|What strange beasts slither across the hidden landscapes?|
There is a war going on.
It is a war with devastating consequences and monumental importance, but one which slides below the attention of most people who otherwise care about the natural state of the world. It is a war of a scope that beggars the mind, where an entire ecosystem that has existed for millennia is rapidly being destroyed.
|Sagebrush covers a huge swath of the American West|
|Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush). From Wikipedia. |
By Peemus - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
|Intact sagebrush habitat. Wikipedia. By Famartin|
|Conversion to a sea of exotic annual grasses|
|Taeniatherum caput-medusae (medusahead grass)|
|Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) sprawls along hillside in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico|
|How one winter annual invasive achieves dominance|
It is far too late to eradicate these annual winter invasives, and efforts to reclaim land dominated by them have failed to yield fruitful results on a large scale, so land managers are now exploring various other options to mitigate their spread by focusing only on areas that have so far escaped this armageddon (Maestas et al, 2022).
We can only hope that it is not too late.
|Maturing Taeniatherum caput-medusae|
Jeremy D. Maestas, Mark Porter, Matt Cahill, Dirac Twidwell (2022). Defend the core: Maintaining intact rangelands by reducing vulnerability to invasive annual grasses, Rangelands, ISSN 0190-0528, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2021.12.008.
Smith, J.T., Allred, B.W., Boyd, C.S., Davies, K.W., Jones, M.O., Maestas, J.D., Morford, S. L., Naugle, D.E., 2021. The elevation ascent and spread of exotic annual grasslands in the Great Basin, USA. bioRxiv 2021, 425458