Effects of defoliation, litter, and moss on Bromus arvensis in a northern mixed-grass prairie.
Exotic winter annual grasses (Bromus spp.) are a problem in North American rangelands. Defoliation, litter, and mosses are thought to regulate invasive annual Bromus species. We conducted a field experiment that tested effects of mechanical mowing and fungicide applications on Bromus arvensis, other and total graminoids, forbs, litter, and moss. Treatments caused litter biomass and moss cover to vary, which enabled testing whether litter and mosses explain variation in B. arvensis biomass. Two yr after cessation of experimental treatments, mowing treatments caused persistent reductions in B. arvensis, total graminoid, and litter biomasses but had no effect on other graminoid and forb biomasses. We detected a positive relationship between litter and B. arvensis. Fungicide applications increased moss cover and other and total graminoid biomasses, thereby suggesting mosses and several graminoids were released from the suppressive effects of biota (e.g., lichen, pathogenic fungi) susceptible to the fungicide. We found no relationship, however, between moss cover and B. arvensis. In temperate and semiarid ecosystems, mowing during flowering and before seed drop coupled with removal of clippings is likely to help control invasive bromes and fungicide additions may increase grass production.