Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Muhlenbergia montana

Introductory

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A. 1995. Muhlenbergia montana. 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/ []. ABBREVIATION : MUHMON SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : MUMO COMMON NAMES : mountain muhly TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of mountain muhly is Muhlenbergia montana (Nutt.) A. S. Hitchc. [16,34,40,42,82]. It is in the family Poaceae. There are no currently accepted infrataxa. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Mountain muhly occurs from Montana and Wyoming to western Texas and south through Mexico to Guatemala.  It extends west through Utah and Arizona.  It is also found in northern and Sierra Nevadan California [16,25,34,40,42,46]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES40  Desert grasslands STATES :      AZ  CA  CO  MT  NM  TX  UT  WY  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     4  Sierra Mountains     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland    K031  Oak - juniper woodlands    K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub    K054  Grama - tobosa prairie    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass SAF COVER TYPES :    206  Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir    210  Interior Douglas-fir    220  Rocky Mountain juniper    234  Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone    237  Interior ponderosa pine    239  Pinyon-juniper    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    244  Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir    247  Jeffrey pine    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :    209  Montane shrubland    210  Bitterbrush    314  Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass    322  Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass    401  Basin big sagebrush    403  Wyoming big sagebrush    409  Tall forb    412  Juniper-pinyon woodland    413  Gambel oak    415  Curlleaf mountain-mahogany    416  True mountain-mahogany    420  Snowbrush    504  Juniper-pinyon pine woodland    509  Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mountain muhly is an indicator or dominant species in the following published classifications: Classification of the forest vegetation of Colorado by habitat type   and community type [2]  Classification of the forest vegetation on the National Forests of   Arizona and New Mexico [3] Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of Arizona south   of the Mogollon Rim and southwestern New Mexico [7] A classification of forest habitat types of northern New Mexico and   southern Colorado [22] Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola   National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico [28] Forest vegetation of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in   central Colorado: a habitat type classification [39]. Forest vegetation of the Gunnison and parts of the Uncompahgre National   Forests: a preliminary habitat type classification [48] Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of northern New   Mexico and northern Arizona [51] A forest habitat type classification of southern Arizona and its   relationship to forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico [59] Coniferous forest habitat types of central and southern Utah [84]

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : In Arizona mountain muhly is an important range species with high forage value for cattle [14,46,52]; it is most valuable for grazing during the summer rainy period, when it is growing [6]. On ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges in northern Arizona, mountain muhly was the third most utilized grass in a study of relative cattle preference for various forage species.  Mountain muhly was grazed 31 percent; only Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratense) and Arizona fescue (Festuca arizonica) were more heavily grazed [14]. In Colorado mountain muhly is an important forage species in ponderosa pine forests [38].  In the eastern Intermountain West, mountain muhly provides considerable forage for cattle [16]. In central Colorado cattle preference for forage species was measured on ponderosa pine/bunchgrass range during the spring-summer-fall grazing season.  Mountain muhly percent of dried rumen samples was [17]:             May     June     July     Aug.     Sept.     Nov. Percent     3.5     2.7      0.0      0.8      3.9       10.5   In Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, mountain muhly was a principal winter elk food in xeric grasslands, in ponderosa pine-shrub habitats, and in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) areas [43]. PALATABILITY : In Arizona mountain muhly is a valuable forage plant because of its abundance rather than because of high palatability.  It is grazed most readily when the plants are actively growing [44]. In Colorado mountain muhly is one of the more palatable bunchgrasses for cattle.  However, it becomes less palatable as it matures [38] unless fully grazed throughout the growing season [82]. In Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, mountain muhly forage palatability has been rated good for cattle and horses and fair to good for sheep [23]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Mountain muhly energy value is rated good.  Its protein value is rated poor [23].  In Colorado and Utah, mountain muhly food values were listed as good for elk, fair for mule deer, small mammals, and small nongame birds, and poor for pronghorn and waterfowl [23]. Mountain muhly nutrition and digestibility have been described for Arizona ponderosa pine/bunchgrass range.  Mountain muhly nutritional components and digestibility when growing in the open and under a timber overstory were as follows [14]:                                  Open     Timbered        Nutritional Components (%)               Crude Protein       6.8       6.1               Phosphorus          0.20      0.18               Ash                 8.4       8.0      Digestibility (%)           50.9      47.6 Mountain muhly percent digestible dry matter at the beginning of each month was as follows [64]:                                   Digestible Dry Matter (%)             June                            47             July                            49             August                          55             September (beginning)           52             September (middle)              55  COVER VALUE : In Utah the cover value of mountain muhly for wildlife has been rated as good for small mammals, fair for upland game birds and small nongame birds, and poor for waterfowl [23]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Mountain muhly has potential for use in land reclamation [82]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Response to disturbance - Mountain muhly is a decreaser in response to trampling and heavy grazing [6,45,55,56].  In Rocky Mountain National Park mountain muhly had significantly less cover at the edge of hiking trails than in the forest interior, where it was not heavily disturbed [8].  Mountain muhly is considered a key indicator of range condition in Cochise County, Arizona.  Allowable stubble heights and volume removal to maintain satisfactory range condition are given [20]. On Arizona [14] and Colorado [45] ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges, overgrazing causes mountain muhly to decline and be replaced by sod-forming grasses.  In Zion National Park, Utah, mountain muhly was quite rare on a grazed plateau and was restricted to the southern third of the plateau where grazing pressure had been lightest due to earlier fencing.  It was a common component of the surface vegetation on nearby isolated, ungrazed mesas [53]. In a northern Arizona study of exclosures established in 1912 and monitored until 1942, mountain muhly showed greatest increase on unshaded, ungrazed quadrats.  On excessively grazed ranges, openings between trees completely lacked mountain muhly.  Where scattered trees provided some protection against grazing, mountain muhly occurred as isolated "islands" [6].  In central Colorado ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges, mountain muhly formed an increasingly larger percentage of grass cover as the intensity of grazing use was reduced.  It varied from an average of 20 percent of composition on heavily grazed areas to 45 percent on those not grazed.  Ungrazed plants produced 10 to 12 times more seedstalks than plants that were heavily grazed [45]. On central Colorado ponderosa pine/bunchgrass range, grazing impacts were monitored from 1940 until 1957.  Of the perennial grasses on the experimental sites, mountain muhly was the most important forage producer.  It remained widely distributed regardless of rates of grazing, but cover was affected by grazing level.  In grassland cover types, mountain muhly cover increased more than 50 percent between 1940 and 1957 on lightly utilized areas; it decreased about 35 percent under moderate use; and 63 percent under heavy use.  Its density was greatest inside grassland exclosures protected since 1940 [76]. In a Colorado study morphological differences between long-term grazed and ungrazed mountain muhly largely disappeared within the first growing season following cessation of grazing [13,68].  However, on central Colorado ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges, mountain muhly which had been grazed at 70 percent for at least 7 years took 3 years for leaf lengths and number and height of flowerstalks to recover after protection from grazing [76]. In central Colorado mountain muhly makes its main growth later than Arizona fescue, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and sun sedge (Carex heliophila), and is grazed later.  On Arizona ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges, mountain muhly receives heavier use than Arizona fescue later in the growing season [76]. Mountain muhly on depleted ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges in central Colorado increased significantly (p<.01) when fertilized with 50 pounds (22.7 kg) each of elemental nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium per acre during May 1968.  Dry weight yields increased under all grazing levels [19]. Effects on tree regeneration - In central Arizona mountain muhly competed with ponderosa pine seedlings for water.  Mountain muhly roots grew faster than seedling ponderosa pine roots; mountain muhly was more drought tolerant than ponderosa pine seedlings.  During rain following spring drought, mountain muhly roots took up water faster and more completely and depleted soil moisture to lower levels than did ponderosa pine roots.  Established ponderosa pines were able to tolerate competition for moisture by mountain muhly [50]. In the Southwest herbicides have been used to reduce grass competition with ponderosa pine seedlings.  Ponderosa pine survival 1 year after planting on a site occupied by mountain muhly and Arizona fescue was greater than 94 percent when the grasses were killed with dalapon.  The success was probably enhanced by the dead grasses serving as mulch [37]. Extracts of mountain muhly green foliage and dead residues reduced germination and growth of ponderosa pine [71] and yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) [72].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Mountain muhly is a native, perennial, warm-season bunchgrass [6,23]. Culms are branched at the base [82] and densely tufted [40,60]; they are usually erect and 4 to 32 inches (10-80 cm) tall [16,34,40,82].  Leaves are mostly basal and densely clustered; there are also some culm leaves [16,82].  Leaf blades are 2 to 10 inches (5-25 cm) long [16,34,82]. Leaf sheaths become papery and loose from the culm [38] and are persistent, often becoming flattened with age [82].  The inflorescence is a narrow, oblong, erect or nodding panicle 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) long [16,34,40]; the branches are 0.4 to 3.5 inches (1-9 cm) long, and erect to moderately spreading [82].  Spikelets are one flowered [16]. Lemma awns are 0.24 to 0.79 inch (6-20 mm) long [16,34,40].  The fruit is a caryopsis [34]. Mountain muhly has fibrous roots [10].  In a variety of soils, 15 percent of mountain muhly roots were in the first 3 feet (.91 m) of soil, and 58 percent were in the first 6 feet (1.83 m).  The deepest roots were 9 feet deep (2.74 m) [29]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Mountain muhly reproduces by seed [16].  It can also reproduce vegetatively by tillering, and sometimes spreads slowly by this method [80]. On western Colorado ponderosa pine ranges, mountain muhly seedstalk production is abundant in normal growing seasons [15]. In central Arizona mountain muhly sometimes retains its seeds into the winter months [80]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Mountain muhly is found in dry to moist sites [23,82], but it requires excellent drainage [40].  It is found in grassy parklands, on slopes and foothills [16,20,82], on rocky, dry hillsides [24,25,34], and in canyons and on mesas [34,38,46].  In Arizona it is the principal grass on dry forested ranges between meadows [44]. Mountain muhly usually occurs on coarse to loamy soils, although it sometimes occurs on clays.  In Arizona mountain muhly grows on stony clayey loam [4], sandy loam developed from basaltic parent material [27], gravelly loam with a broken surface of volcanic rock, gravelly sandy loams of both limestone and sandstone origin, and red clay [6]. In California mountain muhly grows on granitic rock outcrops [40].  In Colorado mountain muhly grows on gravelly sandy loam, stony loam developed from limestone, fine loose sand from disintegrating sandstone, [10], and infertile, coarse-textured soil with little profile development [33].  In Utah mountain muhly grows on basaltic stony loams [63].  Mountain muhly grows poorly on acidic and saline soils [23]. In central Arizona mountain muhly grows where precipitation occurs mainly during winter and late summer [4].  Annual maximum precipitation occurs from July through September; a secondary period occurs from December through March.  Fall and late spring months are usually arid [20].  Annual precipitation ranges from 17 to 25 inches (430-640 mm). In Colorado about two-thirds of the annual precipitation, which averages 15.9 inches (404 mm), falls during the April through September growing season [33]. Mountain muhly is reported at the following elevations:                       Feet            Meters Arizona           4,000-9,203       1,219-2,805    [5,12,20,27,46] California        4,500-11,220      1,372-3,420    [40,60] Colorado          5,500-10,400      1,676-3,170    [10,23,34] Montana           2,650-6,000         808-1,829    [36,74] New Mexico        5,387-11,100      1,642-3,383    [1,29,56] Texas                 7,500             2,286      [41] Utah              6,004-10,810      1,830-3,295    [82,84] Wyoming               7,300             2,225      [23] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Mountain muhly occurs in seral and climax communities.  On ponderosa pine/bunchgrass ranges of the central Rocky Mountains, the Arizona fescue-mountain muhly stage is seral to ponderosa pine-fir forest [18]. In ponderosa pine/bunchgrass forests of Arizona and New Mexico, mountain muhly declines in the successional sequence that follows complete fire suppression [58]. Mountain muhly grows best in full sun [40].  In northern Arizona mountain muhly declines as shade from ponderosa pine increases [6].  In central Colorado mountain muhly declines with litter accumulation and increased shading by young trees [33]. In parklike stands and openings in ponderosa pine forests of Arizona, mountain muhly and other bunchgrasses develop into dense, exclusive communities that resist penetration by other species, including ponderosa pine [71]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Mountain muhly grows during the spring and summer months [38].  Mountain muhly becomes semidormant if there is midsummer drought [64].  In northern Arizona the start of mountain muhly growth is related to the time of spring thaw, which begins when maximum air temperatures attain 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 deg C).  This temperature is usually achieved about the beginning of March [65]. On northern Arizona ponderosa pine/bunchgrass range, mountain muhly was measured during the snow-free months from 1963 through 1965.  Overwinter green height of mountain muhly was less than 1.3 inches (3.3 cm). Mountain muhly peak growth was during July and August; extent of growth appeared to be closely related to precipitation during those months. Mountain muhly ceased growing during September.  Phenological development of mountain muhly was as follows [65]:                         1963          1964          1965     Heads showing      Sept. 5       Sept. 4       Aug. 15     Flowers in bloom   Sept. 25      Sept. 24      Sept. 7     Seeds mature       Oct. 10       Oct. 6        Sept. 27 Mountain muhly flowering times are:          Arizona              August-September   [46]          California           June-August        [60]          Colorado             July-September     [23,68]          Wyoming              July-September     [23]          Intermountain West   July-September     [16]

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Mountain muhly may sprout after aerial portions are burned.  It is densely tufted [40,60] and old sheath bases are persistent [82]; they may protect basal buds from fire damage.  On the other hand, in hot dry conditions the dead litter of a mountain muhly plant can produce a hot fire which may damage or kill the plant [81]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tussock graminoid

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Mountain muhly culms and leaves are probably killed by fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Mountain muhly density generally decreases from prefire values during the first few years after fire [31,62], but it may increase over original values thereafter [4].  Mountain muhly usually takes at least 3 years to fully recover from fire [31].  However, after prescribed fire in central Arizona, mountain muhly had recovered prefire biomass within 10 months [35]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : In central Arizona mountain muhly was sampled in September 1981, on sites that previously had been prescribed burned in ponderosa pine pole timber and mature stands.  Thinning treatments and grazing management varied from site to site.  All burned sites were matched with similar, unburned controls.  The following mountain muhly production (kg/ha) means were reported [4]; standard errors are in parentheses:                          Ponderosa Pine Pole Stands                  2 yr burn         5 yr Burn         7 yr burn Burn            0.21 (0.06)*      0.60 (0.22)       4.56 (1.06)* Control         1.60 (0.82)*      0.28 (0.12)       1.22 (0.38)*                            Mature Ponderosa Pine Stands Burn            0.88 (0.30)       0.16 (0.15)       0.84 (0.27) Control         8.24 (4.20)       0.10 (0.05)       0.67 (0.20) * Indicates significant difference (p<.05) between burn and control. In 2-year-old burns, mountain muhly production was less than on control sites.  In 5- and 7-year-old burns, mountain muhly production was greater than on control sites [4]. In central Arizona mountain muhly occurred on an area that was prescribed burned October 18 and 19, 1977.  Mountain muhly density was sampled before the fire, in 1974, and again after the fire, in 1980. Backfires and short strip headfires were used; estimates of fuel consumption ranged from 50 to 75 percent.  Most ponderosa pine regeneration was not killed.  Mountain muhly density was 1.01 stems per square meter in 1974.  In 1980, after the fire, stem density was zero [62]. In central Arizona mountain muhly biomass and nutrient concentrations were measured during the first growing season after burning on plots in a ponderosa pine/Arizona fescue habitat type.  The stand had been unburned since a fire in 1876.  The overstory consisted of uneven-aged ponderosa pine distributed in even-aged groups of mature trees, poles, or saplings.  Mountain muhly was dominant in the herbaceous vegetation within openings.  Controlled burning occurred in November 1976.  The fire consumed surface needles on 94 percent of the area, and exposed mineral soil on 16 percent of the area.  Fuels less than 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter were reduced 63 percent.  Fuel reduction was greatest under mature trees, where fuel loads were heaviest; it was intermediate in pole stands, and least in sapling stands.  Mountain muhly standing crop was sampled on 11 burned and 7 unburned plots during June and September of postfire year 1.  Mountain muhly standing crop and measured nutrient concentrations (% oven-dry weight) were as follows 7 months after fire [35]:                                     June 1977              Mature Timber             Pole                Sapling            Unburned   Burned     Unburned   Burned     Unburned   Burned Standing        Crop            (kg/ha)     3.97     3.26         2.18*    0.47         0.26     2.09 N  (%)        0.99     1.19         1.02*    1.31         1.07     1.15 P  (%)        0.25*    0.35         0.28*    0.34         0.27     0.32 K  (%)        0.69*    0.82         0.68*    0.82         0.62*    0.82 Ca (%)        0.13*    0.18         0.14*    0.19         0.14*    0.18 Mg (%)        0.10*    0.14         0.12     0.14         0.12     0.12 * Indicates significant difference (p<.05) between burned and unburned     sites within a stratum. By 10 months after fire, no significant differences in standing crop were found between unburned and burned plots, and few significant differences in nutrient concentrations persisted [35]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Mountain muhly is a principal grass in some ponderosa pine/grass types where recurring fires have maintained savanna.  In north-central Arizona mountain muhly will usually carry surface fires in November, and perhaps during the winter and spring [11]. In the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona, decades of fire protection have resulted in many ponderosa pine stands with a dense undergrowth of ponderosa pine saplings.  In the 1960's, an inventory of ponderosa pine stands burned within the past few decades revealed that those burned by lightning-caused fires, which occur at a relatively high frequency in the range, were primarily open and parklike, with an herb layer dominated by mountain muhly.  However, intensity of a major incendiary fire was so severe that it killed all ponderosa pines in the stand and enhanced development of oak (Quercus spp.) scrub, which shaded out mountain muhly [61]. In ponderosa pine/bunchgrass forests in Arizona and New Mexico, fires applied every decade to reduce fuel and thin tree seedlings will maintain ponderosa pine/bunchgrass savanna [58].

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A., compiler. 1995. Effects of prescribed fires on mountain muhly on the Fort Valley Experimental Forest, Arizona. In: Muhlenbergia montana. 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/ []. REFERENCES : Vose, James M.; White, Alan S. 1991. Biomass response mechanisms of understory species the first year after prescribed burning in an Arizona ponderosa-pine community. Forest Ecology and Management. 40: 175-187. [81]. White, Alan S.; Cook, James E.; Vose, James M. 1991. Effects of fire and stand structure on grass phenology in a ponderosa pine forest. American Midland Naturalist. 126(2): 269-278. [83]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : fall/moderate in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) sawtimber stands fall/severe in ponderosa pine pole stands STUDY LOCATION : Prescribed fires were conducted at the Fort Valley Experimental Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona. PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : The ponderosa pine overstory occurred in three kinds of spatially distinct patches.  Sawtimber patches had average dbh of 25 inches (63 cm) and density of 49 trees per acre (120 trees/ha).  There was a thick accumulation of litter 12 to 20 inches (30-50 cm) beneath the canopies of sawtimber trees; between canopies, openings received full sunlight and had minimal litter accumulation.  Pole patches had average dbh of 6 inches (15 cm) and density of 700 trees per acre (1,730 trees/ha). Sapling patches had average dbh of 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) and density of 4,075 trees per acre (10,070 trees/ha).  The groundlayer was heavily shaded in sapling patches because of high tree density.  Understory grasses were mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana), Fendler bluegrass (Poa fendleriana), and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides). Shrubs included Fendler's ceanothus (Ceanothus fendleri) and Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii var. ultramontana). TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : Not given. SITE DESCRIPTION : The study site is at 6,890 feet (2,100 m) elevation.  Soil is stony clay loam.  Annual precipitation averages 19.7 inches (500 mm).  There is pronounced drought in May and June, frequent rain in July and August, and scattered snowfall and rain in winter.  Prior to prescribed burning, the site was relatively undisturbed, with no evidence of grazing.  The study area was fenced in 1982, prior to plot establishment, to prevent future livestock grazing. FIRE DESCRIPTION : Fire history of the study area suggests that fires occurred at approximately 2-year intervals until the late 1800's, after which fires were excluded until the time of the study.  Ungrazed ponderosa pine stands were prescribed burned on 2 consecutive days in late October 1982.  Mean air temperatures were 64 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 14 deg C).  Relative humidity was 21 percent on both days.  Backfires were used on sawtimber patches; both back- and headfires were used on pole and sapling patches.  Fires were restricted to the understory and little immediate damage to overstory trees was apparent.  Using heat-yield data and observations, fire severity in the burned patches was ranked:  below-canopy sawtimber sites > pole > sapling > open-canopy sawtimber sites.  On below-canopy sawtimber sites, fires consumed 95 percent of the fuel load and smoldered for several days.  Fire behavior was as follows:                          Open-ST    Below-ST     Pole       Sapling Intensity (kW/m)         Backfires                 5         NA           14          17    Headfires                NA         NA          346         294 Rate of spread (m/min)    Backing fires             0.2       NA            0.2         0.3    Head fires               NA         NA            4.5         7.6 Total heat yield    (kJ/sq m)             1,600         NA       42,082      15,866 Fuel load (Mg/ha)           17.1      145.9         46.2        30.5 Fuel Consumption, %         25         95           55          33 Note:  Open sawtimber (Open-ST); below-canopy sawtimber (Below-ST); not        available (NA) FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : Mountain muhly was common on the experimental sites before and after the prescribed fires.  From mid-September through October 1982, prior to burning, mountain muhly cover was estimated on burn sites and control sites in below-canopy sawtimber, open sawtimber, pole, and sapling stands.  Postfire inventory was conducted from mid-October to mid-November 1983, on all sites.  Mountain muhly cover and biomass on control sites were similar in 1982 and 1983.  Mountain muhly average percent cover was lower on burned sites in 1983 due to high mortality, no increased growth of surviving plants, and almost no seedling recruitment.  Mountain muhly biomass was significantly (p<.05) lower on burned plots than on control plots on open sawtimber sites and on pole sites; biomass analysis in below-canopy sites and sapling patches was not possible. Mountain muhly seedling recruitment was monitored under burned and unburned conditions.  Seed rain was monitored for a full year after burning.  Mountain muhly total seed rain for 1 year was 81 seeds per square meter on burned open sawtimber sites and 27 seeds per square meter on unburned open sawtimber sites.  There was no mountain muhly seed rain in closed-canopy sawtimber, pole, or sapling stands.  No mountain muhly seeds germinated in greenhouse tests of buried seed.  A very few mountain muhly seedlings appeared on burned, open timber sites (0.1 seedling/sq m), but none appeared at other burned sites.  It appears that buried seed is not important in contributing new seedlings after burning. Mountain muhly flowering response was measured in ponderosa pine sawtimber (closed-canopy and open-canopy combined) and pole patches. Sapling patches were not measured.  Only plants that had occurred on the sites prior to burning were monitored.  Mountain muhly failed to flower the first year after burning on both the ponderosa pine sawtimber and pole patches.  During the second year, no significant differences in mountain muhly flowering existed between burned sawtimber and pole patches and their controls.  The percentage of mountain muhly plants producing seeds the second year was approximately the same in burned and unburned areas.  Percent of mountain muhly plants that reached flowering stage each year was as follows:                            Plants Flowering (%)                    Pole                     Sawtimber             Burned     Unburned         Burned     Unburned     1983      0*          38              0*           54     1984     25           33             42            33 * Indicates significant difference (p<.05) between burned and unburned     sites.   FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Mountain muhly cover and biomass decrease in response to fire, and flowering is suppressed for 1 postfire year.

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A., compiler. 1995. Effects of prescribed fires on mountain muhly in the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Arizona: Fuel, timber and forage effects. In: Muhlenbergia montana. 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/ []. REFERENCES : Gaines, Edward M.; Kallander, Harry R.; Wagner, Joe A. 1958. Controlled burning in southwestern ponderosa pine: results from the Blue Mountain plots, Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Journal of Forestry. 56: 323-327. [31]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : spring/moderate STUDY LOCATION : Prescribed fires were carried out on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation 7 miles (11 km) east of McNary, Arizona. PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : Prefire vegetation was in uneven-aged variable density ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stands with open grassy glades which included mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana), with cover of about 70 percent, and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides). TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : Not given. SITE DESCRIPTION : The study site is at an elevation of 7,400 feet (2,256 m).  The ground is flat, and the soil is "rather heavy."  The area was selectively logged in 1924. Grass density was low because of the relatively dense trees.  Forage was similar on all plots. FIRE DESCRIPTION : There were six burned plots and six unburned control plots in a ponderosa pine habitat type.  Three plots were burned September 30, 1950; another three were burned October 10, 1950. Average fuel weights before burning (in tons per acre) were as follows:                             Control     September      October          Size of Fuel        Plots      Burn Plots    Burn Plots     Large (diam. > 12 in)     4.49         8.00*         3.73*     Medium (2-11 in. diam.)   3.81         3.08          1.40     Small (< 2 in. diam.)     6.94         6.21          4.83     Total                    15.24        17.29**        9.96** *  Difference between September and October plots significant (p<.05). ** Difference between September and October plots significant (p<.01). Small fuels included needles, dead grass, cones, and partly rotted wood. Weather conditions were different on the 2 burning days, and the effects of the fires were markedly different.  The September fire was conducted from 10:00 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.  Air temperature was 59 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-19 deg C).  Relative humidity was 62 to 37 percent.  Fuel moisture was 14.0 to 11.6 percent.  Wind velocity was 18 to 25 miles per hour (29-40 km/hr).  A light shower fell during burning of two of the three plots, and 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) rain fell after 6:00 pm, cooling the site. The October fire was conducted from 12:00 m. to 3:30 p.m.  Air temperature was 73 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23-24 deg C).  Relative humidity was 19 to 17 percent.  Fuel moisture was 10.0 to 8.5 percent. Wind velocity was 3 to 12 mph (5-19 km/hr).  Wind was variable and gusty, causing spot blowups during burning. The effect of the fires on surface fuel weight was as follows:                            Percent Change                  September Fire        October Fire         Large        -63*                  -74*         Medium       -62*                  +83*         Small        -48                   -51         Total        -57                   -40 * Difference between September and October fires significant (p<.05). Reduction of heavy fuel by the October fire was partially offset by an increase in medium fuel.  Both fires raised the lower level of tree crowns in sapling thickets and killed almost all trees less than 3 or 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m). FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : Mountain muhly was reduced on all burned plots the first year after burning, as were other grasses.  Two years later mountain muhly comprised about 60 percent of total grass density, 10 percent less than prefire levels. FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Mountain muhly usually declines the first growing season after fire.  It usually does not regain its former cover until at least 3 years after fire.

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Muhlenbergia montana
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