community development, ecological restoration, invasive plants, Michigan prairie, native diversity




Invasive species frequently need to be controlled as part of efforts to reestablish native species on degraded sites. While the effectiveness of differing control methods are often reported, the impacts these methods have on the establishment of a native plant community are often unknown. To determine methods that effectively reduce spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) while enhancing native species establishment, we tested 12 treatment combinations consisting of an initial site preparation (mowing, mowing + clopyralid, or mowing + glyphosate), in factorial combination with annual adult knapweed hand pulling and/or burning. We established 48 plots and applied site preparation treatments during summer 2008, seeded 23 native forbs and grasses during spring 2009, pulled adult knapweed annually from 2009–2012, and burned in the early spring 2012. During July of 2011 and 2012, percent cover of all species was visually estimated. By 2011, seeded species had established in all treatment plots, including plots that retained greater than 50% knapweed cover, indicating that native species successfully established despite knapweed dominance. Mowing alone had no longterm impacts on community development. Clopyralid favored non-native grass establishment, while glyphosate encouraged non-native forbs. Clopyralid had minimal impacts on native forb establishment, but did effectively control knapweed. Pulling reduced knapweed cover, increased non-native grass cover and enhanced native species establishment. Burning had little impact, possibly due to low intensity and unseasonable weather. On the heavily invaded site we studied, combining the use of clopyralid with hand pulling effectively controlled knapweed and favored the establishment of seeded native grasses and forbs.

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