Post-fire herbicide application yields largest reductions of Macartney rose (Rosa bracteata) in Attwater’s prairie-chicken habitat
Macartney rose (Rosa bracteata) and red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta, RIFA) have invaded the coastal prairie of Texas, a highly fragmented ecosystem. The Attwater’s prairie-chicken is endemic to the coastal prairie and is critically endangered due to habitat loss and a lack of resources. At Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, patch burn grazing as well as pesticides are used to manage invasive species and improve plant and arthropod diversity as a diet source for Attwater’s prairie-chickens. We implemented four herbicide treatments surrounding Winter 2021/2022 prescribed fires to better understand how herbicide (GrazonNext HL) alters Macartney rose cover and density, the plant and arthropod communities, and RIFA populations. Herbicide was applied either before fire, after fire, before and after fire, or not at all in plots throughout the refuge. We found plots that received herbicide before and after fire to be the only plots that had significant reductions in both cover and density while plots that did not receive herbicide or only received it after fire had reductions only in density and plots that only had herbicide before fire did not see any reduction in cover or density. Further, we found over all increases in plant community diversity throughout the study with a great increase following prescribed fire. Arthropod diversity was not influenced by treatments, plant diversity, or RIFA populations, and RIFA were not correlated with any independent variables. This study found the herbicide GrazonNext HL to be ineffective when used only before fire and most effective when used both before and after fire to best reduce cover and density of Macartney rose. We found land history to be the most significant factor when understanding Macartney rose management where areas with frequent treatments away from surrounding private lands has much lower cover and density. Spraying herbicide and implementing prescribed fire every 2-3 years in this region over time has limited Macartney rose expansion.
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