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Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) Outperforms Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) through Interference and Growth Rate

  • K. Young (a1) and J. Mangold (a2)
Abstract

Understanding the ecological processes that foster invasion and dominance by medusahead is central to its management. The objectives of this study were (1) to quantify and compare interference between medusahead and squirreltail under different concentrations of soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) and (2) to compare growth rates of medusahead and squirreltail under field soil N and P availabilities. We grew medusahead and squirreltail in an addition series in a greenhouse and applied one of four nutrient treatments weekly: (1) low N low P (no N or P added), (2) low N high P (added 250 ml of 600 µM P solution in the form of calcium phosphate), (3) high N low P (added 250 ml of 8,400 µM N solution in the forms of calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate), and (4) high N high P (added solutions as listed above for high N and high P). After 70 d density and biomass by species were sampled. We also grew individual medusahead and squirreltail plants in control soil conditions. Biomass, leaf area, and root length were determined for each species at 14-d intervals over 72 d. Regression models for medusahead and squirreltail suggested N appeared to be playing a much larger role than P in interference between the species. The high N treatment did not increase medusahead's interference ability relative to squirreltail as we had hypothesized. Medusahead typically imposed a two-to-seven-times stronger influence on interference relationships than squirreltail. Medusahead accumulated biomass, leaf area, and root length twice as fast as squirreltail. Results from our study suggest that medusahead seedlings will likely dominate over squirreltail seedlings. To restore squirreltail to medusahead-infested rangeland, medusahead densities should be reduced with integrated weed management strategies. On medusahead-free rangeland, prevention and early detection and eradication programs are critical.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author's E-mail: jane.mangold@oregonstate.edu
References
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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
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