Effects of an African grass invasion on Hawaiian shrubland nitrogen biogeochemistry

Gregory P. Asner, Susan W. Beatty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


African perennial C4 grasses are highly successful invaders in Hawaiian ecosystems. We examined the effects of African molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora Beauv.) on Hawaiian shrubland nitrogen (N) dynamics without the influence of fire disturbance. Vegetation tissue carbon and nitrogen chemistry, soil inorganic N pools, net N mineralization rates, and total soil N were studied in three adjacent areas: a monospecific Melinis grassland, a mixed grass/shrubland mosaic, and an un-invaded shrubland. Melinis plots within the mosaic area exhibited the largest inorganic N pools and fastest net N mineralization rates, but were temporally variable with grass phenology. Un-invaded shrubland plots contained the smallest inorganic N pools and lowest net N mineralization rates. Grass foliar C:N and litter C:N were lower than those of common shrubland species, providing one possible link between species and ecosystem N dynamics at this site. The combined effects of N cycle modification, successful light competition, and fire- cycle enhancement make the invasion of Melinis a significant perturbation to Hawaiian shrubland ecosystem function and successional dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • African grasses
  • Hawaii
  • Melinis minutiflora
  • biological invasions
  • ecosystem processes
  • nitrogen cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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