05 Tamarisk ecology and effects

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Information about 05 Tamarisk ecology and effects

Published on July 2, 2008

Author: mwarner1968



Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) : Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) A member of the Tamaricaceae family Several species; Tamarix ramosissima in our area Common names: tamarisk or saltcedar Introduced from Eurasia Sold in 1850’s for erosion control on stream banks, also brought in for wind breaks and as ornamentals 1877: Started to appear in herbarium collections Started to attract attention in 1920s Affects ~1 million acres in U.S. southwest Biology/ecology : Biology/ecology Found from 0-2100 m (6888 ft) “Facultative phreatophyte”: can draw water from underground resources but once established it can survive without access to groundwater. Ground water 1.5-6 m below soil surface: forms dense thickets, Groundwater > 6 m: forms open shrublands. Reproduction: Flowers insect pollinated, wind dispersed seeds Adult trees can produce 250 million seeds per year! Seeds can germinate within 24 hrs after contact with water No seed dormancy requirements, no seed bank Biology/ecology : Biology/ecology Can produce roots from buried or submerged stem fragments (“vegetative reproduction”) “Halophyte”: High tolerance for alkaline or saline soils Especially higher than natives 36,000 ppm vs. 1500 ppm Has salt glands in leaves Salts 5-15% of dry weight of leaves Tamarisk seedlings grow more slowly than native riparian plants. Mature plants are susceptible to shading. Why is it so successful? : Why is it so successful? Good competitor: highly fecund, long lived, tolerant of flooding, drought, and nutrient stress Alteration of natural flow in rivers due to dams Cottonwoods and willows need spring floods for their seeds to germinate Tamarisk has not become established in rivers that experience large floods and where spring flooding predominates Increased salinity of rivers Irrigation return and evaporation from reservoirs Resprouts after flooding and fire How does Tamarix change the functioning of riparian zones? : How does Tamarix change the functioning of riparian zones? Replaces native vegetation Consumes a lot of water 35% more rapidly than native vegetation, denser stands Reaches deeper into groundwater farther from river channel Increases soil salinity Takes up salt from soil and then deposits it above ground from salt glands in leaves or from shedding leaves (salt conc in leaves 5-15%) Traps sediments  sedimentation Colonizes the islands that it creates Leads to more narrow, more shallow river channels, increasing risk of overbank floods Increases fire frequency Heavier fuel loads, more flammable leaves, sprouts back after fire Poor habitat for native species Lower bird density and diversity

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