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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RANGELAND RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Non-native competitive perennial grass impedes the spread of an invasive annual grass

Authors
item Davies, Kirk
item Nafus, Aleta
item Sheley, Roger

Submitted to: Biological Invasions
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2010
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/46029
Citation: Davies, K.W., Nafus, A., Sheley, R.L. 2010. Non-native competitive perennial grass impedes the spread of an invasive annual grass. Biological Invasions. 12:3187-3194.

Interpretive Summary: Weeds are degrading wildlands around the globe and the current approach of applying herbicides has not been effective at curtailing their expansion. Thus, preventing the spread of weeds has been identified as an important strategy to protect wildlands. However, few prevention strategies have actually been tested. To evaluate the potential for competitive vegetation to limit the spread of weedy species, we established twelve competitive vegetation (desert wheatgrass) barriers in front of exotic, annual grass (medusahead) infestations. Less medusahead and lower soil nutrient concentrations in the competitive vegetation barrier than control treatment suggests that establishing competitive vegetation can increas the resistance of the plant communities to invasion. Medusahead cover and density were approximately 42 and 47-fold less, respectively, in the plant communities protected by the competitive vegetation barrier (locales across the barriers from the infestations) than unprotected plant communities. The establishment of competitive vegetation around infestations may be an effective strategy to prevent or at least reduce the spread of weeds.

Technical Abstract: Invasive plants are degrading wildlands around the globe by displacing native species, reducing biodiversity, and altering ecological functions. The current approach of applying herbicides to invasive plants in wildlands has not been effective at curtailing their expansion and, in certain circumstances, may do more harm than good. Preventing the spread of invasive species has been identified as an important strategy to protect wildlands. However, few prevention strategies have actually been tested. To evaluate the potential for competitive vegetation to limit the spread of invasive plant species, we established twelve competitive vegetation barriers in front of invasive annual grass, medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae (L.) Nevski), infestations. Desert wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Schult.) was seeded into plant communities adjacent to the infestations to create the competitive vegetation barriers. Soil nutrient concentrations and the spread of medusahead were compared between where desert wheatgrass was seeded and not seeded (control treatment) three years after treatment. Less medusahead and lower soil ammonium and potassium concentrations in the competitive vegetation barrier than control treatment (P = 0.01) suggest that establishing competitive vegetation increased the biotic resistance of the plant communities to invasion. Medusahead cover and density in the plant communities protected by the competitive vegetation barrier (locales across the barriers from the infestations) were approximately 42 and 47-fold less, respectively, than unprotected plant communities (P < 0.01). This suggests that invasive plant propagule pressure was decreased in the plant communities protected by competitive vegetation barriers. The establishment of competitive vegetation around infestations may be an effective strategy to prevent or at least reduce the spread of invasive plant species.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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