Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/21/2006
Publication Date: 2/14/2006
Citation: James, J.J., Caird, M.A., Drenovsky, R.E., Sheley, R.L. 2006. Influence of resource pulses and perennial neighbors on the establishment of an invasive annual grass in the mojave desert. Journal of Arid Environments. 67:528-534. Interpretive Summary: Invasion by exotic annual grasses is one of the most significant threats to arid ecosystems in the western USA. We examined how temporal variation in soil water and nitrogen influences establishment of the invasive annual grass Schismus arabicus. The effect of resource pulses on Schismus establishment was highly dependent on the seasonal timing of the water and nitrogen inputs, with Schismus establishment decreasing when resource inputs coincided with high rates of growth of the native vegetation. These results indicate invasion by annual grasses into arid systems can be influenced by seasonal fluctuations in soil resources.
Technical Abstract: Invasion by exotic annual grasses is one of the most significant threats to arid ecosystems in the western USA. Current theories of invasibility predict plant communities become more susceptible to invasion whenever there is an increase in the amount of unused resources. The objective of this field study was to examine how resource pulses and temporal variation in resource demand by the native shrub vegetation influences establishment of the invasive annual grass Schismus arabicus. Water and nitrogen were applied as pulses in early spring, mid-spring, or continuously throughout the growing season to plots containing either Atriplex confertifolia or A. parryi shrubs. The effect of resource pulses on Schismus density and biomass was highly dependent on the seasonal timing of the resource pulses and the identity of the neighbor shrub. When resource pulses coincided with high rates of resource capture and growth of the native vegetation, density and biomass of Schismus was reduced. Schismus establishment was greater under continuous resource supply compared to pulsed resource supply, likely because more soil resources were available at a shallow depth when resources were supplied at a continuous low rate. These results suggest that the establishment of invasive annual grasses in arid systems can be influenced by the magnitude and spatial distribution of resource pulses in addition to the seasonal timing of resource pulses.