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February 26, 2024

This publication examined patterns and predictors of non-native plant invasion following fire across the western United States by synthesizing data from 26,729 vegetation plots measured after they were burned. 

The authors found that non-native plant cover was higher in plots measured after wildfires compared to prescribed burns or unburned plots. Cool-season short-lived grasses, such as cheatgrass, composed most of the non-native post-fire vegetation. 

Climate variables were the most influential predictors of the cover of non-native short-lived grasses and forbs after fires, with invasion being more common in areas with drier summers and a higher proportion of yearly precipitation falling in October through March. 

Models using future projected climate for mid (2041–2070) and end (2071–2100) of century showed a potential for increasing post-fire invasion risk at higher elevations and latitudes. These findings highlight priorities for mitigation, monitoring, and restoration efforts to reduce post-fire plant invasion risk across the western United States.

Learn More: Prevéy, J.S., et al. Non-native plant invasion after fire in western USA varies by functional type and with climate. Biol Invasions (2024).

map and chart of burned and unburned vegetation plots, and the amount of annual grass invasion post-fire
A Locations of all plots in the dataset. Brown points indicate plots that burned up to 50 years prior to vegetation measurements (n = 26,729), and green points indicate plots that were not identified as having burned within 50 years of measurements (n = 211,070). The size of points relates to the percent cover of non-native plant species recorded at that plot. B Average cover of all non-native plant species in plots burned up to 50 years prior to measurement, and unburned plots, plus or minus standard error. Map tiles for base map by Stamen Design, under CC BY 4.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL. Figure from Prevéy and others (2024).

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