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Relationships of Native Desert Plants with Red Brome (Bromus rubens): Toward

Summary: Relationships of Native Desert Plants with
Red Brome (Bromus rubens): Toward
Identifying Invasion-Reducing Species
Scott R. Abella, Donovan J. Craig, Lindsay P. Chiquoine, Kathryn A. Prengaman, Sarah M. Schmid, and
Teague M. Embrey*
The interactions between native and exotic species occur on a continuum from facilitative to competitive. A growing
thrust in invasive species science is differentiating where particular native species occur along this continuum, with
practical implications for identifying species that might reduce the invasibility of ecosystems. We used a greenhouse
experiment to develop a competitive hierarchy of 27 native species with red brome, an invasive annual grass in the arid
lands of the southwestern United States, and a field study to assess in situ responses of brome to native perennial species
in the Mojave Desert. Native species most competitive with brome in the competition experiment included the annuals
Esteve's pincushion and western fiddleneck and the perennials eastern Mojave buckwheat, sweetbush, and brittlebush,
which reduced brome biomass to 49 to 70% of its grown-alone amount. There was no clear difference in competitive
abilities with brome between annual and perennial natives, and competiveness was not strongly correlated (r 5 0.15)
with the biomass of the native species. In the field, sweetbush and brittlebush supported among the least cover of
brome, suggesting congruence of the strong early competitive abilities of these species with in situ patterns of brome
distribution. At the other extreme, brome attained its highest average cover (19%) below littleleaf ratany, significantly
greater than all but 3 of the 16 species evaluated. Cover by brome was only weakly related (r 5 0.19) to the area of the
perennial canopy, suggesting that factors other than the sizes of perennial plants were linked to differences in brome
cover among species. Results suggest that (1) interactions with brome differ substantially among native species, (2) these


Source: Abella, Scott R. - School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada at Las Vegas


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology