Increased livestock densities near artificial watering sites create disturbance gradients called piospheres. We studied responses of alien and native annual plants and native perennial plants within 9 piospheres in the Mojave Desert of North America. Absolute and proportional cover of alien annual plants increased with proximity to watering sites, whereas cover and species richness of native annual plants decreased. Not all alien species responded the same, as the alien forb Erodium cicutarium and the alien grass Schismus spp. increased with proximity to watering sites, and the alien annual grass Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens decreased. Perennial plant cover and species richness also declined with proximity to watering sites, as did the structural diversity of perennial plant cover classes. Significant effects were focused within 200 m of the watering sites, suggesting that control efforts for alien annual plants and restoration efforts for native plants should optimally be focused within this central part of the piosphere gradient.