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Annotated bibliography of scientific research on Taeniatherum caput-medusae published from January 2010 to January 2022

February 12, 2024

Integrating recent scientific knowledge into management decisions supports effective natural resource management and can lead to better resource outcomes. However, finding and accessing scientific knowledge can be time consuming and costly. To assist in this process, the U.S. Geological Survey is creating a series of annotated bibliographies on topics of management concern for western lands. Previously published reports introduced a methodology for preparing annotated bibliographies to facilitate the integration of recent, peer-reviewed science into resource management decisions. Therefore, relevant text from those efforts is reproduced here to frame the presentation. Invasive annual grasses are widely distributed throughout the western United States and threaten native ecosystems by altering fire regimes, replacing native plants, and altering grazing patterns, often with tremendous associated costs. One invasive annual grass, Taeniatherum caput-medusae (hereafter, medusahead), was first documented in the United States in 1887 and has been identified as a species of management concern. Medusahead’s life history traits allow it to quickly and effectively dominate native plant communities, and it has already taken over millions of acres in western North America. Although medusahead can spread widely and disrupt ecosystem function, it has been studied less than other western invasive grass species. We compiled and summarized peer-reviewed journal articles, data products, and formal technical reports (such as U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service General Technical Reports and U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Reports) on medusahead, published between January 2010 and January 2022. We first performed a systematic search of three reference databases and three government databases using the search phrase “medusahead” OR “medusa head” OR “Taeniatherum caput-medusae” OR “Taeniatherum caputmedusae” OR “Taeniatherum asperum.” We refined the initial list of products by removing (1) duplicates, (2) products not written in English, (3) publications that were not focused on North America, (4) publications that were not published as research, data products, or scientific review articles in peer-reviewed journals or as formal technical reports, and (5) products for which medusahead was not a research focus, or the study did not present new data or findings about medusahead. We summarized each product using a consistent structure (background, objectives, methods, location, findings, and implications) and identified the management topics (for example, species and population characteristics; habitat; and control and management efforts) addressed by each product. We also noted which publications included new geospatial data. The review process for this annotated bibliography included an initial internal colleague review of each summary, requesting input on each summary from an author of the original publication, and a formal peer review. Our initial searches resulted in 4,245 total products, of which 211 met our criteria for inclusion. The most commonly addressed management topics addressed in products summarized in the annotated bibliography were as follows: nonnative invasive plants, weed management, site-scale habitat characteristics, habitat restoration or reclamation, and cultural management of weeds. All published bibliographies, including the online version of this bibliography, are available at the Science for Resource Managers ( This database is searchable by topic, location, and year and includes links to each original publication. The studies compiled and summarized here may inform planning and management actions that seek to maintain and restore sagebrush landscapes and associated native species across the western United States.

Publication Year 2024
Title Annotated bibliography of scientific research on Taeniatherum caput-medusae published from January 2010 to January 2022
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231089
Authors Jennifer K. Meineke, Logan M. Maxwell, Alison C. Foster, Laine E. McCall, Tait K. Rutherford, Ella M. Samuel, Lea B. Selby, Joshua S Willems, Nathan J. Kleist, Samuel E. Jordan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2023-1089
Index ID ofr20231089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center