Ecology and Management of Invasive Riparian Plants

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Due to high rates of disturbance and human activity, streamside or “riparian” areas are prone to colonization and spread of invasive plants. In the western United States, hundreds of thousands of riparian acres are occupied by the invasive shrubs/trees tamarisk and Russian olive, as well as numerous exotic herbaceous plants. Our work focuses on understanding the factors driving the distribution and abundance of invasive riparian plants, in the context of their management and restoration of riparian zones.

Extensive defoliation of tamarisk (orange/brown vegetation throughout mid-ground) along the Virgin River, Arizona, 2009.
Extensive defoliation of tamarisk (orange/brown vegetation throughout mid-ground) along the Virgin River, Arizona, 2009. Photo by Patrick Shafroth, USGS. Public domain.

 

 

Biological Invasions of Riparian Ecosystems - Principal Investigator - Patrick Shafroth

Beginning in the early twentieth century, non-native trees and shrubs, including tamarisk (also commonly known as saltcedar) and Russian-olive, were introduced to the United States for use as ornamental plants and in erosion-control plantings. These plants spread extensively, becoming the third and fourth most frequently occurring woody riparian plants in the American West.

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