Contributing to the success of Bromus tectorum in the Intermountain West may be a mechanism called apparent competition, which occurs when one species increases the pressure of a consumer on a second species. This indirect interaction has been documented only a few times in invasive plant systems, and never in a fungal pathosystem. We examined the effects of the invasive annual Bromus tectorum and predation by the seed pathogen Pyrenophora semeniperda on seedling emergence and survival for two native grasses (Pseudoroegneria spicata and Elymus elymoides), by manipulating B. tectorum densities and P. semeniperda inoculum loads in randomized plots. Identical field studies were conducted in Skull Valley, Utah (xeric site) and Sprague, Washington (mesic site). The addition of inoculum decreased emergence of native grass seedlings at both sites and increased the amount of unemerged native seeds that were killed by P. semeniperda. Higher densities of B. tectorum decreased native grass survival at the mesic site and increased survival at the xeric site probably due to the beneficial effects of B. tectorum litter on soil moisture. At both sites, there were more B. tectorum seeds found in the seed banks in plots with high B. tectorum densities than in low-density plots. This indicates an increase in available prey for P. semeniperda. There was a much lower level of infection in B. tectorum seed bank seeds at the mesic site than at the xeric site. The high level of ungerminated native seeds killed by background levels of P. semeniperda, combined with the increase in available prey for the fungus in high-density B. tectorum plots, shows that apparent competition may play a role, along with direct competition, in the success of B. tectorum. This interaction is important to consider when dealing with control of B. tectorum.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


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Apparent competition, Bromus tectorum, Elymus elymoides, Pseudoroegneria spicata, Pyrenophora semeniperda