1 April 2010 Large Herbivore Grazing and Non-Native Plant Invasions in Montane Grasslands of Central Argentina
Loydi Alejandro, Roberto A. Distel, Sergio M. Zalba
Author Affiliations +

Grazing by large herbivores has the potential to facilitate invasion of natural grasslands by non-native plant species. Often, both herbivore identity and plant community type modulate this effect. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of grazing on non-native plant species richness and cover in montane grasslands of central Argentina as related to herbivore identity (horse or cattle) and plant community type. The study was conducted in piedmont valleys of the Ventania Mountains. The area is occupied by two major types of plant communities: short-needlegrass and tall-tussock grasslands. Short-needlegrass grasslands occupy poor soils and have higher plant species diversity compared to tall-tussock grasslands which typically grow on rich soils. Part of the study area is devoted to cattle husbandry, part is inhabited by feral horses, and part has been free of grazing by large herbivores for the last 15 years. We compared non-native species richness and cover at three levels of grazing (horse grazing, cattle grazing, grazing exclusion) and two levels of plant community type (short-needlegrass grassland and tall-tussock grassland) at the end of the growing season in 2006 and 2007. Thirty-one nonnative plant species were found growing in the study area. Grazing increased non-native species richness and cover and was highest under horse grazing and in communities on resource-rich soils. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that grazing by large non-native herbivores can facilitate non-native plant species invasion of natural grasslands. They also suggest that herbivore identity and community type modulate the effect of large herbivore grazing on grassland invasion by non-native plant species.

Loydi Alejandro, Roberto A. Distel, and Sergio M. Zalba "Large Herbivore Grazing and Non-Native Plant Invasions in Montane Grasslands of Central Argentina," Natural Areas Journal 30(2), 148-155, (1 April 2010). https://doi.org/10.3375/043.030.0203
Published: 1 April 2010
feral horses
non-native herbivores
non-native plants
Get copyright permission
Back to Top