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Fire as a tool for controlling Tamarix spp. seedlings

Author(s): Michelle K. Ohrtman, Sharon A. Clay, David E. Clay, Alaexander J. Smart
Year Published: 2012

Fire is often used in northern grasslands to control invasive grass species but has unknown effects on Tamarix spp., more recent invaders. Temperature (using an oven as a fire surrogate) and duration combinations that would be most lethal to Tamarix seeds and seedlings were determined. Tamarix seeds were sown in soil-lined dishes, water added to saturation, and seedlings grown for 1 to 5 d. Seeds were also placed in water-saturated or dry soil just before temperature exposure (79 to 204 C [175 to 400 F]) by duration (1 to 5 min) treatments. After treatment, soil water loss was measured by weight difference, and surviving seedlings were counted for 6 d. Tamarix seedling establishment and survival decreased with increasing temperature and duration. The 5-d-old seedlings were the most affected. No 5-d-old seedlings survived 1- and 2-min exposures to 204 C, whereas 1-d-old seedlings had greater than 25% survival. If soils were saturated, two to four times more seedlings established following seed exposure to 177 and 204 C. Longer durations at lower temperatures were required to reduce Tamarix survival. Increasing duration from 2 to 5 min at 121 C decreased 5-d-old seedling survival from more than 80% to less than 10% and eliminated those seedlings at 149 C. Five minutes at 149 C decreased dry-soil seed viability to about 15%, whereas germination on saturated soils remained high (~75%). No seeds survived the exposure to 177 and 204 C. Soil moisture loss values associated with 90% mortality of 5- and 1-d-old seedlings were 1.7 and 2.2%, respectively. On saturated soils, 90% of seeds died with 2.5% water loss. Under suitable conditions, fire can decrease Tamarix seedling survival. Fire may be useful for controlling Tamarix seedlings in northern grasslands and should be considered for management of new invasions.

Citation: Ohrtman, Michelle K.; Clay, Sharon A.; Clay, David E.; Smart, Alexander J. 2012. Fire as a tool for controlling Tamarix spp. seedlings. Invasive Plant Science and Management 5(2):139-147.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Invasive Species, Recovery after fire
Ecosystem(s): Riparian woodland/shrubland, Lower montane/foothills/valley grassland
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 13506
FRAMES RCS number: 17132
Record updated: May 24, 2018