Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher Reports That Invasive Grass Destroys Soil Nitrogen, Depletes Native Desert Plants

Date:
August 10, 1999
Source:
University Of Arkansas
Summary:
University of Arkansas biology professor Raymond D. Evans and his colleagues have found that when cheatgrass invades an area, the amount of nitrogen available to plants in the soil decreases dramatically, possibly choking the life out of native desert plants.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- University of Arkansas biology professor Raymond D. Evans and his colleagues have found that when cheatgrass invades an area, the amount of nitrogen available to plants in the soil decreases dramatically, possibly choking the life out of native desert plants.

Evans will present his findings today (Aug. 10) at a symposium, "Invasive Species in the Soil: Effects on Organisms and Ecosystem Processes," at the 84th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Spokane, Wash. The innocuous looking grass was brought from Eurasia to Washington State in the 1890s, and it quickly spread through the arid areas.

"In 30 years it basically took over the West," Evans said. The grass can now be found from Washington through Nevada, Utah, Idaho and parts of many other states.

In Canyonlands National Park, where Evans and Jayne Belnap of the National Park Service have conducted soil nitrogen studies, undisturbed areas sport small clumps of native grasses with areas of black biological soil crust in between. But when cheatgrass invades an area, it grows in thick blankets, shutting out sunlight that microbiotic crusts need to fix nitrogen in the soil, Evans said. Cheatgrass dies back every year, but it adds little nitrogen back to the soil.

"It uses up all the nitrogen that other plans would normally take up," Evans said.

Large tracts of cheatgrass also use up nitrogen another way. The fields are susceptible to range fires that can spread for miles. The nitrogen tied up in plant litter literally goes up in smoke, Evans said.

The native plants have no tolerance to fire, because they have had little exposure to it in the past, Evans said.

The combination of fires, and low nitrogen content soil may drive out the native plants. But the cheatgrass seems to thrive under these conditions.

"That's what people are finding with invasions. They can't be reversed," Evans said.

The next step in Evans research will be to look at the plant's responses to the nitrogen loss, he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Arkansas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Arkansas. "Researcher Reports That Invasive Grass Destroys Soil Nitrogen, Depletes Native Desert Plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990810065215.htm>.
University Of Arkansas. (1999, August 10). Researcher Reports That Invasive Grass Destroys Soil Nitrogen, Depletes Native Desert Plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990810065215.htm
University Of Arkansas. "Researcher Reports That Invasive Grass Destroys Soil Nitrogen, Depletes Native Desert Plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990810065215.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins