Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn) is a competitive native perennial grass with monoculturistic tendencies and poor palatability. We examined effects of fire, defoliation, and interspecific/intraspecific planting for 1) threeawn responses in the presence of threeawn, Bouteloua gracilis, or Pascopyrum smithii, and 2) B. gracilis and P. smithii response with threeawn. Biomass, aboveground production, tillers, and axillary buds were analyzed following two fire and four clipping treatments applied to three species–pair combinations in a completely randomized factorial design with nine replications. Fire killed 36% of threeawn. Fire reduced surviving threeawn biomass 61% and reduced production 27%. Threeawn production was greatest when neither plant was clipped and least when competing species were moderately clipped, or when both plants were severely clipped. Tiller counts of burned threeawn were similar among clipping treatments, and less than non-clipped or moderately clipped plants not burned. Fire decreased threeawn axillary buds on average by 25%. Moderately clipped plants had greater production than those from other clipping treatments across species. Average threeawn percentage of pot biomass was greater with B. gracilis (46 ± 3% SE) than P. smithii (38 ± 3% SE). Fire reduced threeawn from 60 ± 3% to 23 ± 3% of pot biomass, indicating good potential for rapid reductions in threeawn dominance and restoration of plant diversity with fire.
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Vol. 66 • No. 3