Why Sagebrush Re-establishment After Fire is so Difficult

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Big sagebrush ecosystems are particularly sensitive to wildfires and life history information on big sagebrush is scarce and vital for restoration success.

Big sagebrush does not resprout after fire and the inability of restoration efforts to reestablish sagebrush is common. USGS and other scientists modeled big sagebrush population growth after post-fire restoration using data collected at 531 sites in the Great Basin. They found big sagebrush populations did not necessarily experience growth after post-fire restoration seeding due to the loss of older, larger, reproductively successfully plants and the inability of the younger, smaller plants to achieve high survivability and reproductive success. Population declines could continue for years to decades before big sagebrush populations show growth. Results show a potentially major factor inhibiting big sagebrush restoration efforts. This life history information may help land managers more successfully restore this ecologically important and iconic plant of the West. 

 

Shriver, R.K., Andrews, C.M., Arkle, R.S., Barnard, D.M., Duniway, M.C., Germino, M.J., Pilliod, D.S., Pyke, D.A., Welty, J.L., Bradford, J.B., 2019, Transient population dynamics impede landscape-level dryland restoration: Ecology Letters, https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13291

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