Longer-term evaluation of revegetation of medusahead-invaded sagebrush steppe.
Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae [L.] Nevski) and other exotic annual grasses have invaded millions of hectares of sagebrush (Artemisia L.) steppe. Revegetation of medusahead-invaded sagebrush steppe with perennial vegetation is critically needed to restore productivity and decrease the risk of frequent wildfires. However, it is unclear if revegetation efforts provide long-term benefits (fewer exotic annuals and more perennials). The limited literature available on the topic questions whether revegetation efforts reduce medusahead abundance beyond 2 or 3 yr. We evaluated revegetation of medusahead-invaded rangelands for 5 yr after seeding introduced perennial bunchgrasses at five locations. We compared areas that were fall-prescribed burned immediately followed by an imazapic herbicide treatment and then seeded with bunchgrasses 1 yr later (imazapic-seed) with untreated controls (control). The imazapic-seed treatment decreased exotic annual grass cover and density. At the end of the study, exotic annual grass cover and density were 2-fold greater in the control compared with the imazapic-seed treatment. The imazapic-seed treatment had greater large perennial bunchgrass cover and density and less annual forb (predominately exotic annuals) cover and density than the untreated control for the duration of the study. At the end of the study, large perennial bunchgrass density average 10 plant.m-2 in the imazapic-seed treatment, which is comparable with intact sagebrush steppe communities. Plant available soil nitrogen was also greater in the imazapic-seed treatment compared with the untreated control for the duration of the study. The results of this study suggest that revegetation of medusahead-invaded sagebrush steppe can provide lasting benefits, including limiting exotic annual grasses.