The 2008 Joint Meeting of the Society for Range Management and the America Forage and Grassland Council.

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 2:00 PM

Use of Winterfat in Restoration of High Desert Ecosystems: Factors affecting Seed Viability

Ryan Leary and Tamzen Stringham. Rangeland Ecology and Managment, Oregon State University, Strand Agricultural Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331

Winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata (Pursh) A.D.J. Meeuse & Smit), a native

shrub, is recognized as a valuable winter forage  species with crude protein levels
between 10 and 22 percent. However, in parts of the Great Basin, it has been
observed that winterfat dominated communities are declining in
productivity and recruitment of new individuals. In order to determine
if winter livestock use was the mechanism responsible for the lack of
recruitment 40m x 40m exclosures were established in winterfat
dominated areas in southeast Oregon in 2001.  We tested the hypothesis
that 5 years rest from grazing by cattle, antelope and rabbits would
increase the amount of viable Winterfat seed and annual  growth
aboveground biomass. The hypothesis was not supported (p-values  of
0.5223 and  0.8601) by the data obtained from 16 plot groups of open
plots and exclosures. What was significant (p-values of  0.0200 and
<.0001) in  explaining seed viability and annual growth biomass were
the  differences between the locations of the groups of plots. Moisture
in clipped plants was one parameter that was measured at each plot and
it explained the amount of annual growth. However moisture did not
explain seed viability. There is an additional factor related to the
location of the plot groups, perhaps soil, that explains why winterfat
plants in some plot groups have higher seed viability than others.