What Weeds Do
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What Weeds Do

Invasive weeds are unwanted intruders on Great Basin rangelands. These weeds use unique establishment and survival strategies to gain widespread dominance in many plant communities. Some species, like cheatgrass, halogeton, and Russian thistle have prolific seed production. Image showing cheatgrass invasion in the Great BasinOther species such as bull thistle and Russian knapweed accumulate compounds that may reduce competition from other plants growing nearby. All invasive weeds come from areas around the globe with climates similar to the Great Basin, but they arrived without their natural enemies.

Their weedy influence has had significant impacts on native plants, wildlife, and humans. Of particular concern is the change to more frequent fires that annual grasses like cheatgrass and medusahead rye have caused. This change, as well as others, has led to cascading effects that are changing some areas of the Great Basin forever.