Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Removal of invasive Scotch broom increases its negative effects on soil chemistry and plant communities.

Abstract

Recovery of ecosystem properties following removal of invasive plants likely varies with characteristics of the plant and the relative soil quality at a given site. These factors may influence the occurrence of soil legacies and secondary invasions, hindering the effectiveness of restoration strategies. We assessed the potential for ecosystem recovery following removal of N-fixing Scotch broom for 4 years at two sites that contrasted strongly in soil quality in western Washington and Oregon, USA. Comparisons were made among plots, where Scotch broom was never present (uninvaded), retained, or removed. Scotch broom removal increased PAR and soil temperature but had limited effects on soil moisture. Concentrations of soil Ca, Mg, K, and P were significantly lower with Scotch broom removal, with the effect being most pronounced at the low-quality site. NMS ordinations indicated that the treatments differed in vegetation composition, with limited recovery following broom removal. Non-native and native species varied inversely in their abundance responses, where non-native species abundance was greatest in the removal treatment, intermediate in the retained treatment, and lowest in the uninvaded treatment, indicating occurrence of a secondary invasion following removal. As with the soil response, effects were more pronounced at the low-quality site. Our findings indicate that Scotch broom removal exacerbates negative effects on soil chemistry and plant communities, with little evidence of recovery over our study period. These findings highlight the importance of controlling Scotch broom invasions immediately after the species establishes, especially on low-quality sites that are more susceptible to Scotch broom invasion.