Context: Plant invasions of native ecosystems are one of the main causes of declines in biodiversity via system-simplification. Restoring native biodiversity can be particularly challenging in landscapes where invasive species have become dominant and where a new set of feedbacks reinforce an invaded state and preclude restoration actions. We lack an understanding of the response of invaded systems to landscape-level manipulations to restore pattern and process relationships and how to identify these relationships when they do not appear at the expected scale. Objectives: To better understand how fire and grazing influence landscape-level heterogeneity in invaded landscapes, we assess the scale at which grazing pressure and seasonality mediate the success of re-introducing a historical disturbance regime, grazing driven by fire (termed pyric herbivory), to an invasive plant-dominated landscape. Methods: We manipulated grazing timing and intensity in exotic grass-dominated grasslands managed for landscape heterogeneity with spring fire and grazing. In pastures under patch-burn grazing management, we evaluated the spatial and temporal variability of plant functional groups and vegetation structure among and within patches managed with separate grazing systems: season-long stocking and intensive early stocking. Results: Warm- and cool-season grasses exhibited greater among-patch variability in invasive-plant dominated grassland under intensive early grazing than traditional season-long grazing, but landscape-level heterogeneity, as measured through vegetation structure was minimal and invariable under both levels of grazing pressure, which contrasts findings in native-dominated systems. Moreover, within-patch heterogeneity for these functional groups was detected; contrasting the prediction that among-patch heterogeneity, in mesic grasslands, manifests from within-patch homogeneity. Conclusions: In invaded grasslands, manipulation of grazing pressure as a process that drives heterogeneous vegetation patterns influences native and non-native grass heterogeneity, but not heterogeneity of vegetation structure, within and among patches managed with fire. Fire and grazing-moderated heterogeneity patterns observed in native grass-dominated grasslands likely differ from invasive grass-dominated grasslands with implications for using pyric herbivory in invaded systems.
- Biological invasion
- Fire-grazer interaction
- Information visualization
- Patch-burn grazing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Nature and Landscape Conservation