A comparative review of six invasive Nassella species in Australia with implications for their management.
Two Nassella species, Nassella trichotoma and Nassella neesiana, have significantly reduced the carrying capacity of Australia's south-east rangelands and agricultural systems. It is, therefore, of considerable concern that four other Nassella species have also become naturalised in Australia, and are noted to share many of the ecological features of the two currently widespread species. This paper reviews the distribution, ecology, and impacts of all six Nassella species, which are currently naturalised in Australia, and makes recommendations toward a blanket Nassella control program. The review highlights observed similarities between the species, including the time of flowering, seed type, germination requirements, and growth morphology. These common factors support the possibility that an integrated Nassella control program could be designed to integrate good grazing management with cultural control methods, such as soil cultivation, fire, and native plant competition, with treatments being implemented prior to the common annual seed maturation period. Notwithstanding the success of these integrated programs, it is recognised that seeds of all species may remain viable in the seedbank for up to 12 years, meaning ongoing monitoring and management will be required. To develop even finer control programs, further research into the ecology of these Nassella species is recommended to determine any additional weak spots in these species' defences, and to subsequently develop and apply novel integrated control methods that target all six species.