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Publications

The USGS fire science mission is to produce and deliver the best available scientific information, tools, and products to support land and emergency management by individuals and organizations at all levels. Below are USGS publications associated with our fire science portfolio. 

Filter Total Items: 299

Future direction of fuels management in sagebrush rangelands

Sagebrush ecosystems in the United States have been declining since EuroAmerican settlement, largely due to agricultural and urban development, invasive species, and altered fire regimes, resulting in loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. To combat continued conversion to undesirable ecological states and loss of habitat to invasive species fueled by frequent fire, a variety of fuel treatment

Plant community trajectories following livestock exclusion for conservation vary and hinge on initial invasion and soil-biocrust conditions in shrub steppe

Adjustments or complete withdrawal of livestock grazing are among the most common conservation actions in semiarid uplands, but outcomes can vary considerably with ecological context. Invasion by exotic annual grasses and the excessive wildfire they promote are increasing threats to semiarid shrub-steppe, and plant-community response to livestock exclusion in these areas may be complicated by the

Post-fire seed dispersal of a wind-dispersed shrub declined with distance to seed source, yet had high levels of unexplained variation

Plant-population recovery across large disturbance areas is often seed-limited. An understanding of seed dispersal patterns is fundamental for determining natural-regeneration potential. However, forecasting seed dispersal rates across heterogeneous landscapes remains a challenge. Our objectives were to determine (i) the landscape patterning of post-disturbance seed dispersal, and underlying sourc

Modeling of fire spread in sagebrush steppe using FARSITE: An approach to improving input data and simulation accuracy

Background: Model simulations of wildfire spread and assessments of their accuracy are needed for understanding and managing altered fire regimes in semiarid regions. The accuracy of wildfire spread simulations can be evaluated from post hoc comparisons of simulated and actual wildfire perimeters, but this requires information on pre-fire vegetation fuels that is typically not available. We assess

Reestablishing a foundational species: limitations on post-wildfire sagebrush seedling establishment

Improving post-wildfire restoration of foundational plant species is crucial for conserving imperiled ecosystems. We sought to better understand the initial establishment of sagebrush (Artemisia sp.), a foundational shrubland species over a vast area of western North America, in the first 1–2 years post-wildfire, a critical time period for population recovery. Field data from 460 sagebrush populat

Ten-year ecological responses to fuel treatments within semiarid Wyoming big sagebrush ecosystems

Sagebrush ecosystems of western North America are threatened by invasive annual grasses and wildfires that can remove fire-intolerant shrubs for decades. Fuel reduction treatments are used ostensibly to aid in fire suppression, conserve wildlife habitat, and restore historical fire regimes, but long-term ecological impacts of these treatments are not clear. In 2006, we initiated fuel reduction tre

Relationship of greater sage-grouse to natural and assisted recovery of key vegetation types following wildfire: Insights from scat

Megafires are creating severe conservation problems worldwide for wildlife that have obligate dependencies on plant species that are foundational but fire-intolerant. Wildfire-induced loss of native perennials and increases in exotic annual grasses threaten greater sage-grouse (GRSG, Centrocercus urophasianus) in its sagebrush steppe habitat in western North America. Post-fire restoration using he

Statistical consideration of nonrandom treatment applications reveal region-wide benefits of widespread post-fire restoration action

Accurate predictions of ecological restoration outcomes are needed across the increasingly large landscapes requiring treatment following disturbances. However, observational studies often fail to account for nonrandom treatment application, which can result in invalid inference. Examining a spatiotemporally extensive management treatment-- post-fire seeding of declining sagebrush shrubs across th

Interannual variation in climate contributes to contingency in post-fire restoration outcomes in seeded sagebrush steppe

Interannual variation, especially weather, is an often-cited reason for restoration “failures”; yet its importance is difficult to experimentally isolate across broad spatiotemporal extents, due to correlations between weather and site characteristics. We examined post-fire treatments within sagebrush-steppe ecosystems to ask: (1) Is weather following seeding efforts a primary reason why restorati

Fuel reduction treatments reduce modeled fire intensity in the sagebrush steppe

Increased fire size and frequency coupled with annual grass invasion pose major challenges to sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem conservation, which is currently focused on protecting sagebrush community composition and structure. A common strategy for mitigating potential fire is to use fuel treatments that alter the structure and amount of burnable material, thus reducing fire behavior and cre

Plant community context controls short- vs. medium-term effects of pre-emergent herbicides on target and non-target species after fire

Questions: Selective herbicide application is a common restoration strategy to control exotic invaders that interfere with native plant recovery after wildfire. Whether spraying with preemergent or bioherbicides releases native plants from competition with exotics (“spray-and-release” strategy) and can make communities resistant to re-invasion by exotic annual grasses (e.g., cheatgrass, medusahead

Greater sage-grouse respond positively to intensive post-fire restoration treatments

Habitat loss is the most prevalent threat to biodiversity in North America. One of the most threatened landscapes in the United States is the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem, much of which has been fragmented or converted to non-native grasslands via the cheatgrass-fire cycle. Like many sagebrush obligates, greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) depend upon sagebrush for food and cov