Disturbances create fluctuations in resource availability that alter abiotic and biotic constraints. Exotic invader response may be due to multiple factors related to disturbance regimes and complex interactions between other small- and largescale abiotic and biotic processes that may vary across invasion stages. We explore how cheatgrass responds to both frequency and season of prescribed burning for a 10-year period in ponderosa pine forested stands. To understand interactions of fire disturbance, other abiotic factors, biotic resistance, and propagule pressure, we use long-term data from different spatial scales representing different invasion stages (local establishment or spread and broader scale extent/impact) to model cheatgrass dynamics. We found that after 10 years, cheatgrass cover increased with fall burning regardless of burn frequency (1 burn vs. 3 burns). There was no evidence that cheatgrass invasion is decreasing through time even in areas burned only once. Factors important for explaining local fine-scale cheatgrass establishment and spread, and broader scale extent/impact varied. The spatial extent of the first burns facilitated fine-scale cheatgrass establishment while bare soil cover constrained establishment. Biotic resistance, in the form of native annual forb cover, constrained fine-scale cheatgrass spread. Initial cheatgrass abundance in 2002, a factor related to propagule pressure, was key for explaining the broader scale extent/impact of cheatgrass by 2012. Biotic resistance, in the form of native perennial grass cover, constrained extent/impact but only when initial cheatgrass abundance was low. Our findings regarding factors affecting invasion dynamics may be useful to consider for future restoration and conservation efforts in burned ponderosa pine forests.
Kerns, Becky K.; Day, Michelle A. 2017. The importance of disturbance by fire and other abiotic and biotic factors in driving cheatgrass invasion varies based on invasion stage. Biological Invasions. 19(6): 1853-1862. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1395-3.