Invasive scotch broom alters soil chemical properties in Douglas-fir forests of the Pacific Northwest, USA

Robert A. Slesak, Timothy B. Harrington, Anthony W. D’Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Backgrounds and aims: Scotch broom is an N-fixing invasive species that has high potential to alter soil properties. We compared soil from areas of Scotch broom invasion with nearby areas that had no evidence of invasion to assess the influence of broom on soil P fractions and other chemical properties. Methods: The study was conducted at two contrasting Douglas-fir sites in Oregon (OR) and Washington (WA), USA with broom invasion for 10 years. We used the Hedley sequential fractionation procedure to assess effects of Scotch broom invasion on P pools of varying bioavailability, and also measured total C, N and extractable nutrient cations. Results: Total soil C and N were significantly higher with broom present at the fine-textured OR site, but there was no effect at the coarse-textured WA site. There was no difference in labile-P measures between the presence and absence of Scotch broom at either site, but there were notable reductions (25–30 %) in the intermediately-available P fraction when broom was present. Extractable nutrient cations (notably K) were lower in the presence of broom at both sites, with the effects most pronounced at the fine-textured OR site. Conclusions: Lasting effects of Scotch broom invasion are likely to be associated with variable changes in soil C, N, and decreases in extractable nutrients and available P. These changes, and other documented effects of Scotch broom on soil, are likely to have lasting effects on Douglas-fir growth after Scotch broom removal that will vary depending soil nutrient status at a given site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Controlling Weedy and Invasive Plants program, the USDA Forest Service-Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the University of Minnesota. We are grateful to Randall Greggs of Green Diamond Resource Company and Mike Warjone of Port Blakely Tree Farms LLC for logistical support and access to the study sites. Special thanks are given to James Dollins and Dave Peter for assisting with field sampling and study establishment, and to Stephen Schoenholtz and Daniel DeBruler for conducting the laboratory analyses.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cytisus scoparius
  • Forest soils
  • Hedley sequential fractionation
  • Invasive species effects on soils
  • Soil phosphorus

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