Environmental Management

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 231-246

First online:

Control of Tamarix in the Western United States: Implications for Water Salvage, Wildlife Use, and Riparian Restoration

  • Patrick B. ShafrothAffiliated withFort Collins Science Center, US Geological Survey Email author 
  • , James R. CleverlyAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of New Mexico
  • , Tom L. DudleyAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resource and Environmental Science, University of Nevada
  • , John P. TaylorAffiliated withBosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • , Charles VAN RiperIIIAffiliated withSouthwest Biological Science Center, US Geological Survey
  • , Edwin P. WeeksAffiliated withNational Research Program, US Geological Survey
  • , James N. StuartAffiliated withConservation Services Division New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, James N. Stuart

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Non-native shrub species in the genus Tamarix (saltcedar, tamarisk) have colonized hundreds of thousands of hectares of floodplains, reservoir margins, and other wetlands in western North America. Many resource managers seek to reduce saltcedar abundance and control its spread to increase the flow of water in streams that might otherwise be lost to evapotranspiration, to restore native riparian (streamside) vegetation, and to improve wildlife habitat. However, increased water yield might not always occur and has been substantially lower than expected in water salvage experiments, the potential for successful revegetation is variable, and not all wildlife taxa clearly prefer native plant habitats over saltcedar. As a result, there is considerable debate surrounding saltcedar control efforts. We review the literature on saltcedar control, water use, wildlife use, and riparian restoration to provide resource managers, researchers, and policy-makers with a balanced summary of the state of the science. To best ensure that the desired outcomes of removal programs are met, scientists and resource managers should use existing information and methodologies to carefully select and prioritize sites for removal, apply the most appropriate and cost-effective control methods, and then rigorously monitor control efficacy, revegetation success, water yield changes, and wildlife use.


Tamarix Saltcedar Tamarisk Evapotranspiration Water salvage Wildlife use Riparian restoration Revegetation Invasive species Exotic species Control