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

Firn, Jennifer, Price, Jodi N., & Whalley, Ralph D.B. (2013) Using strategically applied grazing to manage invasive alien plants in novel grasslands. Ecological Processes, 2(26).

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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 By revisiting both published and unpublished data from experiments and case studies within mainly an Australian context for native grassland management, we show how alternative states models can help to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.

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ID Code: 65089
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Novel Ecosystems, Invasive Alien Plants, Control Strategies, Primary Drivers
DOI: 10.1186/2192-1709-2-26
ISSN: 2192-1709
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Firn et al.; licensee Springer.
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 05 Dec 2013 00:43
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2013 03:21

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