Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Bromus rubens
(red brome)

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Datasheet

Bromus rubens (red brome)

Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Panicle of B. rubens.
TitlePanicle
CaptionPanicle of B. rubens.
CopyrightAbdelkader Taleb
Panicle of B. rubens.
PaniclePanicle of B. rubens.Abdelkader Taleb

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Bromus rubens L.

Preferred Common Name

  • red brome

Other Scientific Names

  • Anisantha rubens (L.) Nevski
  • Bromus dilatatus Poir.
  • Bromus madritensis subsp. rubens (L.) Hussenot
  • Bromus purpurascens Delile

International Common Names

  • English: foxtail brome; foxtail chess; red bromegrass)
  • Spanish: plumerillo rojo
  • French: brome rougeâtre
  • Portuguese: espadana

Local Common Names

  • Finland: tupsukattara
  • Germany: Rote Trespe; Rötliche Trespe
  • Italy: forasacco purpureo

EPPO code

  • BRORU (Bromus rubens)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Bromus
  •                                 Species: Bromus rubens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The synonym Anisantha rubens (L.) Nevski has been used until quite recently in Europe (e.g. Stace, 1991), this genus name being applied to species otherwise included in Bromus sect. Genea Dumort., differing from Bromus sensu stricto in having spikelets almost straight-sided, widening towards the top, rather than ovate to lanceolate, and having glumes with only one to three veins.

B. rubens and B. madritensis are very closely related. They are treated as subspecies of B. madritensis by some systematists: the type species subsp. madritensis and red brome subsp. rubens (Wilken and Painter, 1993). Esnault (1984) described patterns of geographic variation in B. madritensis in Mediterranean Europe and northern Africa, providing evidence for intergradations between the two subspecies in their native ranges. Others treat them as distinct species (Kearney et al., 1960; Tutin et al., 1980; Welsh et al., 1987; Pavlik, 1995; Kartesz and Meacham, 1999; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004). For the purposes of this Compendium, data on B. rubens and B. madritensis are presented in separate species datasheets.

Description

Top of page B. rubens is an annual plant with erect stems or ascending culms to 16-40 cm. Leaf blades and sheaths have small, soft hairs; blade 4-12 cm x 2-5 mm; ligule 2-5 mm, whitish. Inflorescence 30-75 mm x 15-37 mm, stiffly erect, dense, ovoid at the top, wedge-shaped at the base; rachis internodes generally <1-3 mm; reddish brown to purplish at maturity. Spikelet 4- to 11-flowered, uppermost 4-6 sterile and reduced; size 20-50 mm; densely crowded; wedge-shaped; soft or stiff hairs; cylindric to slightly compressed; sessile; lower glume 1-veined, 3-8 mm; upper glume 3-veined, 4-10 mm; both glumes narrow, gradually tapering to a short point, smooth or with soft hairs, and translucent. Lemma 4-15 mm long narrowly toothed with short stiff hairs; awn 9-22 mm and generally straight; palea shorter than lemma, very narrow. Caryopsis 4-11 mm. Seed lanceolate with short stiff hairs, bounded by palea and lemma with long, rough awn. For further information see Maire (1955), Munz and Keck (1959) and Wilken and Painter (1993).

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution

Top of page The native distribution shown in the country list is based on data from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2004) and USDA-ARS (2004). The occurrence in the Azores is doubtful according to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2004).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IsraelPresentNativePost, 1933
JapanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Hitchcock, 1944; Gibbs Russel et al., 1955; Holmgren and Holmgren, 1977; Tselev, 1984; Koyama, 1987; Kon and Blacklow, 1989
JordanPresentNative Not invasive Holm et al., 1979
TurkeyPresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative Not invasive Jahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Quezél and Santa, 1963; Fenni et al., 2001
EgyptPresentNative Invasive Jahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; USDA-ARS, 2004
LibyaPresentNative Not invasive Jahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Ali et al., 1989
MoroccoPresentNative Not invasive Jahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Valdes et al., 2002
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Hitchcock, 1944; Gibbs Russel et al., 1955; Holmgren and Holmgren, 1977; Tselev, 1984
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentNativeScholz and Böcker, 1996
TunisiaPresentNative Invasive Jahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; USDA-ARS, 2004

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Hitchcock, 1944; Gibbs Russel et al., 1955; Holmgren and Holmgren, 1977; Tselev, 1984
MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Hitchcock, 1944; Gibbs Russel et al., 1955; Holmgren and Holmgren, 1977; Tselev, 1984
USAPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-IdahoPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-MarylandPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950
-MissouriPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2004
-NevadaPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-New YorkPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-OregonPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; CalEPPC, 1999
-TexasPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-UtahPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedHitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951; CalEPPC, 1999

Central America and Caribbean

British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Gleason and Cronquist, 1991

Europe

CyprusPresentNativeOsorio-Tafall and Seraphim, 1973; Meikle, 1985; Papastylianou, 1990
FrancePresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Guinochet and Vilmorin, 1984; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
-CorsicaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004
GermanyPresentOtto et al., 2015Oberlausitz and Elbh¨gelland
GreecePresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004
-CretePresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004
ItalyPresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Tutin et al., 1980; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
-SardiniaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004
-SicilyPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004
PortugalPresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
-AzoresAbsent, unreliable recordJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
SpainPresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Tutin et al., 1980; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
-Balearic IslandsPresentNativeJahandiez and Maire, 1931; Maire, 1955; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004
UKPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2004

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2004
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1945Forde and Edgar, 1995

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page B. rubens was introduced into the USA from southern Europe probably in the mid-1800s (Burcham, 1957). It is most likely that the introduction of this species, along with other annual exotic species with low forage value, was unintentional (Burcham, 1957). B. rubens occurs throughout the western USA from Washington to California, east to Arizona, Utah and Texas, and is localized north to Massachusetts. It is especially prevalent in the Pacific region (Hitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951). It is classified as invasive in Australia and western USA (Weber, 2003).

Habitat

Top of page B. rubens occurs at low to medium elevations (below 5000 ft) along roadsides, in waste places, rangelands and cultivated fields (Munz and Keck, 1959; Beatley, 1966; Crampton, 1974). It is commonly found growing on shallow dry soil or poor textured, clayey soil (Sampson et al., 1951; Wu and Jain, 1978). Due to the autumn germination and the winter growth period, B. rubens grows in areas with hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. This species is killed by winter freeze and requires between 10 and 25 cm of precipitation throughout its growing season (Hulbert, 1955; Bartolome et al., 1980).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page B. rubens is considered to be a noxious weed in agricultural and horticultural crops, including orchards and olive trees (Hamal et al., 2001). The main crops affected are wheat and barley and crops in rotation with cereals (sugarbeet, sunflower, faba beans, etc.; Taleb, 1997).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Helianthus annuus (sunflower)AsteraceaeMain
Hordeum vulgare (barley)PoaceaeMain
Triticum aestivum (wheat)PoaceaeMain
Triticum turgidum (durum wheat)PoaceaeMain
Vicia faba (faba bean)FabaceaeMain
Vitis (grape)VitaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

The chromosome number is 2n = 28, the same as B. madritensis (Acedo and Llamas, 1999).

Physiology and Phenology

The seed dormancy period depends on the geographic location of the plant (Jain, 1982). Seeds that are produced and mature in the spring, usually remain dormant throughout the hot, dry period of the summer and then germinate after the first rainfall that exceeds 1 cm (Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Precipitation affects germination much more than it influences other stages of growth (Hufstader, 1978). Moisture plays a greater role than temperature in influencing germination: a germination rate of 54% occurred over a period of 3 months, each with different average temperatures, provided that the moisture in the soil was not limiting (Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Bromus spp. seeds germinated and emerged at a soil depth of 15 cm, while greater depths resulted in germination but no emergence (Hamal et al., 1998).

The tolerance of B. rubens to high salt and high pH conditions partially explains its success in desert soils. B. rubens is able to germinate (>50% germination) under high osmotic potential in soils treated with sodium chloride solutions (to 7.5 atmospheres; Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Under extremely alkaline conditions (in soil mixed with 50% coal ash to achieve pH 11.4-12.7), germination occurred at a rate of 15% in 24 days compared with 93% germination within 12 days in soil without ash (Vollmer et al., 1982).

Plant densities of Bromus spp. (including B. rubens) varied from 330 to 661 plants/m², with a maximum height of 102 cm and a leaf area index of 6. The net daily assimilation rate was 4 g/m² and daily growth rates varied from 3.2 to 7.7 g/m². Nitrogen content of leaves varied from 4.1 to 3.8% and the total protein content of seeds was 10.9%. The weight of 1000 kernels varied from 20 to 24 g (Hamal et al., 1998).

Reproductive Biology

B. rubens produces an average of 76 and 142 seeds per plant in natural populations and experimental mixed-stand plots, respectively (Wu and Jain, 1979). The viability of stored seeds at 10°C was 38 months. Good germination of seeds stored for up to 6 years was observed in the dark at 20, 25 and 30°C (Fenni, 1995).

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page There is little information in the literature on natural enemies of B. rubens. However, Beuve and Lapierre (1992) indicated the susceptibility of B. madritensis to Barley yellow dwarf virus RPV strain (BYDV-RPV).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page In general, propagation is by seed. Short-distance dispersal is aided by wind, which blows seeds along the ground until they settle in eddies behind shrubs or rocks or in depressions in the ground. Long-distance dispersal of B. rubens is accomplished by seeds that lodge in animal fur and in loosely woven clothing.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Positive
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Positive
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production Negative
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact

Top of page In areas with low herbaceous competition, B. rubens can be invasive and, once established, competitive with other grasses. The awns and florets are a direct threat to livestock and native fauna (Crampton, 1974). The exceptionally slow decay of this species, up to 2 years in the Nevada desert, USA, results in an abundance of dead stalks which enhance the potential for the start and spread of fires (Beatley, 1966).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Amaranthus pumilus (seabeach amaranth)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008
Enceliopsis nudicaulis var. corrugata (Ash Meadows sunray)USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCalifornia; NevadaCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011
Polioptila californica californica (coastal California gnatcatcher)USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCaliforniaEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Verbesina dissita (big-leaved crownbeard)National list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Revegetation

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page B. rubens can be confused with other species of the genus at the seedling stage, and particularly with B. madritensis at all developmental stages. B. madritensis has glabrous to slightly pubescent sheaths and stems, and the inflorescences are slightly open and oblong to ovoid. B. rubens has pubescent sheaths and stems, and the inflorescence is dense and ovoid. Stace (1991) indicates that they also differ in lemma length (9-15 mm in B. rubens compared with 12-20 mm in B. madritensis) and in the number of sterile apical florets (at least three in B. rubens, only one-two in B. madritensis).

Prevention and Control

Top of page Introduction

Control of this species is highly feasible. The short-term viability of the seeds and the low survivability in crowded sites make eradication possible. Shading and nutrient competition reduces the number of individual B. rubens plants.

Mechanical Control

Removal of weeds, especially annuals, can be accomplished by hand-pulling or hoeing (Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987). This repetitive task is time consuming, especially since seeds of B. rubens germinate from autumn through spring. One approach is to remove all B. rubens plants at one time, before the majority of flowering occurs. Plants are shallow rooted and can be easily pulled by hand or with tools (Humphrey 1977; Sopena et al., 1981).

Chemical Control

Good to moderate efficacy was obtained with sulfosulfuron under greenhouse and field conditions (Tanji, 2001). Due to the annual reproductive cycle of red brome, the most effective chemicals are pre-emergence herbicides (non-selectives). These kill the seeds in the soil before they germinate but the impacts of these herbicides on native plants may not be acceptable.

The soil-active herbicide atrazine is effective in reducing the amount of competition by annual brome species, as seen by an increased yield in range forage crops and sagebrush (Artemisia sp.) in California and Nevada, USA (Kay, 1971; Evans and Young, 1977). In the Mojave Desert, atrazine killed B. rubens, however, toxic effects were evident in the native vegetation for more than 8 years (Hunter et al., 1978). In vineyards, B. rubens is controlled by the application of terbuthylazine + terbumeton before the vines sprout (Sopena et al., 1981).

References

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Acedo C, Llamas F, 1999. The genus Bromus L. (Poaceae) in the Iberian Peninsula. Phanerogamarum Monographiae XXII. Stuttgart, Germany: J Cramer in der Gebruder Bornträger Verlagsbuchhandlung.

Ali SI, Jafri SMH, El Gadi A, 1989. Flora of Libya. Tripoli, Libya: Al Faateh University.

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Bartolome J, Stroud M, Heady H, 1980. Influence of natural mulch on forage production on differing California annual range sites. Journal of Range Management, 33(1):4-8.

Beatley JC, 1966. Ecological status of introduced brome grasses (Bromus spp.) in desert vegetation of southern Nevada. Ecology, 47(4):548-554.

Beuve M, Lapierre H, 1992. Resistance to RPV barley yellow dwarf virus in the genus Bromus. Canadian Journal of Botany, 70(1):32-37

Bouchard J, 1978. Flore Pratique de la Corse. Ed. 3. Bastia, Corsica: Société des Sciences Historiques et Naturelles de la Corse.

Burcham L, 1957. California Range Land. Sacramento, CA, USA: Department of Natural Resources, 261 pp.

CalEPPC, 1999. Exotic pest plant list. California Exotic Pest Plant Council, USA. http://www.caleppc.org/info/plantlist.html.

Crampton B, 1974. Grasses in California. Berkeley, California, USA: University of California Press.

Daubenmire R, 1978. Plant geography with special reference to North America. 1978, 352 pp.; many pl. Physiological Ecology Series; 442 ref.

Davis PH, 1988. Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands. Edinburgh, UK: University Press.

Esnault M, 1984. Etudes sur la variabilite morphologique de Bromus madritensis. Phytomorphology, 34:91-99.

Evans RA, Young JA, 1970. Plant litter and establishment of alien annual weed species in rangeland communities. Weed Science, 18:697-703.

Evans RA, Young JA, 1977. Weed control - revegation systems for big sagebrush-downy brome rangelands. Journal of Range Management, 30(5):331-336

Fenni M, 1995. Seed longevity of Bromus rubens L. and Bromus rigidus Roth. Brighton crop protection conference: weeds. Proceedings of an international conference, Brighton, UK, 20-23 November 1995., Vol. 2:775-780; 9 ref.

Fenni M, Maillet J, Shakir AN, 2001. Floristic and agronomic aspects of cereal weeds in the Constantine high plains. Mededelingen - Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent, 66(2b):797-801; 12 ref.

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Guinochet M, Vilmorin R de, 1984. Flore de France, Vols 1-5. Paris, France: Editions du CNRS.

Hamal A, Benbella M, Msatef Y, Bouhache M, Rzozi SB, 1998. Biological aspects of Bromus rigidus Roth, a weed of cereals in Morocco. Mededelingen - Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent, 63(3a):813-815.

Hamal A, Benbella M, Rzozi SB, Bouhache M, Msatef Y, 2001. Cartography and geographical spread of the weedy bromes (Bromus spp.) of cereals in the Sais area of Morocco. Mededelingen - Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent, 66(2b):761-768.

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Humphrey R, 1977. Arizona range grasses; their description, forage value, and management. Tucson, Arizona, USA: University of Arizona Press.

Hunter RA, Wallace A, Romney EM, 1978. Persistent atrazine toxicity in the Mohave desert shrub communities. Journal of Range Management, 31(3):199-203

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Johnson A, Smathers G, 1974. Fire history and ecology, Lava Beds National Monument. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference, 15:103-115.

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Pfadt RE, 1982. Density and diversity of grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) in an outbreak on Arizona rangeland. Environmental Entomology, 11(3):690-694.

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Rowland R, Turner F, 1964. Correlation of the local distributions of Dipodomys microps and D. merriami and of the annual grass Bromus rubens. The Southwestern Naturalist, 9(2):56-61.

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Sampson A, Chase A, Hedrick D, 1951. California grasslands and range forage grasses. California Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, 724:3-130.

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