, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 13–24

Immobilizing nitrogen to control plant invasion


    • Department of BiologyColorado State University
    • Fort Collins Science Center
  • Dana M. Blumenthal
    • Rangeland Resources Research UnitUSDA-ARS
  • Thomas A. Monaco
    • Forage and Range Research LaboratoryUSDA-ARS
  • Mark W. Paschke
    • Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Watershed StewardshipColorado State University
  • Edward F. Redente
    • Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Watershed StewardshipColorado State University
Concepts, Reviews, and Syntheses

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-010-1580-x

Cite this article as:
Perry, L.G., Blumenthal, D.M., Monaco, T.A. et al. Oecologia (2010) 163: 13. doi:10.1007/s00442-010-1580-x


Increased soil N availability may often facilitate plant invasions. Therefore, lowering N availability might reduce these invasions and favor desired species. Here, we review the potential efficacy of several commonly proposed management approaches for lowering N availability to control invasion, including soil C addition, burning, grazing, topsoil removal, and biomass removal, as well as a less frequently proposed management approach for lowering N availability, establishment of plant species adapted to low N availability. We conclude that many of these approaches may be promising for lowering N availability by stimulating N immobilization, even though most are generally ineffective for removing N from ecosystems (excepting topsoil removal). C addition and topsoil removal are the most reliable approaches for lowering N availability, and often favor desired species over invasive species, but are too expensive or destructive, respectively, for most management applications. Less intensive approaches, such as establishing low-N plant species, burning, grazing and biomass removal, are less expensive than C addition and may lower N availability if they favor plant species that are adapted to low N availability, produce high C:N tissue, and thus stimulate N immobilization. Regardless of the method used, lowering N availability sufficiently to reduce invasion will be difficult, particularly in sites with high atmospheric N deposition or agricultural runoff. Therefore, where feasible, the disturbances that result in high N availability should be limited in order to reduce invasions by nitrophilic weeds.


Carbon additionEcological restorationFireGrazingPlant–soil feedbacks

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© Springer-Verlag 2010