Positive effects of non-native grasses on the growth of a native annual in a southern California ecosystem

Gregory J. Pec, Gary C. Carlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fire disturbance is considered a major factor in the promotion of non-native plant species. Non-native grasses are adapted to fire and can alter environmental conditions and reduce resource availability in native coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities of southern California. In these communities persistence of non-native grasses following fire can inhibit establishment and growth of woody species. This may allow certain native herbaceous species to colonize and persist beneath gaps in the canopy. A field manipulative experiment with control, litter, and bare ground treatments was used to examine the impact of non-native grasses on growth and establishment of a native herbaceous species, Cryptantha muricata . C. muricata seedling survival, growth, and reproduction were greatest in the control treatment where non-native grasses were present. C. muricata plants growing in the presence of non-native grasses produced more than twice the number of flowers and more than twice the reproductive biomass of plants growing in the treatments where non-native grasses were removed. Total biomass and number of fruits were also greater in the plants growing in the presence of nonnative grasses. Total biomass and reproductive biomass was also greater in late germinants than early germinants growing in the presence of non-native grasses. This study suggests a potential positive effect of non-native grasses on the performance of a particular native annual in a southern California ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere112437
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 7 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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