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Role of Size and Nitrogen in Competition between Annual and Perennial Grasses

  • L. Noelle Orloff (a1), Jane M. Mangold (a1) and Fabian D. Menalled (a1)

Differing life histories contribute to difficulties establishing perennial grasses on lands dominated by exotic annual grasses. In a greenhouse study, we investigated to what extent allowing the perennial grass bluebunch wheatgrass to emerge before the exotic annual grass downy brome would increase its competitive ability and whether modifying nitrogen (N) would affect competition. We conducted an addition-series factorial experiment. In three cohort treatments, the two species were seeded concurrently or bluebunch wheatgrass was at the two- or four-leaf stage when downy brome was planted. N treatments were low (ambient) or high (N added to maintain 10 mg kg−1 [0.1286 oz lb−1]). Larger bluebunch wheatgrass avoided suppression by downy brome regardless of N. Under concurrent sowing, doubling downy brome density decreased bluebunch wheatgrass biomass by 22.6% ± 2.38 SE. In contrast, when bluebunch wheatgrass had a four-leaf size advantage, the same increase in downy brome density decreased bluebunch wheatgrass biomass by 4.14% ± 2.31. Larger bluebunch wheatgrass also suppressed downy brome more effectively, but N enrichment decreased the suppressive ability of bluebunch wheatgrass.

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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
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