Plant community response to the decline of diffuse knapweed in a Colorado grassland

Rosemary T. Bush, Timothy R. Seastedt*, David Buckner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Long-term reductions in invasive plant species are few, and studies documenting the response of plant communities to such reductions are equally rare. We quantified plant species richness and cover during a nine-year period at a grassland site in central Colorado where the introduction of biological control insects reduced the invasive non-native forb diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa). This reduction opened up 25 percent of the relative plant cover for other plant species. Based upon repeated inventories of plant species from four transects at the site we found no changes in native or non-native plant species richness. Although we documented a modest increase from 2.4 percent to 8.6 percent in the relative cover of native forbs as knapweed declined, we observed no significant shifts in the relative cover of total native and total non-native vegetation. Two introduced grasses, field brome (Bromus arvensis [= B. japonicus]) and intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) showed significant increases. Native warm- and cool-season grasses at the site were unable to exploit the vacuum left by the decline of the knapweed. We found little evidence of native grassland restoration following the reduction of a non-indigenous, invasive plant. Our findings support the conclusion that the reduction of a regionally abundant, non-native plant species alone is not sufficient to promote restoration of the formerly dominant native plant species, and that further management activities are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Restoration
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • Colorado
  • Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa)
  • Field brome (Bromus arvensis)
  • Grassland restoration
  • Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium)
  • Invasive plants
  • Mixed-grass prairie
  • Plant species richness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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