Concern about spread of non-native riparian trees in the western USA has led to Congressional proposals to accelerate control efforts. Debate over these proposals is frustrated by limited knowledge of non-native species distribution and abundance. We measured abundance of 44 riparian woody plants at 475 randomly selected stream gaging stations in 17 western states. Our sample indicates that Tamarix ramosissima and Elaeagnus angustifolia are already the third and fourth most frequently occurring woody riparian plants in the region. Although many species of Tamarix have been reported in the region, T. ramosissima (here including T. chinensis and hybrids) is by far the most abundant. The frequency of occurrence of T. ramosissima has a strong positive relation with the mean annual minimum temperature, which is consistent with hypothesized frost sensitivity. In contrast the frequency of occurrence of E. angustifolia decreases with increasing minimum temperatures. Based on mean normalized cover, T. ramosissima and E. angustifolia are the second and fifth most dominant woody riparian species in the western USA. The dominance of T. ramosissima has been suspected for decades; the regional ascendance of E. angustifolia, however, has not previously been reported.
dominance Elaeagnus angustifoliafrequency non-native species riparian trees Tamarix ramosissima