Non-native Eragrostis curvula impacts diversity of pastures in south-eastern Australia even when native Themeda triandra remains co-dominant.
Lowland grassy woodlands in Australia's south-east face reductions in native plant diversity because of invasion by non-native plants. We compared the relative abundance and diversity of plant species among sites dominated by the native Kangaroo grass (KG) Themeda triandra with sites co-dominated by the non-native African lovegrass (ALG) Eragrostis curvula and KG. We found significant differences in plant species composition depending on the dominant species. Furthermore, our results revealed differences in several diversity parameters such as a lower species richness and forb diversity on sites co-dominated by ALG and KG. This was the case despite the functional similarity of both ALG and KG - both C4 perennial tussock grasses of a similar height. Therefore, our results highlight the critical function of the native KG in maintaining and enhancing the target plant species composition and diversity within these grassy woodlands. Herbivore grazing potentially impacts on the abundance of the dominant grass and forb species in various ways, but its impact likely differs depending on their evolutionary origin. Therefore, disentangling the role of individual herbivore groups (native-, non-native mammals, and invertebrates) on the plant community composition of the lowland grassy woodlands is essential to find appropriate grazing regimes for ALG management in these ecosystems.