Limited data exist on the affect of downy brome invasion on biogeochemical cycling. Biogeochemical cycling was quantified in a winterfat community in northeastern, CA that was separated into three invasion classes: noninvaded (NI), invaded for 3 yr (I3), and 10 yr (I10) by downy brome. On each plot, all aboveground vegetation was harvested and separated by species, dried, weighed, and tissue nutrients quantified. In addition, soil samples were collected from 0- to 30-, 30- to 60-, and 60- to 100-cm depths and various nutrient pools quantified. Aboveground biomass g/m2 was significantly greater, with downy brome averaging over 90% of the plant mass on the I10 plots (280 g) compared to the NI plots (148 g). In comparison to the NI plots, vegetation fluxes (g/m2/yr) of carbon (C) were significantly greater, and fluxes of Ca, Fe, and Cu were significantly less on I10 plots. Soils occupied for 10 yr by downy brome have significantly greater total N and organic C, and greater availability of Fe, Mn, Cu, ortho-P, Ca, and K compared to NI soil. For the I10 plots, available soil N (dominantly NO3−) was greatest in the 60- to 100-cm-depth increment, whereas for the other plots, N availability was greatest in the 0- to 30-cm-depth increment. Net N soil mineralization potential was near 0 on the I10 plots at all depth increments. These data suggest that invasion by downy brome facilitates elevated nutrient availability, possibly increases system leakiness of N, and fosters differential plant nutrient cycling relative to a native noninvaded community. Elevated nutrient availability promulgated by downy brome invasion might increase its competitive stature. Long-term occupation of environments by downy brome might affect the vertical distribution of nutrients, which can alter soil evolution and plant successional patterns.
Nomenclature: Downy brome, Bromus tectorum L. BROTE.