Tamarisk is an invasive shrub or small tree that is found across the American West. Also known as saltcedar, tamarisk favors sites that are inhospitable to native streamside plants because of high salinity, low water availability, and altered streamflow regimes created by dams. Researchers debate the extent of tamarisk’s negative impacts, but this invasive species can and does alter habitat quality for some wildlife, water use by floodplain vegetation, and the frequency and intensity of wildfires.
One successful tamarisk control method is the introduction of a leaf-eating beetle from the tamarisk’s native range in Asia. Where tamarisks are declining, USGS scientists are studying how ecosystems respond to the removal of this invasive species.