Annual grass invasion in sagebrush steppe: the relative importance of climate, soil properties and biotic interactions

Oecologia
Sheel Bansal, Roger L Sheley

Abstract

The invasion by winter-annual grasses (AGs) such as Bromus tectorum into sagebrush steppe throughout the western USA is a classic example of a biological invasion with multiple, interacting climate, soil and biotic factors driving the invasion, although few studies have examined all components together. Across a 6000-km(2) area of the northern Great Basin, we conducted a field assessment of 100 climate, soil, and biotic (functional group abundances, diversity) factors at each of 90 sites that spanned an invasion gradient ranging from 0 to 100 % AG cover. We first determined which biotic and abiotic factors had the strongest correlative relationships with AGs and each resident functional group. We then used regression and structural equation modeling to explore how multiple ecological factors interact to influence AG abundance. Among biotic interactions, we observed negative relationships between AGs and biodiversity, perennial grass cover, resident species richness, biological soil crust cover and shrub density, whereas perennial and annual forb cover, tree cover and soil microbial biomass had no direct linkage to AG. Among abiotic factors, AG cover was strongly related to climate (increasing cover with increasing temperature a...Continue Reading

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Citations

Dec 10, 2016·Ecological Applications : a Publication of the Ecological Society of America·Rachel M MitchellG Matt Davies
Jan 30, 2020·Global Change Biology·Jane A CatfordDavid Tilman

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