There is a continual need for invasive plant science to develop approaches for cost-effectively benefiting native over nonnative species in dynamic management and biophysical contexts, including within predominantly nonnative plant landscapes containing only small patches of native plants. Our objective was to test the effectiveness of a minimal-input strategy for enlarging native species patches within a nonnative plant matrix. In Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico, USA, we identified 40 native perennial grass patches within a matrix of the nonnative annual forb kochia [Bassia scoparia (L.) A.J. Scott]. We mechanically cut B. scoparia in a 2-m-wide ring surrounding the perimeters of half the native grass patches (with the other half as uncut controls) and measured change in native grass patch size (relative to pretreatment) for 3 yr. Native grass patches around which B. scoparia was cut grew quickly the first posttreatment year and by the third year had increased in size four times more than control patches. Treated native grass patches expanded by an average of 25 m2, from 4 m2 in October 2015 before treatment to 29 m2 in October 2018. The experiment occurred during a dry period, conditions that should favor B. scoparia and contraction of the native grasses, suggesting that the observed increase in native grasses occurred despite suboptimal climatic conditions. Strategically treating around native patches to enlarge them over time showed promise as a minimal-input technique for increasing the proportion of the landscape dominated by native plants.
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