Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Philip J. Urness
The objectives of this study were to assess the effects of prescribed burning on herbaceous and browse forage quality in the aspen forest type for elk and domestic sheep.
Plant samples of selected forage species were taken from burned and nonburned plots within three different prescribed burns in southeastern Idaho. These samples were analyzed for in vitro dry matter digestibility, crude protein, calcium and phosphorus. Data were analyzed using the analysis of variance.
There was little improvement in forage quality as a result of prescribed burning, with some reduction in quality in 1983 exhibited by pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens). Aspen on August 2 , 1982 had improved elk IVDMD and Ca/P ratios, crude protein and phosphorus levels and decreased calcium content on the burned versus the nonburned areas . By August 22, 1982, only crude protein levels were improved. All of the shrubs analyzed for that date had improved crude protein levels on the burned versus the nonburned areas, but only serviceberry had higher phosphorus levels.
In 1983, none of the shrubs or forbs had improved forage quality. Pinegrass decreased in IVDMD and c rude protein on the burned areas, possibly due to a more rapid maturation and increased seed production.
Other benefits from prescribed burning included a changing species composition from dense shrub matts to more palatable and nutritious forbs that are not found on unburned areas . This reduction in shrubs also led to greater access of animals to available forage.
The aspen type was shown to have a nutritious and valuable understory, irrespective of prescribed burning.
Blank, Deborah L., "Forage Quality Comparison of Burned and Nonburned Aspen Communities" (1984). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 3402.
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