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We are sort of obsessed with buffelgrass. Since its introduction to the arid regions of North and Central America from east Africa in the 1930’s, buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) has dramatically modified natural systems by reducing native plant community cover and richness, and enhancing fire cycle frequency and intensity. Buffelgrass dominance over native desert plant species is known to occur through several mechanisms. For example, buffelgrass seedlings quickly colonize bare soil and demonstrate high survival in these areas. Seedlings are tolerant of extreme drought, often surviving in climatic conditions that appear too extreme for native species. Once buffelgrass is established it can modify native neighboring vegetation through allelopathic processes, further enhancing its own invasion. The lab is involved with a ton of different studies of buffelgrass to better understand invasion processes in order to ultimately develop more effective control methods. In addition to large greenhouse studies, we have demography and greenstrip experiments at the Santa Rita Experimental Range, funded by the NSF.

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