Invasive Species In The Mojave Desert

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Invasive species in wetlands of the Mojave Desert negatively affect all aspects of the ecosystem. Invasive species are overtaking most of the wetlands in the Mojave Desert. Wetland areas in the desert are rare and very important sites for desert wildlife and migrating birds. Some of the main species that are invading wetland areas are Salt Cedar (Tamarisk spp.), Russian Knapweed (Acroptilon repens), Pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium), Fivehook Bassia (Bassia hyssopifolia) and Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Invasive plants tend to thrive in wetland environments because of the excess of energy, a higher water table and more fertile soil. When an exotic species invades an area, it takes space, water, nutrients and pollination chances away from the …show more content…
Salt Cedar comes in two main subspecies; ramosissima and chinensis but there are also many forms of hybridized individuals. Tamarisk is a type of dense, shrubby tree that produces tiny pink flowers. Tamarisk trees have taken over 1.5 million acres of wetlands in the western United States (Whitecraft, Talley, Crooks, Boland & Gaskin 2007). They can thrive in a range of soil conditions and tolerate very saline soils. The tree’s tap root will stretch down far enough to tap into the water table, where native plant’s roots cannot reach (Longcore, Rich, & Müller-Schwarze. 2007). Large groves of tamarisk trees can completely drain a wetland system. Tamarisk seeds were brought to the United States from Asia by settlers to provide wind breaks for their crops and water holding ponds. You will frequently see tamarisk planted in a square pattern around old water holding ponds in the Mojave. One mature tree can produce 600,000 seeds in a growing season. The tiny, light seeds are easily dispersed by wind, water or becoming stuck to an animal’s fur. Tamarisk trees are known for displacing native willows and cottonwoods that naturally thrive in wetland …show more content…
Lepidium is known by a few common names; Pepperweed, Whitetop or Pepperwort. Lepidium produces small, white flowers that are arranged in a corymb shape. The plants start to bloom during the first warm times of spring until the end of summer. This species is very hard to kill because it can spread via rhizomes, not just by seeds. Once the Lepidium becomes established in a riparian area, it can spread into the highlands easier because it is able to grow root sprouts. The rhizomes that Lepidium has allow it to spread into areas that a seedling could not survive (Tobias, Block & Laca. 2016). Lepidium also has a tendency to follow the waterways that drain into the wetlands and create colonies along urban drainage ditches. Individuals can grow several feet high, which causes them to overshadow the smaller native plants and eventually kill them. Lepidium came to the United States from Europe mixed up in sugar beet

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