Seasonality of Annual Plant Establishment Influences the Interactionbetween the Non-Native Annual Grass Bromus Madritensis Ssp. Rubens and Mojave Desert Perennials

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Competition between native and non-native species can change the composition and structure of plant communities, but in deserts the timing of non-native plant establishment can modulate their impacts to native species. In a field experiment, we varied densities of the non-native annual grass Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens around individuals of three native perennials--Larrea iridentata, Achnatherum hymenoides, and Pleuraphis rigida--in either winter or spring. Additional plots were prepared for the Same perennial species and seasons, but with a mixture of native annual species. Relative growth rates of perennial shoots (RGRs) declined with increasing Bromus biomass when Bromus that was established in ... continued below

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Defalco, L A.; Fernandez, G. C. & Nowak, R. S. January 1, 2004.

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Competition between native and non-native species can change the composition and structure of plant communities, but in deserts the timing of non-native plant establishment can modulate their impacts to native species. In a field experiment, we varied densities of the non-native annual grass Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens around individuals of three native perennials--Larrea iridentata, Achnatherum hymenoides, and Pleuraphis rigida--in either winter or spring. Additional plots were prepared for the Same perennial species and seasons, but with a mixture of native annual species. Relative growth rates of perennial shoots (RGRs) declined with increasing Bromus biomass when Bromus that was established in winter had 2-3 mo of growth and high water use before perennial growth began. However, this high water use did not significantly reduce water potentials for the perennials, suggesting Bromus that established earlier depleted other soil resources, such as N, otherwise used by perennial plants. Spring-established Bromus had low biomass even at higher densities and did not effectively reduce RGRs, resulting in an overall lower impact to perennials than when Bromus was established in winter. Similarly, growth and reproduction of perennials with mixed annuals as neighbors did not differ from those with Bromus neighbors of equivalent biomass, but densities of these annuals did not support the high biomass necessary to reduce perennial growth. Thus, impacts of native Mojave Desert annuals to perennials are expected to be lower than those of Bromus because seed dormancy and narrow requirements for seedling survivorship produce densities and biomass lower than those achieved by Bromus. In comparing the effects of Bromus among perennial species, the impact of increased Bromus biomass on RGR was lower for Larrea than for the two perennial grasses, probably because Lurrea maintains low growth rates throughout the year, even after Bromus has completed its life cycle. This contrasts with the perennial grasses, whose phenology overlaps completely with (Achnatherum) or closely follows (Pleuraphis) that of Bromus.

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  • Report No.: NONE
  • Grant Number: FG03-96ER62292
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 859250
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc781099

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  • January 1, 2004

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  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Jan. 8, 2018, 11:06 p.m.

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Defalco, L A.; Fernandez, G. C. & Nowak, R. S. Seasonality of Annual Plant Establishment Influences the Interactionbetween the Non-Native Annual Grass Bromus Madritensis Ssp. Rubens and Mojave Desert Perennials, article, January 1, 2004; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc781099/: accessed April 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.