Sustainability (Dec 2012)

Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) Removal in the Western United States: Multi-Site Findings and Considerations for Future Research

  • Margaret Gaddis,
  • Anna Sher

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 12
pp. 3346 – 3361


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Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olive) is an introduced tree that has become one of the dominant species in many watersheds in the American West. Although it is a target of restoration efforts, very little is known about vegetation response after removal of this exotic species. To address this gap we surveyed 25 sites in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana where E. angustifolia was removed. We collected information regarding plant cover and richness, climate, soil characteristics, management history, and geography. We analyzed these data using regression tree modeling. Our results indicate that moisture and temperature are key environmental factors relating to restoration success as measured by abundance of native cover; lower temperatures and greater availability of water were generally associated with more native cover. These results have important implications for selection of restoration sites, and for understanding the consequences of removing this species.