• coastal sage scrub (Riversidean);
  • herbicide;
  • mulch;
  • nitrogen immobilization;
  • seedbank;
  • weed control;
  • fire;
  • restoration;
  • nitrogen deposition


Natural ecosystems globally are often subject to multiple human disturbances that are difficult to restore. A restoration experiment was done in an urban fragment of native coastal sage scrub vegetation in Riverside, California that has been subject to frequent fire, high anthropogenic nitrogen deposition, and invasion by Mediterranean annual weeds. Hand cultivation and grass-specific herbicide were both successful in controlling exotic annual grasses and promoting establishment of seeded coastal sage scrub vegetation. There was no native seedbank left at this site after some 30 years of conversion to annual grassland, and the only native plants that germinated were the seeded shrubs, with the exception of one native summer annual. The city green-waste mulch used in this study (C:N of 39:1) caused short-term N immobilization but did not result in decreased grass density or increased native shrub establishment. Seeding native shrubs was successful in a wet year in this Mediterranean-type climate but was unsuccessful in a dry year. An accidental spring fire did not burn first-year shrubs, although adjacent plots dominated by annual grass did burn. The shrubs continued to exclude exotic grasses into the second growing season, suggesting that successful shrub establishment may reduce the frequency of the fire return interval.