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Landscape Disturbances Impact Affect the Distribution and Abundance of Exotic Grasses in Northern Fescue Prairies

  • Marlene Gifford (a1) and Rafael Otfinowski (a2)

The presence of landscape disturbances increases the establishment of exotic plants inside natural areas. Here, we examine the effect of human disturbances to prairie landscapes on the distribution and abundance of Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome, exotic grasses that threaten the integrity of prairie ecosystems throughout the northern Great Plains. Using plant inventory data from Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, Canada, we investigated how roads, trails, and the intensity of historic livestock grazing affect the distribution and abundance of exotic grasses. On the basis of our results, both Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome were more abundant in areas closer to roads. Kentucky bluegrass was also more abundant in areas farther from trails and those historically grazed by cattle. Our research demonstrates that the effect of landscape disturbances on exotic grasses varies between species and suggests that patterns of invasion may reflect different introduction histories. Given our findings, conserving the integrity of northern fescue prairies should account for human disturbances of landscapes and their effects on the proliferation of exotic plants into areas of native prairie.

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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
  • URL: /core/journals/invasive-plant-science-and-management
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