The antelope-brush ecosystem is one of Canada’s rarest and most endangered habitats. Less than 9% of this unique ecosystem remains relatively undisturbed and of the 5000 hectares that remain, only a small portion lies within protected areas. Osoyoos Desert Centre stewards 67 acres of antelope-brush habitat, where invasive weeds are removed and native grasses, flowers and shrubs replanted.
Invasive Plant Control
In British Columbia, invasive plants pose a serious threat to many native species. Without the insect predators and plant pathogens found in their native habitats, these noxious weeds are able to spread rapidly and out-compete native plants, alter native plant communities, impact water quality and destroy valuable habitat for wildlife. Ongoing work is being done to restore our antelope-brush habitat by removing invasive species like knapweed, houndstongue, Russian thistle and puncturevine.
Bio-control agents have been released at the Osoyoos Desert Centre to manage some invasive plants. The weevil Mecinus janthinus has been used to help control the highly invasive dalmation toadflax. The larval stage of this weevil feeds on the centre of the plant’s shoot, which damages the growth tissues of the toadflax.
Crested Wheatgrass Control
Ongoing research is being conducted to help determine which species are best at filling the gaps left by weeding out invasive bunchgrasses like crested wheatgrass, a non-native species that was seeded at the Osoyoos Desert Centre site as cattle forage prior to our lease. Plots measuring two by three metres are weeded of crested wheatgrass and other non-native plants then replanted with a different native species in each plot.