Carex rossii



INTRODUCTORY



AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Anderson, Michelle D. 2008. Carex rossii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
CARROS

NRCS PLANT CODE [107]:
CARO5

COMMON NAMES:
Ross's sedge

TAXONOMY:
The scientific name of Ross's sedge is Carex rossii Boott (Cyperaceae) [23,29,30,33,36,40,41,43,45,47,49,51,52,53,74,84,93,109,110,111].

SYNONYMS:
None

LIFE FORM:
Graminoid

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
Information on state-level protected status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Carex rossii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Ross's sedge occurs from Alaska east to Nunavut and south through the western United States to California, Arizona, and New Mexico [23,30,39,41,43,45,47,49,51,52,53,74,84,93,110,111]. It is also common in the Dakotas and Minnesota [29,36,48,52] and occurs rarely in Ontario, Michigan, and Nebraska [36,40,41,52,109].

Flora of North America provides a distributional map of Ross's sedge.

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Ross's sedge forms dry grassland associations [79] and is a common aspen parkland [39] and forest understory sedge [47]. Where Ross's sedge dominates the understory, total understory cover may be sparse [3,42]. In north-central Colorado, cover of Ross's sedge is 7% to 16% in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)/Ross's sedge habitat types and 4% to 5% in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)/Ross's sedge habitat types [42]. Peet [75] also described limber pine (Pinus flexilis) forests and Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) forests where Ross's sedge is common in the understory, but understory vegetation has little cover.

Vegetation classifications describing plant communities where Ross's sedge is a dominant species follow:

Colorado: Idaho: Nevada: Oregon: Utah: Wyoming: Intermountain region: Rocky Mountain region:

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Carex rossii
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g., [29,30,43,45,49,51]).

Ross'ss sedge is a long-lived, cespitose perennial with dense, medium-sized clumps [20,23,36,39,43,45,47,49,51,62,74]. Where dominant in grassland associations, Ross's sedge can form mats 0.3 to 3 feet (0.1-1 m) across [79]. Culms grow 2 to 15 inches (5-40 cm) tall [36,39,43,45,47,51,62,74,93] with high, slender, erect stems [51,62]. Ross's sedge has several basal leaves, 1 to 4 mm wide and as long as or longer than stems [23,47,49,62,74].

Ross's sedge bears a terminal inflorescence of 1 to 4 apical staminate spikes [47,49,74] 3 to 15 mm long [23,36,93]. Borne near the staminate spikes are 1 to 5 shorter, lateral, few-flowered pistillate spikes 3 to 4.5 mm long [23,36,43,47,49,74,111]. Some plants have shorter culms (0.4-2 inches (1-5 cm)) bearing mostly pistillate spikes, while others have taller culms (2-12 inches (5-30 cm)) bearing both staminate and pistillate spikes [29,30]. Fruit is a 3-sided achene 2 to 5 mm long [47,74].

Ross's sedge is a shallow-rooted (top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil) [35] hemicryptophyte [20]. Most authors agree that Ross's sedge has short, horizontal or ascending stolons or rhizomes [36,39,47,51,74,93]. Others describe Ross's sedge as occurring with and without rhizomes [23,111] or as non-rhizomatous [57,95].

RAUNKIAER [81] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte
Geophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Ross's sedge regenerates from seed and rhizomes [39,108].

Pollination: No information is available on this topic.

Breeding system: Ross's sedge is monoecious [23,36,43,47,49,74,111].

Seed production: No information is available on this topic.

Seed dispersal: Ross's sedge has heavy seed [108] with no long-distance seed dispersal [57].

Seed banking: Ross's sedge has soil-stored seed with long-term viability [63,64,95,97,98]. A study of seed banks in Yellowstone National Park found Ross's sedge present in densities greater than 100 seeds/mē [18]. Seed banks studied in central Idaho found Ross's sedge seed stored in soil of 38 out of 48 forested plots. Seeds were found at depths of 0 to 25 inches (0-10 cm) with overall seed viability of 51% [57].

Germination: No information is available on this topic.

Seedling establishment/growth: No information is available on this topic.

Vegetative regeneration: Ross's sedge regenerates from short horizontal or ascending rhizomes following disturbance [39,108]. According to Garrison and Rummell [35], however, the rhizomes are regenerative only when attached to a living plant; once severed they die. According to Steele and Geier-Hayes [95], Ross's sedge is nonrhizomatous, and "sprouts readily following scarification but responds poorly to burning" [95].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Ross's sedge has high winter hardiness [39] and is found in boreal, temperate, cool semi-arid, and cool mesothermal climates. The occurrence of Ross's sedge increases with increasing continentality and decreases with increasing precipitation [54]. With "very high" drought tolerance [39], Ross's sedge prefers dry sites [39,54,116] and may be considered characteristic of moisture deficient sites [54]. In the Pacific Northwest, Ross's sedge also grows on moist slopes [45,92].

Ross's sedge is common in moist to dry forests [5,43,45,82,110,111], open woods [29,30,41], grasslands [62,79,80], and meadows [14,27,29,30,41,43,45,82,111] in the western portion of its range. It is often found on rocky slopes, unstable screes, and steep banks [39,49,82]. Ross's sedge is common in open woodlands of the northern plains [36], while in Michigan, it grows on sandy or rocky bluffs and windswept crests [40,109].

Ross's sedge prefers well-drained [39,82], moderately dry to very dry, nitrogen-medium soils [54]. Soil textures range from sandy loam to clay loam. Ross's sedge can tolerate excessive soil compaction as well as unstable slopes. Ross's sedge will tolerate mildly saline soils and mildly alkaline to moderately acidic soils [39].

Ross's sedge grows on gentle to steep slopes [22]. The elevational occurrence of Ross's sedge ranges from near sea level to near timberline in the Pacific Northwest [45], and from submontane to subalpine and alpine sites in the Rocky Mountains [54,62,79,80,82,110,111].

Examples of elevation ranges for Ross's sedge by state
State Elevation
California up to 12,500 feet
(3,800 m) [43,83]
Colorado 5,800 to 11,500 feet
(1,770-3,500 m) [4,84]
Idaho 7,400 to 10,500 feet
(2,250-3,200 m) [4,94]
Nevada 7,000 to 10,500 feet
(2,130-3,200 m) [4,70]
Utah 4,400 to 11,300 feet
(1,340-3,445 m) [4,67,70,111,113]
Wyoming 6,500 to 10,500 feet
(1,980-3,200 m) [4,5,22,94]
Washington
(Mt. Rainier National Park)
3,500 to 6,500 feet
(1,070-1,980 m) [92]

The occurrence of Ross's sedge may decrease at higher elevations where snow persists longer into the growing season. A study in a Wyoming subalpine forest (elevation 10,000 feet (3,050 m)) found little or no Ross's sedge on sites where snow persisted past June 27 [55].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Ross's sedge is generally considered an early-seral species on disturbed sites [6,31,57,66,69,79,90,96,114] and has been described as an "aggressive pioneer" [39]. However, Ross's sedge is also found in developed or climax forest communities [2,4,19]. For example, Turner and others [106] described Ross's sedge in a 130 year-old lodgepole pine stand in Yellowstone National Park. A recent study of understory plant species composition in Wyoming found higher cover of Ross's sedge in 30- to 50-year-old clearcut stands than in adjacent mature (>100 years) coniferous forest established after wildfire, supporting descriptions that it is an early to mid-seral species [88].

Ross's sedge is present on sites during the first 10 years following severe fire [97]. It has been described as common following stand-replacing fire in Wyoming lodgepole pine [69] and was found on Douglas-fir and subalpine fir habitat types in Yellowstone in the first 5 years after fire [6]. Its presence in early successional vegetation after fire is due to regeneration from surviving rhizomes and soil-stored seed [15,16,32,77,91,96]. For more information, see Fire Adaptations. Ross's sedge often dominates the forb layer of early-successional forest vegetation [57] and is found in open forest stands [39,62]. Though Ross's sedge may occasionally occur on forest sites with moderate to heavy shade, it is generally shade intolerant [54,57], becoming less important and eventually eliminated as it is overtopped by taller plants [57]. Ross's sedge forms a dry grassland association in clearcuts or burned areas of montane and subalpine coniferous forests in Colorado. These early-seral communities eventually give way to reestablished canopy species (e.g., limber pine, lodgepole pine). Shade from the closing canopy reduces Ross's sedge abundance. If the forest is slow to develop, however, Ross's sedge grasslands may persist for decades or centuries [79].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Growth of Ross's sedge begins in spring. Flowering occurs during May and June [28].


FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Carex rossii
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Ross's sedge is a residual colonizer after fire [99] and has been described as fire-resistant [47,74,77,108], defined as having a greater than 65% chance that at least half of the population will survive or reestablish after fire [108]. It often increases after fires that do not consume the litter and duff layer or cause excessive soil heating [77,91,96]. Ross's sedge regenerates after fire from surviving rhizomes [15,16,32,77,91,96], approaching preburn coverage within 1 to 2 years [47,74]. Ross's sedge also reestablishes from seed stored in the duff and soil [77,91,96] that is stimulated by soil heating [15,16,32,50,63,91]. Even when Ross's sedge is not present in prefire vegetation, viable seed can remain stored in the soil until fire creates conditions favorable for germination [10].

Fire regimes: Ross's sedge is present in many different plant communities across a large portion of the United States. As a widespread understory species, it is subject to a wide range of fire regimes, and it is neither eliminated by fire nor dependent on fire. Frequent fires may increase frequency and cover of Ross's sedge due to increased vigor, rhizome extension, and seedling establishment following fire [10,61,108], and by creating openings and reducing shade.

The following table provides fire regime information that may be relevant to Ross's sedge:

Fire regime information on vegetation communities in which Ross's sedge may occur. For each community, fire regime characteristics are taken from the LANDFIRE Rapid Assessment Vegetation Models [59]. These vegetation models were developed by local experts using available literature, local data, and/or expert opinion as documented in the PDF file linked from each Potential Natural Vegetation Group listed below. Cells are blank where information is not available in the Rapid Assessment Vegetation Model.
Pacific Northwest California Southwest Great Basin Northern Rockies
Northern Great Plains Great Lakes
Pacific Northwest
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northwest Grassland
Bluebunch wheatgrass Replacement 47% 18 5 20
Mixed 53% 16 5 20
Idaho fescue grasslands Replacement 76% 40    
Mixed 24% 125    
Alpine and subalpine meadows and grasslands Replacement 68% 350 200 500
Mixed 32% 750 500 >1,000
Northwest Shrubland
Mountain big sagebrush (cool sagebrush) Replacement 100% 20 10 40
Northwest Woodland
Western juniper (pumice) Replacement 33% >1,000    
Mixed 67% 500    
Pine savannah (ultramafic) Replacement 7% 200 100 300
Surface or low 93% 15 10 20
Ponderosa pine Replacement 5% 200    
Mixed 17% 60    
Surface or low 78% 13    
Subalpine woodland Replacement 21% 300 200 400
Mixed 79% 80 35 120
Northwest Forested
Ponderosa pine (xeric) Replacement 37% 130    
Mixed 48% 100    
Surface or low 16% 300    
Dry ponderosa pine (mesic) Replacement 5% 125    
Mixed 13% 50    
Surface or low 82% 8    
Mixed conifer (southwestern Oregon) Replacement 4% 400    
Mixed 29% 50    
Surface or low 67% 22    
California mixed evergreen (northern California) Replacement 6% 150 100 200
Mixed 29% 33 15 50
Surface or low 64% 15 5 30
Lodgepole pine (pumice soils) Replacement 78% 125 65 200
Mixed 22% 450 45 85
Subalpine fir Replacement 81% 185 150 300
Mixed 19% 800 500 >1,000
Mixed conifer (eastside dry) Replacement 14% 115 70 200
Mixed 21% 75 70 175
Surface or low 64% 25 20 25
Mixed conifer (eastside mesic) Replacement 35% 200    
Mixed 47% 150    
Surface or low 18% 400    
Red fir Replacement 20% 400 150 400
Mixed 80% 100 80 130
Spruce-fir Replacement 84% 135 80 270
Mixed 16% 700 285 >1,000
California
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
California Grassland
Alpine meadows and barrens Replacement 100% 200 200 400
California Shrubland
Montane chaparral Replacement 34% 95    
Mixed 66% 50    
California Woodland
Ponderosa pine Replacement 5% 200    
Mixed 17% 60    
Surface or low 78% 13    
California Forested
Mixed conifer (North Slopes) Replacement 5% 250    
Mixed 7% 200    
Surface or low 88% 15 10 40
Mixed conifer (South Slopes) Replacement 4% 200    
Mixed 16% 50    
Surface or low 80% 10    
Aspen with conifer Replacement 24% 155 50 300
Mixed 15% 240    
Surface or low 61% 60    
Jeffrey pine Replacement 9% 250    
Mixed 17% 130    
Surface or low 74% 30    
Interior white fir (northeastern California) Replacement 47% 145    
Mixed 32% 210    
Surface or low 21% 325    
Red fir-white fir Replacement 13% 200 125 500
Mixed 36% 70    
Surface or low 51% 50 15 50
Red fir-western white pine Replacement 16% 250    
Mixed 65% 60 25 80
Surface or low 19% 200    
Sierra Nevada lodgepole pine (cold wet upper montane) Replacement 23% 150 37 764
Mixed 70% 50    
Surface or low 7% 500    
Sierra Nevada lodgepole pine (dry subalpine) Replacement 11% 250 31 500
Mixed 45% 60 31 350
Surface or low 45% 60 9 350
Southwest
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Southwest Grassland
Montane and subalpine grasslands Replacement 55% 18 10 100
Surface or low 45% 22    
Montane and subalpine grasslands with shrubs or trees Replacement 30% 70 10 100
Surface or low 70% 30    
Southwest Shrubland
Mountain sagebrush (cool sage) Replacement 75% 100    
Mixed 25% 300    
Gambel oak Replacement 75% 50    
Mixed 25% 150    
Mountain-mahogany shrubland Replacement 73% 75    
Mixed 27% 200    
Southwest Woodland
Pinyon-juniper (mixed fire regime) Replacement 29% 430    
Mixed 65% 192    
Surface or low 6% >1,000    
Pinyon-juniper (rare replacement fire regime) Replacement 76% 526    
Mixed 20% >1,000    
Surface or low 4% >1,000    
Ponderosa pine/grassland (Southwest) Replacement 3% 300    
Surface or low 97% 10    
Bristlecone-limber pine (Southwest) Replacement 67% 500    
Surface or low 33% >1,000    
Southwest Forested
Ponderosa pine-Gambel oak (southern Rockies and Southwest) Replacement 8% 300    
Surface or low 92% 25 10 30
Ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir (southern Rockies) Replacement 15% 460    
Mixed 43% 160    
Surface or low 43% 160    
Southwest mixed conifer (warm, dry with aspen) Replacement 7% 300    
Mixed 13% 150 80 200
Surface or low 80% 25 2 70
Southwest mixed conifer (cool, moist with aspen) Replacement 29% 200 80 200
Mixed 35% 165 35  
Surface or low 36% 160 10  
Aspen with spruce-fir Replacement 38% 75 40 90
Mixed 38% 75 40  
Surface or low 23% 125 30 250
Stable aspen without conifers Replacement 81% 150 50 300
Surface or low 19% 650 600 >1,000
Lodgepole pine (Central Rocky Mountains, infrequent fire) Replacement 82% 300 250 500
Surface or low 18% >1,000 >1,000 >1,000
Spruce-fir Replacement 96% 210 150  
Mixed 4% >1,000 35 >1,000
Great Basin
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Great Basin Grassland
Mountain meadow (mesic to dry) Replacement 66% 31 15 45
Mixed 34% 59 30 90
Great Basin Shrubland
Mountain big sagebrush Replacement 100% 48 15 100
Mountain big sagebrush with conifers Replacement 100% 49 15 100
Mountain sagebrush (cool sage) Replacement 75% 100    
Mixed 25% 300    
Montane chaparral Replacement 37% 93    
Mixed 63% 54    
Gambel oak Replacement 75% 50    
Mixed 25% 150    
Mountain shrubland with trees Replacement 22% 105 100 200
Mixed 78% 29 25 100
Curlleaf mountain-mahogany Replacement 31% 250 100 500
Mixed 37% 212 50  
Surface or low 31% 250 50  
Great Basin Woodland
Juniper and pinyon-juniper steppe woodland Replacement 20% 333 100 >1,000
Mixed 31% 217 100 >1,000
Surface or low 49% 135 100  
Ponderosa pine Replacement 5% 200    
Mixed 17% 60    
Surface or low 78% 13    
Great Basin Forested
Interior ponderosa pine Replacement 5% 161   800
Mixed 10% 80 50 80
Surface or low 86% 9 8 10
Ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir Replacement 10% 250   >1,000
Mixed 51% 50 50 130
Surface or low 39% 65 15  
Great Basin Douglas-fir (dry) Replacement 12% 90   600
Mixed 14% 76 45  
Surface or low 75% 14 10 50
Aspen with conifer (low to midelevation) Replacement 53% 61 20  
Mixed 24% 137 10  
Surface or low 23% 143 10  
Douglas-fir (warm mesic interior) Replacement 28% 170 80 400
Mixed 72% 65 50 250
Aspen with conifer (high elevation) Replacement 47% 76 40  
Mixed 18% 196 10  
Surface or low 35% 100 10  
Stable aspen-cottonwood, no conifers Replacement 31% 96 50 300
Surface or low 69% 44 20 60
Spruce-fir-pine (subalpine) Replacement 98% 217 75 300
Mixed 2% >1,000    
Aspen with spruce-fir Replacement 38% 75 40 90
Mixed 38% 75 40  
Surface or low 23% 125 30 250
Stable aspen without conifers Replacement 81% 150 50 300
Surface or low 19% 650 600 >1,000
Northern Rockies
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northern Rockies Grassland
Mountain grassland Replacement 60% 20 10  
Mixed 40% 30    
Northern Rockies Shrubland
Mountain shrub, nonsagebrush Replacement 80% 100 20 150
Mixed 20% 400    
Mountain big sagebrush steppe and shrubland Replacement 100% 70 30 200
Northern Rockies Woodland
Ancient juniper Replacement 100% 750 200 >1,000
Northern Rockies Forested
Ponderosa pine (Northern Great Plains) Replacement 5% 300    
Mixed 20% 75    
Surface or low 75% 20 10 40
Ponderosa pine (Northern and Central Rockies) Replacement 4% 300 100 >1,000
Mixed 19% 60 50 200
Surface or low 77% 15 3 30
Ponderosa pine (Black Hills, low elevation) Replacement 7% 300 200 400
Mixed 21% 100 50 400
Surface or low 71% 30 5 50
Ponderosa pine (Black Hills, high elevation) Replacement 12% 300    
Mixed 18% 200    
Surface or low 71% 50    
Ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir Replacement 10% 250   >1,000
Mixed 51% 50 50 130
Surface or low 39% 65 15  
Douglas-fir (xeric interior) Replacement 12% 165 100 300
Mixed 19% 100 30 100
Surface or low 69% 28 15 40
Douglas-fir (warm mesic interior) Replacement 28% 170 80 400
Mixed 72% 65 50 250
Douglas-fir (cold) Replacement 31% 145 75 250
Mixed 69% 65 35 150
Grand fir-Douglas-fir-western larch mix Replacement 29% 150 100 200
Mixed 71% 60 3 75
Western larch-lodgepole pine-Douglas-fir Replacement 33% 200 50 250
Mixed 67% 100 20 140
Grand fir-lodgepole pine-larch-Douglas-fir Replacement 31% 220 50 250
Mixed 69% 100 35 150
Persistent lodgepole pine Replacement 89% 450 300 600
Mixed 11% >1,000    
Whitebark pine-lodgepole pine (upper subalpine, Northern and Central Rockies) Replacement 38% 360    
Mixed 62% 225    
Lower subalpine lodgepole pine Replacement 73% 170 50 200
Mixed 27% 450 40 500
Lower subalpine (Wyoming and Central Rockies) Replacement 100% 175 30 300
Upper subalpine spruce-fir (Central Rockies) Replacement 100% 300 100 600
Northern Great Plains
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northern Plains Woodland
Oak woodland Replacement 2% 450    
Surface or low 98% 7.5
Northern Great Plains wooded draws and ravines Replacement 38% 45 30 100
Mixed 18% 94    
Surface or low 43% 40 10  
Great Lakes
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Great Lakes Woodland
Great Lakes pine barrens Replacement 8% 41 10 80
Mixed 9% 36 10 80
Surface or low 83% 4 1 20
Jack pine-open lands (frequent fire-return interval) Replacement 83% 26 10 100
Mixed 17% 125 10  
Great Lakes Forested
Great Lakes pine forest, jack pine Replacement 67% 50    
Mixed 23% 143    
Surface or low 10% 333
Pine-oak Replacement 19% 357    
Surface or low 81% 85    
Red pine-white pine (frequent fire) Replacement 38% 56    
Mixed 36% 60    
Surface or low 26% 84    
Red pine-white pine (less frequent fire) Replacement 30% 166    
Mixed 47% 105    
Surface or low 23% 220    
*Fire Severities:
Replacement=Any fire that causes greater than 75% top removal of a vegetation-fuel type, resulting in general replacement of existing vegetation; may or may not cause a lethal effect on the plants.
Mixed=Any fire burning more than 5% of an area that does not qualify as a replacement, surface, or low-severity fire; includes mosaic and other fires that are intermediate in effects.
Surface or low=Any fire that causes less than 25% upper layer replacement and/or removal in a vegetation-fuel class but burns 5% or more of the area [38,58].

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [98]:
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Tussock graminoid
Ground residual colonizer (on site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Carex rossii
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Ross's sedge is top-killed by fire [15,16,47,83].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No additional information is available on this topic.

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Ross's sedge sprouts from surviving rhizomes following fire [15,16,108] and is capable of responding rapidly to disturbance [17,69]: Regeneration to preburn levels can occur within 1 to 2 years [47]. Increased coverage of Ross's sedge occurs after most fires severe enough to heat but not completely consume the duff layer [9,13,15,16,32,50,50]. Ross's sedge frequency may also increase after fire [61].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Ross's sedge is commonly found in both prefire and postfire forest vegetation [101,102,103]. It may also occur on recently burned sites when it is not present in adjacent, unburned areas [72,73,76], suggesting postfire establishment from the soil seed bank. Establishment or re-establishment of Ross's sedge occurs quickly, and it is estimated to take 2 to 10 postfire years for Ross's sedge to return to prefire abundance (review by [108]). Following the Yellowstone fires of 1988, Ross's sedge was found in the first 2 postfire years [105], and Metzger and others [69] described it as "common" or "abundant" 2 years after a stand-replacing fire in a Wyoming lodgepole pine forest. Ross's sedge was also common on recent burns (postfire years 1-10) in a northern boreal forest in Saskatchewan [87]. Following an August wildfire in 1970 in ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests in north-central Washington, where Ross's sedge was "prominent" in the prefire vegetation, several study areas were fertilized and seeded with nonnative grasses and forbs [103,104]. Native species, including Ross's sedge, retained dominance during the first 4 postfire years (duration of the study period). Ross'ss sedge cover averaged across 4 watersheds (3 seeded, 1 unseeded) indicated a steady increase from 0.1% in postfire year 1, to 0.7% in postfire year 4 [104].

Studies of the Yellowstone fires of 1988 examined vegetation on burned areas in the first 3 postfire years. Ross's sedge sprouted from rhizomes following the fires, and sprout density did not change significantly during the study period. Ross's sedge sprouts were most abundant in large (500-3600 ha) burned patches, but were also found in small (1 ha) and moderate-sized (70-200 ha) patches. Ross's sedge was present in unburned stands and sprouted on sites where light-surface (soil organic matter largely intact), severe-surface (soil organic matter completely consumed), and crown fires (canopy needles consumed) had burned [106].

While Steele and Geier-Hayes [95] suggest that Ross's sedge may respond poorly to burning, several studies indicate that it is unchanged or increases in early postfire succession after prescribed burning. Biomass of Ross's sedge was significantly (P=0.015) greater on burned (11.4 kg/ha) vs. unburned (7.2 kg/ha) plots 5 to 6 years after low-severity prescribed spring underburning in central Oregon ponderosa pine stands. Cover was slightly, but not significantly, higher on burned sites [17]:

Percent cover of Ross's sedge following understory burning in ponderosa pine stands, central Oregon [17]
Sample date Burn Control
Preburn 1.0 0.8
Year 2 1.3 0.8
Years 5-6 2.5 1.6

Arno [7,8] found percent cover of Ross's sedge increased following prescribed fire treatments on both "wet" and "dry" burns (based on moisture content of duff and large woody fuels).

Average percent cover by burn treatment for Ross's sedge in the shelterwood cutting unit at Lick Creek, Montana [8]
Burn treatment Pretreatment Postfire year 1 Postfire year 2 Postfire year 3 Postfire year 4
No burn 0.5 0.8 0.8 1.1 1.1
Low consumption burn ("wet burn") 0.7 1.3 1.9 1.9 2.1
High consumption burn ("dry burn") 0.5 1.3 2.0 2.9 2.7

Effects of timber harvest and prescribed fire: Ross's sedge tends to increase after timber harvest, particularly after burning of postharvest residue [85,89,96,115,116]. Prescribed burning of shelterwood-harvested units in northern and central Idaho mixed conifer stands compared "moist" and "dry" burns, based primarily on fuel moisture content (duff moisture ~90% and ~40%, respectively) and on season of burning (spring and fall, respectively). Ross's sedge increased on these sites through a combination of seedling establishment and rhizome stimulation following shelterwood cutting with and without prescribed burning [89].

Percent cover of Ross's sedge following understory burning in northern and central Idaho shelterwood-harvest units [89]
Site Sample date No burn Spring "moist" burn
(duff moisture ~90%; 15%-30% duff consumed)
Fall "dry" burn
(duff moisture ~40%; 43%-90% duff consumed)
Northern ID mixed conifer Preburn 0.7 0.5 0.7
Postfire year 1 1.3 2.5 3.9
Central ID ponderosa pine
Preburn 0.0 0.1 0.3
Postfire year 1 1.3 --* 1.3
Postfire year 2 -- -- --
Postfire year 3 3.6 8.4 6.6
Postfire year 5 -- -- --
Postfire year 6 6.8 -- 11.2
*-- indicates data were not collected on that site on those dates

Clearcutting in a grand fir-Oregon boxwood (Abies grandis-Paxistima myrsinites) habitat type of north-central Idaho followed by broadcast burning of harvest residue found Ross's sedge was prevalent on all sites in the 1-year age class, though it was dominant in the understory of only 2 of the 10 stands. After 3 years, percent cover of Ross's sedge in stands increased 2 to 10 times that of first year coverage. Frequency changed little, however, indicating the increase in cover was not the result of new recruitment. The vegetation trend over the first 3 years was toward Ross's sedge dominance. By year 8, dominance of Ross's sedge was decreasing, with shrubs becoming dominant on most sites, though Ross's sedge may continue to dominate on drier, low elevation sites. Ross's sedge was rare on sites 23 years after clearcutting and burning [115,116]. A study by Metlen and others [68] in ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir stands in Montana found that Ross's sedge showed no response to either thinning treatments or burn treatments; however, it increased following a combination of thinning and burning. For more information on this study, see the Research Project Summary.

Lyon's Research Paper also provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant species including Ross's sedge.

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
In areas where Ross's sedge occurs or has occurred in the past, it typically persists or establishes on burned sites after both prescribed burns and wildfires. Ross's sedge sprouts and may also establish from the soil seed bank after fire. It is likely to remain unchanged or increase in biomass and cover in early postfire succession after fires of any severity. Ross's sedge is likely to remain unchanged or increase after timber harvest with or without fire. However, prescribed burning after harvest is more likely to increase percent cover of Ross's sedge.


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Carex rossii
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Ross's sedge is important summer elk forage, particularly in the first half of the growing season [14,56,65]. Grizzly bears also eat Ross's sedge [25] , and sedges (Carex spp.) are often important winter forage for mountain goats [1].

Palatability/nutritional value: Ross's sedge may be a poor to good forage plant depending on the site [39,62]. Palatability of Ross's sedge has been rated "fair" for domestic sheep, horses, cattle, and small mammals. It has been rated "good" for elk and "poor" for mule deer, white-tailed deer, and pronghorn [28].

In a study of seasonal nutrition trends in Oregon, grasses such as Thurber needlegrass (Achnatherum thurberianum), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha) exceed Ross's sedge in protein, phosphorus, calcium, crude fat, and apparent digestibility in early spring. Crude fiber is high in March for Ross's sedge. As the growing season progresses through summer and into fall, Ross's sedge nutritional value increases to surpass the grasses in protein, calcium, crude fat, and apparent digestibility [44]. A Wenatchee National Forest, Washington study found oven-dry crude protein production of Ross's sedge ranged from 0 to 3.9 pounds per acre (4.4 kg/ha). This study also found that crude protein production of Ross's sedge on burned sites was more than double the production on unburned sites [14].

Cover value: Dittberner and Olson [28] rate Ross's sedge cover as poor for large game and fair for nongame birds and small mammals.

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Ross's sedge has been rated as "highly persistent" when used for reclamation. The extensive root system and ability to establish and persist on unstable as well as compacted soils make Ross's sedge an excellent soil builder with good erosion control capability [39]. Ross's sedge may establish from either transplants or seed. An Oregon study of campsite rehabilitation found that Ross's sedge had 100% transplant survival over 7 years, and transplants increased substantially in both height and area [21]. Following a road-building project, Ross's sedge dominated unseeded disturbed areas [64].

A greenhouse study found a greater number of Ross's sedge seedlings emerged from heated soil samples than from unheated soil samples [100].

OTHER USES:
No information is available on this topic.

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Ross's sedge productivity increases when ponderosa pine stands are thinned [12]. A study of clearcutting in a Colorado subalpine forest found Ross's sedge present on sites both before and after logging operations. Data were presented for sedges in general, and on some sites sedge cover significantly (P=0.05) increased in the 5 years after logging [24]. Ross's sedge often invades sites or increases in coverage following mechanical scarification [9,66,77]. However, Ross's sedge may also be susceptible to damage during logging operations because rhizomes can be displaced by log skidding [35].

Cole's [20] study of trampling and vegetation response found that Ross's sedge was resistant to trampling, primarily due to its cespitose growth form. The low matting habit and extensive root system may allow Ross's sedge to withstand moderate to severe grazing pressure [39].


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