Dry Meadows

Cinnamon teals use dry meadows for nesting habitat

Dry meadows provide important nesting habitat for a variety of ground nesting birds including cinnamon teal, bobolink, gadwall and mallards. 

Dry meadows are influenced by water depths and the timing of irrigation through the availability of subirrigation. Standing water is typically not found within these plant communities. The largest areas of dry meadow habitats are located in the northern Double-O and scattered throughout the Blitzen Valley where gradual shifts in elevation facilitate the presence of this habitat type, which lies between wet meadows and sagebrush lowland/salt desert scrub. The Blitzen Valley and Double-O currently supports approximately 4,500 to 5,500 acres of dry meadow habitats. Dry meadow habitats are typically subirrigated, but may be temporarily inundated during flood events. Shallow depth to water table makes these areas largely uninhabitable by woody upland vegetation, such as basin big sagebrush and greasewood. Sites are typically dominated by creeping wildrye, Nevada bluegrass, bluejoint, or saltgrass. Other native species include western yarrow, slender cinquefoil, and lanceleaf goldenweed.

The primary importance of dry meadows is to provide nesting cover for ground nesting birds such as cinnamon teal, bobolink, gadwall, and mallard. These communities are also significant for the western meadowlark, a species that uses this habitat type for breeding and foraging.

Active management within dry meadows consists mainly of weed control and the stimulation of nesting cover via occasional disturbance (prescribed fire, haying, rake-bunch grazing). Water management of adjacent habitats does influence these plant communities by raising or lowering the prevailing water table.

Depth to water table is a driving factor influencing the presence of dry meadow communities. Water management within wet meadows and emergent marshes impact outlying water tables, and these impacts cause this habitat type to either expand or contract. In areas near prevailing ecotones between dry meadows and sagebrush lowland/salt desert scrub habitats, upland shrub invasion has occurred. This habitat is highly susceptible to invasion by perennial pepperweed. 

The largest threat to the biological integrity of dry meadows is invasive plants (either upland shrubs or noxious weeds). Fire suppression over the last century has favored the expansion of shrub communities into this habitat, and the prolific availability of weed seed throughout the Refuge proves difficult to manage