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Short-term response of Holcus lanatus L. (Common Velvetgrass) to chemical and manual control at Yosemite National Park, USA

October 20, 2015

One of the highest priority invasive species at both Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks is Holcus lanatus L. (common velvetgrass), a perennial bunchgrass that invades mid-elevation montane meadows. Despite velvetgrass being a high priority species, there is little information available on control techniques. The goal of this project was to evaluate the short-term response of a single application of common chemical and manual velvetgrass control techniques. The study was conducted at three montane sites in Yosemite National Park. Glyphosate spot-spray treatments were applied at 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0% concentrations, and compared with hand pulling to evaluate effects on cover of common velvetgrass, cover of other plant species, and community species richness. Posttreatment year 1 cover of common velvetgrass was 12.1% ± 1.6 in control plots, 6.3% ± 1.5 averaged over the four chemical treatments (all chemical treatments performed similarly), and 13.6% ± 1.7 for handpulled plots. This represents an approximately 50% reduction in common velvetgrass cover in chemically- treated plots recoded posttreatment year 1 and no statistically significant reduction in hand pulled plots compared with controls. However, there was no treatment effect in posttreatment year 2, and all herbicide application rates performed similarly. In addition, there were no significant treatment effects on nontarget species or species richness. These results suggest that for this level of infestation and habitat type, (1) one year of hand pulling is not an effective control method and (2) glyphosate provides some level of control in the short-term without impact to nontarget plant species, but the effect is temporary as a single year of glyphosate treatment is ineffective over a two-year period.

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