Occurrence and spread of nonnative invasive plants in stands treated with fire and/or mechanical treatments in the upper piedmont of South CarolinaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Increasing numbers of nonnative invasive plant species and the expansion of existing nonnative plant populations provide challenges for land managers trying to achieve commercial and restoration goals. Some methods used to achieve these goals, e.g., prescribed fire and mechanical treatments, may result in disturbances that promote the establishment and spread of invasive species. Natural disturbances, e.g., insect infestations, can also provide opportunities for nonnative plant expansion. We examined the effects of fuel-reduction treatments on the occurrence and abundance of nonnative invasive plants for mixed Pinus taeda/P. echinata stands that had sustained southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) infestations and those that had not. Invasive plant abundance appeared to be greatest 3 to 5 years after disturbance. For stands not affected by southern pine beetles, the combination of mechanical treatment plus burning resulted in the largest increases for invasive species. Stands suffering pine beetle damage and subjected to mechanical treatment showed higher invasive abundance as compared to other treatments. Some invasive species responded differently to treatments. This information can help direct land management decisions.