Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 1343–1354 | Cite as

Can R*s Predict Invasion in Semi-arid Grasslands?

  • Jane Krueger-Mangold
  • Roger Sheley
  • Richard Engel


We estimated R*s and tested the applicability of R* theory on nonindigenous plant invasions in semi-arid rangeland. R* is the concentration of a resource that a species requires to survive in a habitat. R* theory predicts that a species with a lower R* for the most limiting resource will competitively displace a species with a higher R* under equilibrium conditions. In a greenhouse, annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum Pursh), and spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa Lam.) were grown in monoculture and 2- and 3-species mixtures for three growth periods in an attempt to reduce soil NO3-N concentrations below each species’ R*. At the end of each growth period, aboveground biomass by species and soil plant available nitrogen were sampled. Decreasing biomass coupled with decreasing soil plant available nitrogen was used to quantify R*s for the three species. R*s for annual sunflower, bluebunch wheatgrass, and spotted knapweed were estimated to be 0.6±0.16 ppm NO 3 , less than 0.05 ppm NO 3 , and 0.6±0.13 ppm NO 3 , respectively. Estimated R*s did not predict the outcome of competition among species. To successfully predict plant community dynamics on semi-arid rangeland with and without the presence of a nonindigenous invasive species, a more comprehensive model that includes mechanisms in addition to competition may have to be considered. We speculate that R* theory may prove most useful for predicting the outcome of competition within functional groups.


Agropyron spicatum Centaurea maculosa Helianthus annuus nitrogen plant competition R* theory spotted knapweed succession 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Krueger-Mangold
    • 1
  • Roger Sheley
    • 1
  • Richard Engel
    • 2
  1. 1.Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research CenterUSDA-ARS and the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment StationBurnsUSA
  2. 2.Land Resources and Environmental Sciences DepartmentMontana State University-BozemanBozemanUSA

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