Sagebrush Recovery Patterns after Fuel Treatments Affected by Disturbance Type and Plant Functional Group Interactions

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Researchers evaluated 10-year effects of fuel treatments on sagebrush recruitment and plant functional group interactions using Sagebrush Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP) data.

They measured and modeled sagebrush density and cover and perennial and annual grass cover in expansion woodlands, where treatments were prescribed fire and cut-and-leave, and in areas invaded by annual grass, where treatments included prescribed fire, mowing, tebuthiuron herbicide application. Notable results included: annual grass increased in all treatments, especially prescribed fire and tebuthiuron, and cover of perennial grass increased in all treatments but tebuthiuron. Treatments in warmer and drier sites resulted in a lack of sagebrush recruitment and progressive increases in annual grass, indicating reduced resilience to fire and resistance to invaders. Alternatively, treatments in cooler and moister woodland sites had more positive effects on sagebrush recruitment and perennial grass cover, indicating potential increase in resilience to fire. 

Chambers, J.C., Urza, A.K., Board, D.I., Miller, R.F., Pyke, D.A., Roundy, B.A., Schupp, E.W., Tausch, R.J., 2021, Sagebrush Recovery Patterns after Fuel Treatments Mediated by Disturbance Type and Plant Functional Group Interactions: Ecosphere, v. 12, no. 4, e03450, https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3450.

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Date published: November 28, 2017
Status: Active

Restoration and Ecology of Arid Lands Team (FRESC)

The focus of our research is on the restoration and monitoring of the plants and soils of the Intermountain West. Our lab is part of the Snake River Field Station, but is located in Corvallis, Oregon. Research topics include fire rehabilitation effects and effectiveness, indicators of rangeland health, invasive species ecology, and restoration of shrub steppe ecosystems.

Contacts: David A Pyke