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Keywords:

  • competition;
  • cover crops;
  • invasion biology;
  • resource availability;
  • seedling establishment;
  • soil amendments;
  • wetland restoration

Abstract

Efforts to eradicate invasive plants in restorations can unintentionally create conditions that favor reinvasion over the establishment of desired species, especially when remnant invasive propagules persist. Reducing resources needed by the invader for seedling establishment, however, may be an effective strategy to prevent reinvasion. Propagules of Phalaris arundinacea persist after removal from sedge meadow wetlands and reestablish quickly in posteradication conditions, hindering community restoration. A study was conducted in two experimental wetlands with controlled hydrologic regimes to determine if reducing light by sowing short-lived, nonpersistent native cover crops or immobilizing soil N by incorporating soil–sawdust amendments can prevent Phalaris reinvasion, allowing native communities to recover. A 10-species perennial target community and Phalaris were sown with high-diversity, low-diversity, or no cover crops in soils with or without sawdust, and seedling emergence, establishment, and growth were measured. High-diversity cover crops reduced light, decreasing Phalaris and target community seedling establishment by 89 and 57%, respectively. Short-term nitrogen reduction in sawdust-amended soils delayed Phalaris seedling emergence and decreased Phalaris seedling establishment by 59% but did not affect total target community seedling establishment. The target community reduced Phalaris seedling establishment as effectively as cover crops did. In plots where the target community was grown, amending soils with sawdust further reduced Phalaris seedling growth but not establishment. Results show that use of cover crops can reduce seedling establishment of desired species and is counterproductive to restoration goals. Further, establishing target species is more important and practical for limiting Phalaris reinvasion than is immobilizing nitrogen.