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Project ID: 07-1-3-18

Year: 2007

Date Started: 06/14/2007

Date Completed: 12/27/2011

Title: Using Native Annual Plant Species to Suppress Weedy Invasive Species in Post-Fire Habitats

Project Proposal Abstract: Uncharacteristic fires are becoming increasingly common in Western North America and the frequency of large fires is expected to increase. As a result of the large size and intense nature of these fires, reestablishment of native vegetation is notoriously difficult in post-fire habitats. The invasion of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), red brome (Bromus rubens L.) and other exotic plants is of great concern in these habitats. These non-native species alter the trajectory of natural plant community succession and result in altered stable states that are dominated by exotic species. As a result, vast areas of Western North America have undergone dramatic changes in ecosystem structure and function causing loss of native biodiversity and loss of ecosystem goods and services. Active revegetation of burned areas has been a common practice in this region with mixed results. Restoration/revegetation strategies often rely on seeding mid- or late-successional species on these disturbed sites. We propose that establishing native early-seral species, and in particular annual species, will facilitate the establishment of native perennial plant species. Furthermore, these native annual species will compete with invasive annual species, such as cheatgrass and red brome, more effectively than seeded native perennial species. We speculate that native annual species, which naturally colonize severe disturbances, will facilitate natural transitions to later seral native plant communities thus avoiding altered stable states. If this hypothesis is supported, then seeding native annual species in post-fire habitats could be an inexpensive and effective method for restoring native species and suppressing exotic invaders. We propose to test these ideas using field seeding trials in diverse post-fire habitats on National Park Service properties in the arid western U.S. At four sites, we will establish replicate plots seeded with native annual species, native perennial species, combinations of native annuals and perennials and unseeded controls. We will monitor plant community composition by species in these plots for three growing seasons. These field experiments will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of seeding native annuals for suppressing exotic weeds such as cheatgrass and red brome while promoting native perennial plant species.

Principal Investigator: Mark W. Paschke

Agency/Organization: Colorado State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Cynthia S. Brown

Colorado State University

Department of Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management

Co-Principal Investigator

Paul J. Meiman

Colorado State University

Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Co-Principal Investigator

William H Romme

Colorado State University

Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Federal Cooperator

Gregory E. Eckert

NPS-National Park Service

Natural Resource Program Center

Federal Fiscal Representative

Debi Reep

NPS-National Park Service

Natural Resource Program Center

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin

Northern Rockies


Southern Rockies







Interior West


Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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