Recovery of upland acid grasslands after successful<i> Pteridium</i><i> aquilinum</i> control: Long-term effectiveness of cutting, repeated herbicide treatment and bruising

Alday, JG, Cox, ES, Santana, VM, Lee, H, Ghorbani, J, Milligan, G, McAllister, HA, Pakeman, RJ, Le Duc, MG and Marrs, RH ORCID: 0000-0002-0664-9420
(2023) Recovery of upland acid grasslands after successful<i> Pteridium</i><i> aquilinum</i> control: Long-term effectiveness of cutting, repeated herbicide treatment and bruising. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 342. 118273-.

[img] Text
Bamford.paper.v2.deposit.docx - Author Accepted Manuscript

Download (10MB)


There is a clear need for the development of management strategies to control dominant, perennial weeds and restore semi-natural communities and an important part of this is to know how long control treatments take to be effective and how long they last after treatments stop. Here, we report the results from a 17-year long experiment where we compared the effects of five control treatments on dense Pteridium aquilinum (L. Kuhn) relative to an untreated experimental-control in Derbyshire, UK. The experiment was run in two phases. In Phase 1 (2005-2012) we controlled the P. aquilinum by cutting and bruising, both twice and thrice annually, and a herbicide treatment (asulam in year 1, followed by annual spot-re-treatment of all emergent fronds). In Phase 2 (2012-2021) all treatments were stopped, and the vegetation was allowed to develop naturally. Between 2005 and 2021 we monitored P. aquilinum performance annually and full plant species composition at intervals. Here, we concentrate on analysing the Phase 2 data where we used regression approaches to model individual species responses through time and unconstrained ordination to compare treatment effects on the entire species composition over both Phases. Remote sensing was also used to assess edge invasion in 2018. At the end of Phase 1, a good reduction of P. aquilinum and restoration of acid-grassland was achieved for the asulam and cutting treatments, but not for bruising. In Phase 2, P. aquilinum increased through time in all treated plots but the asulam and cutting ones maintained a much lower P. aquilinum performance for nine years on all measures assessed. There was a reduction in species richness and richness fluctuations, especially in graminoid species. However, multivariate analysis showed that the asulam and cutting treatments were stationed some distance from the untreated and bruising treatments with no apparent sign of reversions suggesting an Alternative Stable State had been created, at least over this nine-year period. P. aquilinum reinvasion was mainly from plot edges. The use of repeated P. aquilinum control treatments, either through an initial asulam spray with annual follow-up spot-spraying or cutting twice or thrice annually for eight years gave good P. aquilinum control and helped restore an acid-grassland community. Edge reinvasion was detected, and it is recommended that either whole-patch control be implemented or treatments should be continued around patch edges.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bracken, Ecological restoration, Invasive species control, Long-term experiments, Herbicide treatment, Mechanical treatment
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 25 May 2023 07:30
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2023 09:26
DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118273
Related URLs: