Saltcedar and Russian olive interactions with wildlife: Chapter 4

By:  and 



Riparian areas of flood plains typically provide a mosaic of productive habitats (Stanford and others, 2005; Latterell and others, 2006) capable of supporting many wildlife species, particularly in the arid and semiarid Western United States. The establishment of nonnative invasive plants can alter riparian habitat by inhibiting native plant recruitment and by increasing the risk of wildfire (Howe and Knopf, 1991; Busch and Smith, 1995). However, the effects of nonnative plants are not necessarily always negative. Many wildlife species will use the exotic plants to some extent, especially when mixed with native vegetation (van Riper and others, 2008), but overall, species of wildlife exhibit a negative or neutral response to exotic habitat. In many areas of the Western United States where riparian systems have been degraded via anthropogenic activities (for example, flood control or groundwater pumping), native vegetation may have difficulty persisting and nonnative vegetation may provide the only available habitat for some species of wildlife (Katz and Shafroth, 2003; Stromberg and others, 2007). Therefore, where possible, the ultimate goal of ecological restoration activities should be the reestablishment of native riparian plant communities and a return to more natural hydrological regimes.

Nonnative saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) are the second and fifth most abundant plants in riparian areas in the Western United States (see chap. 2, this volume; Friedman and others, 2005). Methods for controlling nonnative vegetation can alter riparian areas, often in unpredictable ways, and have the potential to impact a variety of habitat types used by wildlife (Bateman, Chung-MacCoubrey, Finch, and others, 2008). Therefore, understanding how wildlife utilize saltcedar and Russian olive and the effects of control activities on wildlife are important for resource managers who must balance management decisions such as nonnative plant control with protecting critical wildlife habitat.

In this chapter, we present a synthesis of published literature on the use of saltcedar and Russian olive by wildlife and discuss how wildlife respond or are likely to respond to control measures for saltcedar and Russian olive and subsequent restoration efforts. We discuss responses of several groups of wildlife, including arthropods, birds, mammals, herpetofauna, and fish.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Saltcedar and Russian olive interactions with wildlife: Chapter 4
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act Science Assessment (Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5247)
First page 49
Last page 63
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details