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Mapping and monitoring cheatgrass dieoff in rangelands of the Northern Great Basin, USA

February 11, 2015

Understanding cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) dynamics in the Northern Great Basin rangelands, USA, is necessary to effectively manage the region’s lands. This study’s goal was to map and monitor cheatgrass performance to identify where and when cheatgrass dieoff occurred in the Northern Great Basin and to discover how this phenomenon was affected by climatic, topographic, and edaphic variables. We also examined how fire affected cheatgrass performance. Land managers and scientists are concerned by cheatgrass dieoff because it can increase land degradation, and its causes and effects are not fully known. To better understand the scope of cheatgrass dieoff, we developed multiple ecological models that integrated remote sensing data with geophysical and biophysical data. The models’ R2 ranged from 0.71 to 0.88, and their root mean squared errors (RMSEs) ranged from 3.07 to 6.95. Validation of dieoff data showed that 41% of pixels within independently developed dieoff polygons were accurately classified as dieoff, whereas 2% of pixels outside of dieoff polygons were classified as dieoff. Site potential, a long-term spatial average of cheatgrass cover, dominated the development of the cheatgrass performance model. Fire negatively affected cheatgrass performance 1 year postfire, but by the second year postfire performance exceeded prefire levels. The landscape-scale monitoring study presented in this paper helps increase knowledge about recent rangeland dynamics, including where cheatgrass dieoffs occurred and how cheatgrass responded to fire. This knowledge can help direct further investigation and/or guide land management activities that can capitalize on, or mitigate the effects of, cheatgrass dieoff.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Mapping and monitoring cheatgrass dieoff in rangelands of the Northern Great Basin, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.rama.2014.12.005
Authors Stephen P. Boyte, Bruce K. Wylie, Donald J. Major
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Rangeland Ecology and Management
Series Number
Index ID 70140950
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center