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Invasion resistance and persistence: established plants win, even with disturbance and high propagule pressure


McGlone, Christopher M.; Sieg, Carolyn Hull; Kolb, Thomas E. 2010. Invasion resistance and persistence: established plants win, even with disturbance and high propagule pressure. Biological Invasions. doi 10.1007/s10530-010-9806-8.

Disturbances and propagule pressure are key mechanisms in plant community resistance to invasion, as well as persistence of invasions. Few studies, however, have experimentally tested the interaction of these two mechanisms. We initiated a study in a southwestern ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.)/bunch grass system to determine the susceptibility of remnant native plant communities to cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) invasion, and persistence of cheatgrass in invaded areas. We used a 2 x 2 factorial design consisting of two levels of aboveground biomass removal and two levels of reciprocal seeding. We seeded cheatgrass seeds in native plots and a native seed mixture in cheatgrass plots. Two biomass removal disturbances and sowing seeds over 3 years did not reverse cheatgrass dominance in invaded plots or native grass dominance in non-invaded native plots. Our results suggest that two factors dictated the persistence of the resident communities. First, bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey) was the dominant native herbaceous species on the study site. This species is typically a poor competitor with cheatgrass as a seedling, but is a strong competitor when mature. Second, differences in pretreatment levels of plantavailable soil nitrogen and phosphorus may have favored the dominant species in each community. Annual species typically require higher levels of plant-available soil nutrients than perennial plants. This trend was observed in the annual cheatgrass community and perennial native community. Our study shows that established plants and soil properties can buffer the influences of disturbance and elevated propagule pressure on cheatgrass invasion.

Keywords: Arizona, Bromus tectorum, disturbance, Elymus elymoides, nitrogen, phosphorus, propagule pressure


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Invasion resistance and persistence: established plants win, even with disturbance and high propagule pressure
Electronic Publish Date: November 8, 2010
Last Update:
November 8, 2010

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