Burning Controls Barb Goatgrass (Aegilops triuncialis) in California Grasslands for at Least 7 Years

Marty, Jaymee T.; Sweet, Sara B.; Buck-Diaz, Jennifer J.
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SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue3-Aug
Pages317 - 322
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Publication DateJUL-SEP 2015
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AbstractBarb goatgrass is an invasive annual grass from the Mediterranean region that negatively affects both native plant biodiversity and the forage quality of grasslands. Prescribed burning may be the best landscape-level tool available to manage invasive species like barb goatgrass while also enhancing biodiversity, but few studies have quantified the long-term effects of fire on goatgrass and the rest of the plant community. We assessed the effects of fire on an invading front of barb goatgrass on a private ranch in Sacramento County, CA. We established burned and unburned treatment plots within the goatgrass-infested area and used prescribed fire to burn the treatment plots in June 2005. We monitored plant-community composition before burning and for 7 consecutive yr following the burn. Additionally, we tested the viability of goatgrass seeds in both burned and unburned plots. One year after the burn, goatgrass cover in burned plots was 3% compared with 21% in unburned plots. This reduction in goatgrass cover was still strong 2 yr after the burn (burned, 6%; unburned, 27%) and weaker but still statistically significant for 4 of the next 5 yr. The burn also reduced germination of goatgrass seed by 99% as indicated by seed-viability tests conducted in the laboratory. The native plant community responded positively to the burn treatment in the first year following the burn with an increase in native diversity in burned plots vs. unburned plots, but the effect was not detectable in subsequent years. Nonnative annual forb species cover also increased in the first year following the burn. Our study shows that a single springtime burn can result in a short-term boost in native species diversity, reduced seed germination of barb goatgrass to near zero, and reduced cover of barb goatgrass for at least 7 yr after the burn.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
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