Kitchen, S. G., eds. Proceedings—Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands. Ogden, UT U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-GTR-313.
Peters, E. F. and Bunting, S. C. 1994. Conditions pre- and post-occurrence of annual grasses on the Snake River Plain. Pages 3136 in Monsen, S. B., and Kitchen, S. G., eds. Proceedings—Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands. Ogden, UT U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-GTR-313.
Piemeisel, R. L. 1951. Causes affecting change and rate of change in a vegetation of annuals in Idaho. Ecology 32:5372.
Pyke, A. P. and Novak, S. J. 1994. Cheatgrass demography—establishment attributes, recruitment, ecotypes and genetic variability. Pages 1221 in Monsen, S. B., and Kitchen, S. G., eds. Proceedings—Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands. Ogden, UT U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-GTR-313.
Rice, P. M. 2005. Downy brome Bromus tectorum L. Pages 147170 in Duncan, C. L., and Clark, J. K., eds. Invasive Plants of Range and Wildlands and Their Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts. Lawrence, KS Weed Science Society of America.
Rickard, W. H. 1985. Experimental cattle grazing in a relatively undisturbed shrubsteppe community. Northwest Sci. 59(1):6672.
SAS Institute. 2005. JMP Statistics and Graphics Guide. Version 5. Cary, NC SAS Institute. p. 107144.
Smith, D. C., Meyer, S. E., and Anderson, V. J. 2008. Factors affecting Bromus tectorum seed bank carryover in western Utah. Rangeland Ecol. Manag. 61:430436.
Sternberg, M., Gutman, M., Perevolotsky, A., and Kigel, J. 2003. Effects of grazing on soil seed bank dynamics: an approach with functional groups. J. Veg. Sci. 14:375386.
Thill, D. C., Beck, G., and Callihan, R. H. 1984. The biology of downy brome. Weed Sci. 32:712.
Uresk, D. W., Cline, J. F., and Rickard, W. H. 1979. Growth rates of a cheatgrass community and some associated factors. J. Range Manag. 32:168170.
[USDA NRCS] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service. 1997. Soil Survey of the Quinn River Valley. http://www.NRCS/ Accessed March 1, 2008.
[USDI BLM] U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 1998. Final Multiple Use Decision, Daveytown Allotment. Winnemucca, NV Bureau of Land Management, Winnemucca Field Office. 33 p.
Volodina, I. A. 1992. Features of horizontal seed distribution in soils of Kalmykia. Botanicheski Zhurnal 77(5):4043.
Whisenant, S. G. 1990. Changing fire frequencies on Idaho's Snake River Plains: ecological and management implications. Pages 410 in Macarthur, E. D., Romney, E. M., Smith, S. D., and Tueller, compliers, P. T. Proceedings—Symposium on Cheatgrass Invasion, Shrub Die-off and Other Aspects of Shrub Biology and Management. Ogden, UT USDA Forest Service General Technical Report INT-276.
Wright, H. A. and Bailey, A. W. 1982. Fire Ecology: United States and Southern Canada. New York J. Wiley. 501 p.
Wright, H. A. and Klemmedson, J. O. 1965. Effects of fire on bunchgrasses of the sagebrush–grass region in southern Idaho. Ecology 46:680688.
Young, J. A. and Clements, C. D. 2009. Cheatgrass: Fire and Forage on the Range. Reno, NV University of Nevada Press. 348 p.
Young, J. A. and Evans, R. A. 1975. Germinability of seed reserves in a big sagebrush community. Weed Sci. 23:358364.
Young, J. A. and Evans, R. A. 1978. Population dynamics after wildfires in sagebrush grasslands. J. Range Manag. 31:283289.
Young, J. A. and Evans, R. A. 1981. Demography and fire history of a western juniper stand. J. Range Manag. 34:501505.
Young, J. A., Evans, R. A., and Eckert, R. E. 1969. Population dynamics of downy brome. Weed Sci. 17:2026.
Young, J. A., Evans, R. A., Gifford, R. O., and Eckert, R. E. Jr. 1970. Germination characteristics of three species of Cruciferae. Weed Sci. 18:4148.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
  • URL: /core/journals/invasive-plant-science-and-management
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed