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Sagebrush seeds are dispersed naturally from plants that survive wildfires and can also be broadcast-seeded by natural resource agencies to aid the recovery of burned landscapes. There is a need to better understand natural dispersal patterns to avoid spending limited resources for restoration on areas with adequate natural seed dispersal.

Researchers from the USGS and Boise State University conducted a study to determine how far sagebrush seeds disperse post-fire and assess the variability of dispersal across burned landscapes. The researchers collected sagebrush seeds using wind traps at study sites in areas burned by the Soda, Alkie, Pony, and Table Rock fires and a planted sagebrush garden in Idaho. Seed dispersal distances were variable, with an average dispersal distance of 16 meters. These results suggest that even areas very close to patches of surviving sagebrush may not receive enough naturally dispersed seed to recover. This information could be used by managers to predict which areas of the landscape should be prioritized for restoration seeding efforts.

Applestein, C.V., Caughlin, T.T., and Germino, M.J., 2022, Post-fire sagebrush seed dispersal varies across sites and scales- implications for restoration seeding: AoB PLANTS, Online.

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