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Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
Contact Information
  • Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
  • 333 Broadway SE. Suite 115
  • Albuquerque, NM 87102-3497
  • 505-724-3660
  • 505-724-3688 (fax)
You are here: Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems / Research by Project / Invasive Plant Response to Disturbance

Invasive Plant Response to Disturbance

Project Title

Invasive Plant Response to Disturbance on the Black Hills National Forest


The ponderosa pine forest ecosystem of the Black Hill historically evolved under a disturbance regime of fire, mountain pine beetles, wind, and harsh winters. In the absence of the periodic natural fire regime, fuels accumulated and ultimately resulted in a large, catastrophic wildfire. The Jasper fire was the largest fire in the history of the management of the Black Hills National Forest, with a total of 83,500 acres burned in August 2000. Plots were placed throughout the burned area to detect patterns of invasive plants in all burn severity classes.

The Black Hills National Forest has a very active timber program, in part due to relatively level terrain, local saw mills, and a proliferation of ponderosa pine. The on-going timber program has resulted in widespread, patch-sized disturbance across the forest landscape. The processes of mechanized timber harvest have created a variety of disturbances such as haul roads, skid trails, slash piles, erosion, and exposed mineral soils. This project examines response of the understory plant community, with an emphasis on invasives, to various aspects of timber harvest and levels of disturbance.

These 2 large projects combined with one smaller project investigating invasive plants following salvage logging have created a substantial amount of data relating invasive plants and disturbances at multiple spatial and temporal scales on the Black Hills.

GSD Principal Investigators

Butler, Jack    Supervisory Research Ecologist    605-716-2160

Cooperators and Sponsors

Blaine Cook, Forest Silviculturist, Black Hills National Forest

Disturbance of the understory community
Disturbance of the understory community is inherent in the processes of mechanical tree harvesting. Heavy equipment with rubber or tracked tires removes vegetation, creating paths of exposed mineral soils, which can be readily available for a plant invasion.
Project Focal Areas