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Title Post-fire vegetation dynamics of a sagebrush steppe community change significantly over time
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Sagebrush steppe ecosystems of the Intermountain West have experienced a decline over the past 150 years due to changing fire regimes, invasive species and conifer encroachment. Prescribed fire is a common and cost-effective tool used in sagebrush restoration and fuels management. We examined the post-fire succession of a sagebrush steppe community over a nearly 30-year period at two study sites in northeastern California. The long-term nature of this study was particularly significant, as invasive annual grasses dominated the plant community in the years immediately following fire, but native perennial grasses and shrubs successfully out-competed them in the long term. Shrubs were slow to recover but had returned to pre-fire levels by the end of the study period. There was also notable increase in western juniper throughout the study sites, particularly in areas that had not been burned. Our results indicate that mean fire return intervals of 50 years or less would help reduce western juniper encroachment and preserve sagebrush habitat, especially for potentially threatened species such as the sage grouse.

Hanna, Sara K. : S.K. Hanna is Lecturer in the Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources at Humboldt State University
Fulgham, Kenneth
Rangeland Resources Management
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Date Added Apr 30, 2015
Copyright © The Regents of the University of California
Copyright Year 2015

Nearly 30 years after a burn at two sites in northeastern California, sagebrush had recovered fully and invasive grasses had diminished.

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