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.

Related Articles


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 March 1, 2015 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 March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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