Beargrass is an ecologically, culturally, and economically important plant in the Western United States and, for the first time, landowners, managers, and harvesters now have a comprehensive report about the species.
The report, Natural and Cultural History of Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax), published by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, identifies critical knowledge gaps and areas for future research. It also documents how changes in disturbance, including fire, may affect the species across its range.
"Beargrass is emblematic of a web of natural and cultural diversity in the West," said Susan Stevens Hummel, a research forester at the station and lead author of the report. "This means that organisms and processes—like people, plants, and pollinators—are interrelated."
Beargrass is a member of the lily family that, when in bloom, produces a single stalk capped with clusters of white flowers. It grows in a wide variety of habitat types and conditions, but in just two geographic areas—from the mountains of northwestern Washington south into west-central California, and from Canada south into Wyoming along the Rocky Mountains.
The plant provides food, habitat, and raw material for an array of wildlife species—from bees and flies, to rodents, bears, deer, and elk. Beargrass has longstanding cultural value and is harvested by Native Americans for use in basketry and regalia, and for medicinal and decorative purposes. It also is coveted by the commercial floral greens industry, which generates more than $200 million a year in the Pacific Northwest.
Hummel, together with her coauthors at the Xerces Society and the station, found that historical and contemporary land use practices in beargrass habitat, combined with the rise of the commercial floral greens industry, are creating shifts in disturbances within beargrass habitat.
"We found that beargrass is experiencing decreased disturbance from natural and human-caused fire, but increased disturbance from leaf harvest by the floral industry," Hummel said. "Our report looks at each of these different disturbance types and their potential effects on beargrass, its pollinators, and on human gatherers."
Among the report's findings:
- Disturbance effects on pollinators and on beargrass reproduction and abundance are not well understood;
- Traditional and commercial harvesters seek different leaf properties and use different methods to harvest beargrass;
- No coordinated effort exists among landowners to monitor the volume of beargrass being harvested each year.
"This report clarifies for land managers the importance of beargrass and offers researchers a list of knowledge gaps about the plant," Hummel said. "By addressing some of the key issues identified in the report, forest management practices can be developed to help sustain the ecological web of which beargrass is a part."
Natural and Cultural History of Beargrass is available online at http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/42172 and in print by request. Printed copies of the report can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (503) 261-1211 and referencing "PNW-GTR-864."
The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and about 400 employees.
Yasmeen Sands | EurekAlert!
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University
Different eras of civilization are defined by the discovery of new materials, as new materials drive new capabilities. And yet, identifying the best material...
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Life Sciences