Present address: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 322 E. Front Street, Suite 401, Boise, ID 83702, USA.
Stability of exotic annual grasses following restoration efforts in southern California coastal sage scrub
Article first published online: 19 MAR 2008
Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society. No claim to original US government works
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 45, Issue 2, pages 495–504, April 2008
How to Cite
Cox, R. D. and Allen, E. B. (2008), Stability of exotic annual grasses following restoration efforts in southern California coastal sage scrub. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45: 495–504. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01437.x
- Issue published online: 19 MAR 2008
- Article first published online: 19 MAR 2008
- Received 6 March 2007; accepted 21 September 2007 Handling Editor: Phil Hulme
- Artemisia californica;
- Bromus spp.;
- exotic forbs;
- grass control;
- herbicide application;
- invasive species;
- soil disturbance
- 1Restoration of semi-arid shrub ecosystems often requires control of invasive grasses but the effects of these grass-control treatments on native and exotic forbs have not been investigated adequately to assess long-term stability. In southern California, coastal sage scrub (CSS) vegetation is one semi-arid shrub community that has been invaded extensively by both exotic grasses and exotic forbs and is a target for restoration.
- 2We studied the effects of grass-specific herbicide, thatch removal plus herbicide and mowing on native and exotic species in a heavily invaded CSS community. We followed this grass-control experiment for 6 years to assess the stability of such treatments. We also added a soil disturbance experiment to investigate the potential influence of thatch removal and soil disturbance on exotic and native grasses and forbs.
- 3In the grass-control experiment, treatments reduced exotic grass cover to differing degrees. Three years of mowing resulted in lower exotic grass cover, but only for 2 years. Both herbicide and herbicide plus thatch removal reduced exotic grasses more than mowing, and effects persisted for longer. However, reducing exotic grass cover increased seeded species only during the year of seeding. In addition, plots where exotic grasses were controlled by herbicides also experienced increases in exotic forb cover.
- 4In the soil-disturbance experiment, treatments did not increase cover of native species, although plots in which soil was disturbed did have less exotic grass cover. In both experiments, plots observed in years with different rainfall experienced widely varied plant cover, emphasizing the influence that precipitation exerts in these systems.
- 5Synthesis and applications. In restoration of semi-arid shrub ecosystems, grass control can reduce exotic grasses over the short-term. However, recovery of grasses in the longer term indicates that restoration does not form a new stable state. Restoration and management of semi-arid shrublands may therefore require continual grass control. Exotic forbs should also be considered for control, as they may increase when exotic grasses are removed. Yearly variations in precipitation confound determination of successful restoration efforts, and require long-term observations to detect the response of native species to treatments.