Effects of Soil Nitrogen Reduction on Nonnative Plants in Restored Grasslands


  • K. J. Reever Morghan,

    1. Department of Agronomy and Range Science  , One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, U.S.A.
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  • T. R. Seastedt

    1. Department of Environmental  , Population, and Organismic Biology, and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, 1560 30th Street, Campus Box 450, Boulder, CO 80309–0450, U.S.A.
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We studied the cumulative effects of 3 years of carbon amendments on previously disturbed mixed-grass prairie sites near Boulder, Colorado. Analysis of soil inorganic nitrogen during the third field season indicated statistically significant but short-term nitrogen reduction in response to addition of a combination of sugar and sawdust treatments. Plant foliage production was significantly reduced by these carbon amendments and averaged 377 g/m2/year on control plots versus 219 g/m2/year on treated plots. Undesirable species such as Centaurea diffusa (diffuse knapweed) exhibited a similar biomass response. But after three years of treatment there is little evidence to suggest a relative increase in desirable, reseeded species such as Agropyron smithii (western wheatgrass). We suggest that the carbon amendment treatment alone is an inadequate remediation technique in areas exposed to extensive seed rain by exotic species.