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University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Invasive exotic species can have a significant impact on the structure, function, and diversity of ecological communities. Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) is one of the top exotic invasive species spreading through the southwestern deserts of North America. In arid environments, it is well documented that species abundance is sensitive to rainfall (Beatly 1974, Ernest et al. 2000). In the Mojave Desert, winter precipitation can trigger massive germination events (Beatly 1974). As a winter annual, Sahara mustard may have a positive response to winter precipitation by germinating, growing, and reproducing before native annuals, monopolizing soil moisture and nutrients, and potentially changing native plant community structure and ecosystem processes.

To better understand Sahara mustard’s ecology in Mojave Desert habitats, we conducted a field experiment to document the effects of water additions and soil disturbance on Sahara mustard density and native plant assemblage. In addition, we performed a soil seed bank study to compare above ground plant community and soil seed bank composition of study sites. Our experimental treatments were designed to provide favorable conditions for seedling emergence; therefore, we expected to record a greater emergence number in treated than control plots.


Brassica; Brassica tournefortii; Desert ecology; Germination; Invasive plants; Sahara mustard; Southwest; New


Desert Ecology | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Monitoring | Plant Sciences | Soil Science | Weed Science