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Post-fire native species seed mixes are effective at keeping out cheatgrass in the Great Basin

Editor(s): Nehalem C. Clark
Year Published: 2020

Seeding an area after a fire has long been used to control erosion and suppress problem invasive grasses like cheatgrass. But for managers, choosing the right seed mix to use can be tricky. Seed mixes containing only native species are ideal for areas where natural vegetation recovery is a long-term objective, but there is a question of both cost and whether native species will be as effective as nonnatives in outcompeting invasive species. In the Great Basin, introduced forage species such as crested wheatgrass have been widely used for post-fire rehabilitation seedings, but negative long-term effects of these nonnatives on ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat have been documented. Native species such as bluebunch wheatgrass, western wheatgrass, and big sagebrush are now playing a bigger role in reseeding projects. Studies comparing the use of native seed mixes versus conventional mixes containing nonnatives have been limited and usually short term, providing little insight for managers into how their decision will affect the site a decade or more down the road.

Citation: Clark, Nehalem. 2020. Post-fire native species seed mixes are effective at keeping out cheatgrass in the Great Basin. Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes). Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 2 p.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Invasive Species, Annual Invasive, Post-fire Management, Post-fire Rehabilitation, Seeding
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Research Brief or Fact Sheet
NRFSN number: 21016
FRAMES RCS number: 61002
Record updated: Apr 13, 2020