Plant Community Resistance to Invasion by Bromus Species: The Roles of Community Attributes, Bromus Interactions with Plant Communities, and Bromus Traits

  • Jeanne C. ChambersEmail author
  • Matthew J. Germino
  • Jayne Belnap
  • Cynthia S. Brown
  • Eugene W. Schupp
  • Samuel B. St. Clair
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


The factors that determine plant community resistance to exotic annual Bromus species (Bromus hereafter) are diverse and context specific. They are influenced by the environmental characteristics and attributes of the community, the traits of Bromus species, and the direct and indirect interactions of Bromus with the plant community. Environmental factors, in particular ambient and soil temperatures, have significant effects on the ability of Bromus to establish and spread. Seasonality of precipitation relative to temperature influences plant community resistance to Bromus through effects on soil water storage, timing of water and nutrient availability, and dominant plant life forms. Differences among plant communities in how well soil resource use by the plant community matches resource supply rates can influence the magnitude of resource fluctuations due to either climate or disturbance and thus the opportunities for invasion. The spatial and temporal patterns of resource availability and acquisition of growth resources by Bromus versus native species strongly influence resistance to invasion. Traits of Bromus that confer a “priority advantage” for resource use in many communities include early-season germination and high growth and reproductive rates. Resistance to Bromus can be overwhelmed by high propagule supply, low innate seed dormancy, and large, if short-lived, seed banks. Biological crusts can inhibit germination and establishment of invasive annual plants, including several annual Bromus species, but are effective only in the absence of disturbance. Herbivores can have negative direct effects on Bromus, but positive indirect effects through decreases in competitors. Management strategies can be improved through increased understanding of community resistance to exotic annual Bromus species.


Ecosystem resilience Plant traits Resource dynamics Species interactions Herbivory 



Jayne Belnap was supported by the USGS Ecosystem Invasives Program. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne C. Chambers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew J. Germino
    • 2
  • Jayne Belnap
    • 3
  • Cynthia S. Brown
    • 4
  • Eugene W. Schupp
    • 5
  • Samuel B. St. Clair
    • 6
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research StationRenoUSA
  2. 2.US Geological SurveyForest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science CenterBoiseUSA
  3. 3.US Geological SurveySouthwest Biological Science CenterMoabUSA
  4. 4.Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest ManagementColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Wildland ResourcesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  6. 6.Plant and Wildlife SciencesBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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