Plant and Soil

, Volume 288, Issue 1–2, pp 1–18 | Cite as

Performance of Bromus tectorum L. in relation to soil properties, water additions, and chemical amendments in calcareous soils of southeastern Utah, USA

  • Mark E. Miller
  • Jayne Belnap
  • Susan W. Beatty
  • Richard L. Reynolds
Research Article


In drylands of southeastern Utah, USA, the invasive exotic grass Bromus tectorum L. occurs in distinct spatial patterns suggesting soil control of ecosystem susceptibility to invasion. To improve our understanding of these patterns, we examined performance of B. tectorum in relation to additions of water, KCl, MgO, and CaO at seventeen 1600 m2 sites distributed across a calcareous soil gradient in Canyonlands National Park. Water additions resulted in a 57% increase in B. tectorum establishment. Fall establishment was significantly correlated with silt and clay content in wet plots but not in dry plots, suggesting that texture effects on B. tectorum establishment patterns may be greater in wet years than in dry years. Applications of MgO resulted in a 49% decrease in B. tectorum establishment, although MgO had no effect on whole-plot biomass at the end of the growing season. B. tectorum–soil relations were strongest during winter (December–March) when relative growth rates were negatively related to soil acid-neutralizing potential, sand and CaCO3 content, and a measure of bioavailable Mg; and positively related to silt and clay content, total N, measures of bioavailable Mn, P, and K, and a measure of magnetite indicating distributional patterns of eolian dust. As soils were persistently moist during this period, we attribute strong B. tectorum–soil patterns in winter to effects of low temperature on diffusion, microbial activity, and/or production of root exudates important for nutrient mobilization and uptake. In spring, there was a reversal in B. tectorum–soil relations such that loamy soils with higher B. tectorum densities were unfavorable for growth relative to sandy soils with higher warm-season water potentials. We conclude that resource limitations for B. tectorum in this study area shift seasonally, from water limitation of fall establishment, to nutrient limitation of winter growth, and back to water limitation of spring growth. Because study sites generally were arrayed along a hillslope gradient with downslope trends in soil vtexture and nutrient content, close B. tectorum–soil relations documented in this study indicate that a geomorphic framework is useful for understanding and predicting B. tectorum invasion patterns in dryland ecosystems of this region.


Invasive species Magnesium Manganese Phosphorus Potassium Spatial patterns 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

11104_2006_58_MOESM1_ESM.doc (535 kb)
Supplementary material


  1. Allison LE, Moodie CD (1965) Carbonate. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis, part 2: chemical and microbiological properties. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp 1379–1396Google Scholar
  2. Association of Official Analytical Chemists (1980) Official methods of analysis, 13th edn. AOAC, Washington DC p, 85Google Scholar
  3. Barber SA (1995) Soil nutrient bioavailability: a mechanistic approach. John Wiley & Sons, New York, p 414Google Scholar
  4. Bashkin M, Stohlgren TJ, Otsuki Y, Lee M, Evangelista P, Belnap J (2003) Soil characteristics and plant exotic species invasions in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA. App Soil Ecol 22:67–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beckstead J, Augspurger CK (2004) An experimental test of resistance to cheatgrass invasion: limiting resources at different life stages. Biol Inv 6:417–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Belnap J, Phillips SL (2001) Soil biota in an ungrazed grassland: response to annual grass (Bromus tectorum) invasion. Ecol App 11:1261–1275Google Scholar
  7. Blank RR, Allen F, Young JA (1994) Growth and elemental content of several sagebrush-steppe species in unburned and post-wildfire soil and plant effects on soil attributes. Plant Soil 164:35–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blumenthal DM (2005) Interrelated causes of plant invasion: resources increase enemy release. Science 310:243–244PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bouma D (1983) Diagnosis of mineral deficiencies using plant tests. In: Lauchli A, Bieleski RL (eds) Inorganic plant nutrition. Encyclopedia of plant physiology new series, Vol. 15A. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp 120–146Google Scholar
  10. Brady NC, Weil RR (1996) The nature and properties of soils, 11th edn. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, p 740Google Scholar
  11. Búrquez-Montijo A, Miller ME, Martínez-Yrízar A (2002) Mexican grasslands, thornscrub, and the transformation of the Sonoran Desert by invasive exotic buffelgrass. In: Tellman B (ed) Invasive exotic species in the Sonoran region. University of Arizona Press and Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson, pp 126–146Google Scholar
  12. Crawley MJ (1987) What makes a community invasible? In: Gray AJ, Crawley MJ, Edwards PJ (eds) Colonization, succession, and stability. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 429–453Google Scholar
  13. Daoust RJ, Childers DL (2004) Ecological effects of low-level phosphorus additions on two plant communities in a neotropical freshwater wetland ecosystem. Oecologia 141:672–686PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis MA, Grime JP, Thompson K (2000) Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. J Ecol 88:528–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dreimanis A (1962) Quantitative gasometric determination of calcite and dolomite by using Chittick apparatus. J Sediment Petrol 32:520–529Google Scholar
  16. Epstein E, Bloom AJ (2005) Mineral nutrition of plants: principles and perspectives, 2nd edn. Sinauer, Sunderland, p 400Google Scholar
  17. Evans RA, Young JA (1972) Microsite requirements for establishment of annual rangeland weeds. Weed Sci 20:350–356Google Scholar
  18. Ganskopp D, Bohnert D (2003) Mineral concentration dynamics among 7 northern Great Basin grasses. J Range Manage 56:174–184Google Scholar
  19. Hannam RJ, Ohki K (1988) Detection of manganese deficiency and toxicity in plants. In: Graham RD, Hannam RJ, Uren NC (eds) Manganese in soils and plants. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 243–259Google Scholar
  20. Hillel D (1998) Environmental soil physics. Academic Press, San Diego, p 771Google Scholar
  21. Hinsinger P, Plassard C, Tang C, Jaillard B (2003) Origins of root-mediated pH changes in the rhizosphere and their responses to environmental constraints: a review. Plant Soil 248:43–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huenneke LF, Hamburg SP, Koide R, Mooney HA, Vitousek PM (1990) Effects of soil resources on plant invasion and community structure in Californian serpentine grassland. Ecology 71:478–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hunt CB (1974) Natural regions of the United States and Canada. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, p 725Google Scholar
  24. Keeney DR, Nelson DW (1982) Nitrogen—inorganic forms. In: Page AL, Miller RH, Keeney DR (eds) Methods of soil analysis, part 2 chemical and microbiological properties. ASA/SSSA, Madison, pp 643–698Google Scholar
  25. Kent M, Coker P (1992) Vegetation description and analysis: a practical approach. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, p 363Google Scholar
  26. Knapp PA (1996) Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L) dominance in the Great Basin Desert. Global Environ Change 6:37–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lodge DM (1993) Biological invasions: lessons for ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 8:134–137Google Scholar
  28. Mack RN (1981) Invasion of Bromus tectorum L. into western North America: an ecological chronicle. Agro-Ecosystems 7:145–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mack RN, Pyke DA (1983) The demography of Bromus tectorum: variation in time and space. J Ecol 71:69–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mack RN, Pyke DA (1984) The demography of Bromus tectorum: the role of microclimate, grazing and disease. J Ecol 72:731–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marschner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants, 2nd ed. Academic Press, London, p 889Google Scholar
  32. McAuliffe JR (2003) The interface between precipitation and vegetation: the importance of soils in arid and semi-arid environments. In: Weltzin JF, McPherson GR (eds) Changing precipitation regimes and terrestrial ecosystems: a North American perspective. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp 9–27Google Scholar
  33. Meyer SE, Garvin SC, Beckstead J (2001) Factors mediating cheatgrass invasion of intact salt desert shrubland. In: McArthur ED, Fairbanks DJ (eds) Shrubland ecosystem genetics and biodiversity: proceedings. 2000 June 13–15; Provo, UT. Proc. RMRS-P-21. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT, pp 224–232.Google Scholar
  34. Miller ME (2000) Effects of resource manipulations and soil characteristics on Bromus tectorum L. and Stipa hymenoides R. & S. in calcareous soils of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Unpublished dissertation. University of Colorado, Boulder, p 159Google Scholar
  35. Neff JC, Reynolds RL, Belnap J, Lamothe P (2005) Multi-decadal impacts of grazing on soil physical and biogeochemical properties in southeast Utah. Ecol Appl 15:87–95Google Scholar
  36. Nelson RE (1982) Carbonate and gypsum. In: Page AL, Miller RH, Keeney DR (eds) Methods of soil analysis, part 2. Chemical and microbiological properties. ASA/SSSA, Madison, pp 181–198Google Scholar
  37. Norton JB, Sandor JA, White CS (2003) Hillslope soils and organic matter dynamics within a native American agroecosystem on the Colorado Plateau. Soil Sci Soc Am J 67:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Norton JB, Monaco TA, Norton JM, Johnson DA, Jones TA (2004) Soil morphology and organic matter dynamics under cheatgrass and sagebrush-steppe plant communities. J Arid Environ 57:445–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Noy-Meir I (1973) Desert ecosystems: environment and producers. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4:25–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Planty-Tabbachi AM, Tabacchi E, Naiman RJ, Deferrari C, Décamps H (1996) Invasibility of species-rich communities in riparian zones. Cons Biol 10:598–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reynolds R, Neff J, Reheis M, Lamothe P (2006) Atmospheric dust in modern soil on aeolian sandstone, Colorado Plateau (USA): variation with landscape position and contribution to potential plant nutrients. Geoderma 130: 108–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rickard WH, Vaughan BE (1988) Plant community characteristics and responses. In: Rickard WH, Rogers LE, Vaughan BE, Liebetrau SF (eds) Shrub-steppe: balance and change in a semi-arid terrestrial ecosystem. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 109–179Google Scholar
  43. Rosenbloom NA, Doney SC, Schimel DS (2001) Geomorphic evolution of soil texture and organic matter in eroding landscapes. Global Biogeochem Cy 15:365–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stanesco JD, Campbell JA (1989) Eolian and noneolian facies of the lower Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone Member of the Cutler Formation, southeastern Utah. In: Evolution of sedimentary basins—San Juan Basin. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1808-E-F. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, pp F1–F13.Google Scholar
  45. StatSoft, Inc. 1999 STATISTICA (data analysis software system), version 5.5. www.statsoft.comGoogle Scholar
  46. Thompson R, Oldfield F (1986) Environmental magnetism. Allen & Unwin, London, p 227Google Scholar
  47. Tyler G (1992) Inability to solubilize phosphate in limestone soils—key factor controlling calcifuge habit of plants. Plant Soil 145:65–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tyler G (1994) A new approach to understanding the calcifuge habit of plants. Ann Bot 73:327–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Underwood AJ (1997) Experiments in ecology: their logical design and interpretation using analysis of variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 504Google Scholar
  50. U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service (1991) Soil Survey of Canyonlands Area, Utah: Parts of Grand and San Juan Counties. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Salt Lake City, UT, p 293Google Scholar
  51. Veresoglou DS, Fitter AH (1984) Spatial and temporal patterns of growth and nutrient uptake of five co-existing grasses. J Ecol 72:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Williamson MH, Fitter A (1996) The characters of successful invaders. Biol Conserv 78:163–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. With KA (2002) The landscape ecology of invasive spread. Cons Bio 16:1192–1203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Young JA, Evans RA (1985) Demography of Bromus tectorum in Artemisia communities. In: White J (ed) The population structure of vegetation. Dr W. Junk, Dordrecht, pp 489–502Google Scholar
  55. Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice Hall, Upple Saddle River, NJ, p 663Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark E. Miller
    • 1
  • Jayne Belnap
    • 2
  • Susan W. Beatty
    • 3
  • Richard L. Reynolds
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveySouthwest Biological Science CenterKanabUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveySouthwest Biological Science CenterMoabUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of Colorado – BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Geological SurveyDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations