Event Title

Long Term Fire Effects on Vegetation Composition and Fuel Loads in Sagebrush-dominated Ecosystems

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://www.restoringthewest.org

Abstract

The sagebrush steppe is among the most endangered ecosystems in western North America due to land use change, altered fire regimes, invasive species, overgrazing, and climate change. A large gap in our understanding of ecosystem response to fire in the sagebrush steppe has been a lack of data describing the effects of fire on plant composition and fuel loads in time frames longer than the first couple growing seasons following fire. To address this need, we quantified the influence of past fires (12-30 years) on current vegetation composition and fuels accumulation in intact sagebrush plant community types (mountain, Wyoming, and basin big sage and low sage) across the northern Great Basin. Native herbaceous vegetation dominated mid-succession recovery in all communities. Invasive grass cover declined with time since fire, and was low in all sagebrush types. Shrub regeneration was evident in all communities, with more woody cover in mesic mountain big sagebrush communities (17-20% cover) 10 years after fires than in arid Wyoming big sagebrush communities (

Comments

Lisa Ellsworth is an Assistant Professor, Senior Research, Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

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Oct 28th, 11:00 AM Oct 28th, 11:30 AM

Long Term Fire Effects on Vegetation Composition and Fuel Loads in Sagebrush-dominated Ecosystems

USU Eccles Conference Center

The sagebrush steppe is among the most endangered ecosystems in western North America due to land use change, altered fire regimes, invasive species, overgrazing, and climate change. A large gap in our understanding of ecosystem response to fire in the sagebrush steppe has been a lack of data describing the effects of fire on plant composition and fuel loads in time frames longer than the first couple growing seasons following fire. To address this need, we quantified the influence of past fires (12-30 years) on current vegetation composition and fuels accumulation in intact sagebrush plant community types (mountain, Wyoming, and basin big sage and low sage) across the northern Great Basin. Native herbaceous vegetation dominated mid-succession recovery in all communities. Invasive grass cover declined with time since fire, and was low in all sagebrush types. Shrub regeneration was evident in all communities, with more woody cover in mesic mountain big sagebrush communities (17-20% cover) 10 years after fires than in arid Wyoming big sagebrush communities (

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2015/Posters/16