Using strategically applied grazing to manage invasive alien plants in novel grasslands

J. Firn, Jodi Price, R.D.B. Walley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Novel ecosystems that contain new combinations of invasive alien plants (IAPs) present a challenge for managers. Yet, control strategies that focus on the removal of the invasive species and/or restoring historical disturbance regimes often do not provide the best outcome for long-term control of IAPs and the promotion of more desirable plant species.

    This study seeks to identify the primary drivers of grassland invasion to then inform management practices toward the restoration of native ecosystems. By revisiting both published and unpublished data from experiments and case studies within mainly an Australian context for native grassland management, we show how alternative states models can help to design control strategies to manage undesirable IAPs by manipulating grazing pressure.

    Ungulate grazing is generally considered antithetical to invasive species management because in many countries where livestock production is a relatively new disturbance to grasslands (such as in Australia and New Zealand as well as Canada and the USA), selective grazing pressure may have facilitated opportunities for IAPs to establish. We find that grazing stock can be used to manipulate species composition in favour of the desirable components in pastures, but whether grazing is rested or strategically applied depends on the management goal, sizes of populations of the IAP and more desirable species, and climatic and edaphic conditions.

    Based on our findings, we integrated these relationships to develop a testable framework for managing IAPs with strategic grazing that considers both the current state of the plant community and the desired future state—i.e. the application of the principles behind reclamation, rehabilitation, restoration or all three—over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)26
    JournalEcological Processes
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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