Short-term priority over exotic annuals increases the initial density and longer-term cover of native perennial grasses

Published on 2016-08-04T21:31:13Z (GMT) by
<p>Temporal priority can affect individual performance and reproduction, as well as community assembly, but whether these effects persist over time remains unclear, and their demographic mechanisms have been little explored. The continued dominance of exotic annual grasses in California has been commonly attributed to their demonstrated early germination and rapid early growth relative to native perennial grasses. This advantage may play a crucial role in the structure of California exotic annual grasslands, as well as in the practice of native grassland restoration. We tested whether a two-week planting advantage under field conditions increased individual survival, growth, and reproduction for four native perennial grass species and whether these effects persisted over three years. We show that short-term priority significantly increased the establishment success of native perennial grasses. Increased density of native grass seedlings presaged later large increases in cover that were not evident in the first year after planting. Although priority effects at the individual level may diminish over time, short differences in emergence timing can have long-lasting effects on community structure. Earlier germination and faster initial growth of exotic annual species may help explain their unprecedented invasion and continued dominance of California grasslands. Finally, these results highlight the importance of priority effects for effective exotic annual control during native grassland restoration in California: initial control can increase the establishment of native perennial seedlings, which then results in long-term control by mature native individuals.</p>

Cite this collection

Vaughn, Kurt J.; P. Young, Truman (2016): Short-term priority over exotic annuals increases the initial density and longer-term cover of native perennial grasses. Wiley.

https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3296795.v1

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