, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 13-24
Date: 21 Feb 2010

Immobilizing nitrogen to control plant invasion

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

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.

Communicated by Hormoz BassiriRad.