Consequences include loss of native species, greater wildfire risks
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The warmer and drier conditions predicted across the West by most climate change models will help invasive grasses replace native vegetation. The exotics are better equipped to deal with warmer weather. Some of them harbor animals that attack endangered species, while others make lands more susceptible to wildfires.
Two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, catalogued the ranges of all 258 native grasses and 177 exotic grasses in the state and estimated how climate change – in particular, increased temperature and decreased rainfall – would change them. They concluded that many of the traits that now make exotic grasses more successful than many natives also would allow them to adapt better to increased temperature and likely expand their ranges.
“When we looked at current patterns, we found that warmer temperatures favor certain traits, and these are the traits possessed by exotic species,” said coauthor Emily Dangremond, a graduate student in the UC Berkeley Department of Integrative Biology. “This led us to predict that, if the mean temperature increases in all zones in California, there is an increased likelihood of finding exotic species, and an increase in the proportion of species in a zone that are exotic.” Continue reading “Global warming: Invasive grasses to thrive in warmer world”→
Invasive plants eating away at valuable native habitat
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not too late to put on your gardening gloves and join with band of volunteers to try and slow the spread of invasive plants that’s harming native habitat in Colorado.
This Saturday (July 9), hundreds of Coloradans will join forces for the annual Pulling for Colorado event, including here in Summit County, where volunteers will meet at the Community and Senior Center at 8 a.m. to learn about noxious weeds and then head out on a search and destroy mission. For more information contact John Taylor at 970-409-8867.
“Noxious weeds threaten our quality of life; they impact agriculture, water quality, recreational opportunities, and wildlife,” said Colorado State Weed Coordinator Steve Ryder. “We are working hard to eradicate, control, and minimize weed infestations across Colorado.”
Noxious weeds have invaded over one million acres of Colorado land and continue to spread across western federal lands at a rate of 4,600 acres every day. This infestation of weeds is costing Colorado landowners roughly $100 million a year. If left untreated, some noxious weeds can lead to an increased number of human health risks and fires. Continue reading “Environment: Pull some weeds this weekend!”→
Impacts to endangered birds at issue; latest studies show the non-native plants don’t use as much water as previously believed
SUMMIT COUNTY — Land managers looking for ways to control invasive tamarisk trees in the Colorado River Basin may have to search for a new tool.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has terminated the use of a non-native insect used to destroy tamarisk after concluding that the bug was destroying critical habitat used by the southwestern willow flycatcher, listed as endangered by the federal government. The decision, announced in a June 15 memo, affects biological control efforts in 13 states.
Tamarisk, also called saltcellar, is native to the Mediterranean and central Asian region. It was brought to the U.S. to be used as a windbreak and for ornamental purposes. It quickly spread across at least 1.5 million acres in the arid climate and alkaline soils of the Southwest. In an ironic twist, the endangered flycatcher has taken to nesting in tamarisk.