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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: 306

Propensity score matching mitigates risk of faulty inferences in observational studies of effectiveness of restoration trials

Determining effectiveness of restoration treatments is an important requirement of adaptive management, but it can be non-trivial where only portions of large and heterogeneous landscapes of concern can be treated and sampled. Bias and non-randomness in the spatial deployment of treatment and thus sampling is nearly unavoidable in the data available for large-scale management trials, and the bioph
Chad Raymond Kluender, Matthew Germino, Christopher A Anthony

Vegetation, fuels, and fire-behavior responses to linear fuel-break treatments in and around burned sagebrush steppe: Are we breaking the grass-fire cycle?

BackgroundLinear fuel breaks are being implemented to moderate fire behavior and improve wildfire containment in semiarid landscapes such as the sagebrush steppe of North America, where extensive losses in perennial vegetation and ecosystem functioning are resulting from invasion by exotic annual grasses (EAGs) that foster large and recurrent wildfires. However, fuel-break construction can also po
Matthew Germino, Samuel J. Price, Susan J Prichard

Nontarget effects of pre-emergent herbicides and a bioherbicide on soil resources, processes, and communities

Community-type conversions, such as replacement of perennials by exotic annual grasses in semiarid desert communities, are occurring due to plant invasions that often create positive plant–soil feedbacks, which favor invaders and make restoration of native perennials difficult. Exotic annual grass control measures, such as pre-emergent herbicides, can also alter soil ecosystems directly or indirec
Brynne E. Lazarus, Matthew Germino, Marie-Anne de Graaff

Analysis adapted from text mining quantitively reveals abrupt and gradual plant-community transitions after fire in sagebrush steppe

ContextPlant communities vary both abruptly and gradually over time but differentiating between types of change can be difficult with existing classification and ordination methods. Structural topic modeling (STRUTMO), a text mining analysis, offers a flexible methodology for analyzing both types of temporal trends.ObjectivesOur objectives were to (1) identify post-fire dominant sagebrush steppe p
Cara Applestein, Christopher R. Anthony, Matthew Germino

Variability in weather and site properties affect fuel and fire behavior following fuel treatments in semiarid sagebrush-steppe.

Fuel-treatments targeting shrubs and fire-prone exotic annual grasses (EAGs) are increasingly used to mitigate increased wildfire risks in arid and semiarid environments, and understanding their response to natural factors is needed for effective landscape management. Using field-data collected over four years from fuel-break treatments in semiarid sagebrush-steppe, we asked 1) how the outcomes of
Samuel J. Price, Matthew Germino

A retrospective assessment of fuel break effectiveness for containing rangeland wildfires in the sagebrush biome

Escalated wildfire activity within the western U.S. has widespread societal impacts and long-term consequences for the imperiled sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) biome. Shifts from historical fire regimes and the interplay between frequent disturbance and invasive annual grasses may initiate permanent state transitions as wildfire frequency outpaces sagebrush communities’ innate capacity to recover. The
Cali L. Weise, Brianne E. Brussee, Douglas J. Shinneman, Peter S. Coates, Michele R. Crist, Cameron L. Aldridge, Julie A. Heinrichs, Mark A. Ricca

Forecasting natural regeneration of sagebrush after wildfires using population models and spatial matching

ContextAddressing ecosystem degradation in the Anthropocene will require ecological restoration across large spatial extents. Identifying areas where natural regeneration will occur without direct resource investment will improve scalability of restoration actions.ObjectivesAn ecoregion in need of large scale restoration is the Great Basin of the Western US, where increasingly large and frequent w
Andrii Zaiats, Megan E Cattau, David Pilliod, Liu Rongsong, Juan M. Requena-Mullor, Trevor Caughlin

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
Douglas J. Shinneman, Eva Strand, Mike Pellant, John T. Abatzoglou, Mark W. Brunson, Nancy Glenn, Julie A. Heinrichs, Mojtaba Sadegh, Nicole Vaillant

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
Matthew J. Germino, Chad Raymond Kluender, Christopher R. Anthony

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
Cara Applestein, Trevor Caughlin, Matthew Germino

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
Samuel J. Price, Matthew Germino

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
Robert Arkle, David Pilliod, Matthew Germino, Michelle Jeffries, Justin L. Welty