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Keywords:

  • bottom-up control;
  • Box elder;
  • facilitation;
  • invasive species;
  • non-native plants;
  • Tamarisk

Invasive plants are typically managed using top-down control techniques that focus on the removal of the target organism. Bottom-up control limits the resources available to the undesired species by manipulating disturbance, competition, and successional processes, and thus may prevent reinvasion. Tamarisk species (Tamarix sp.) have invaded riparian areas throughout western North America, resulting in expansive control efforts. A companion study has shown that a native competitor, Box elder (Acer negundo), is capable of outcompeting and killing established Tamarisk through light interception in canyons of Dinosaur National Monument (DNM), Colorado. The goal of this study was to determine the feasibility of using Box elder as a bottom-up control agent by (1) determining the distributional overlap of the two species in DNM; (2) determining if Tamarisk facilitates Box elder establishment; and (3) analyzing Box elder seedling survival across a range of physical gradients. The distribution of Tamarisk and Box elder overlapped considerably throughout the study area. Box elder seedlings were planted under Tamarisk canopies or areas with the canopy removed. Survival was significantly higher under Tamarisk canopies, indicating that Tamarisk facilitates Box elder seedling survival. Box elder seedling survival was tested across soil texture, litter depth, groundwater depth, and shade intensities indicative of conditions found in the canyons of DNM, and survival was high for all treatments. The manipulation of competitive and successional processes through the promotion of Box elder and other native tree establishment is suggested as a means of bottom-up Tamarisk control to complement traditional control techniques.