Intense mowing management suppresses invader, but shifts competitive resistance by a native to facilitation.
Interactions among native and invasive species may affect management outcomes and goals. We implemented different mowing regimes to control the invasive Solidago gigantea and restore natural diversity, and also examined interactions between Solidago and a European native competitor, Tanacetum vulgare in the context of these regimes. Experimentally planted Tanacetum suppressed Solidago by 79% without management, and a suite of mowing management regimes reduced the density of Solidago by 80-98% when Tanacetum was absent. But, when Tanacetum was added, the density of the invader was not reduced by mowing. Put another way, in mowed plots with Tanacetum, Solidago was twofold to over fivefold denser than in mowed plots without Tanacetum. It is not clear why the effect of Tanacetum shifted from competition in the absence of disturbance to facilitation with intense management-associated disturbance, but other studies suggest that Tanacetum may create plant-soil feedbacks that favor Solidago. Evidence shows similar shifts from competition to facilitation under mowing regimes for other species, but these are not mechanistically clear either. We speculate that mowing reduced competition from Tanacetum while leaving belowground facilitative effects unchanged, shifting the net effect of Tanacetum to facilitation. When single-year mowed plots were abandoned for just 1 year, Solidago was twofold denser than in the control, thus maintaining treatments over time was important for successful management. Our results indicate that mechanical control may substantially alter biotic resistance gained from native competition.