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Estimation procedures for understory biomass and fuel loads in sagebrush steppe invaded by woodlands


Reiner, Alicia L.; Tausch, Robin J.; Walker, Roger F. 2010. Estimation procedures for understory biomass and fuel loads in sagebrush steppe invaded by woodlands. Western North American Naturalist. 70(3): 312-322.

Regression equations were developed to predict biomass for 9 shrubs, 9 grasses, and 10 forbs that generally dominate sagebrush ecosystems in central Nevada. Independent variables included percent cover, average height, and plant volume. We explored 2 ellipsoid volumes: one with maximum plant height and 2 crown diameters and another with live crown height and 2 crown diameters. Dependent variables were total, live, leaf, and dead biomass. Simple, multiple, linear, and power equations were investigated. Models were chosen based on scatter plots, residual plots, and R2 and SEE values. In general, simple power equations provided the best-fit regressions. For shrubs, the ellipsoid volume computed with maximum plant height best predicted total plant weight, and the ellipsoid volume computed with the live crown height best predicted shrub foliage weight. In addition to regression equations for biomass, ratios for division of that biomass into 1-, 10-, 100-, and 1000-hour fuels were derived for common large shrubs. Regression equations were also derived to relate litter mat sizes of major shrub species to litter weights. The equations in this paper could be used to predict biomass in other areas of the Great Basin if training data were taken to validate or adjust these models.

Keywords: biomass prediction, allometric relationships, fuel loads, shrubs, perennial grasses, perennial forbs, pinyonjuniper woodlands


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Estimation procedures for understory biomass and fuel loads in sagebrush steppe invaded by woodlands
Electronic Publish Date: December 1, 2010
Last Update:
December 1, 2010

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