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Effects of spring prescribed fire in expanding pinyon-juniper woodlands on seedling establishment of sagebrush species


Board, David I.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Wright, Joan G. 2011. Effects of spring prescribed fire in expanding pinyon-juniper woodlands on seedling establishment of sagebrush species. In: Wambolt, Carl L.; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Fisina, Michael R.; Sowell, Bok; Keigley, Richard B.; Palacios, Patsy; Robinson, Jill, comps. Proceedings of the 15th wildland shrub symposium; June 17-19, 2008; Bozeman, MT. Natural Resources and Environmental Issues. 16: Article 20.

Pinyon and juniper trees are expanding into mountain sagebrush communities throughout their ranges. Fire is used to restore these sagebrush communities, but limited information is available on seedling establishment of native shrubs and herbs. We examined effects of spring prescribed fire in the Great Basin on emergence and survival of five species (Artemisia tridentata vaseyana, Festuca idahoensis, Poa secunda, Eriogonum umbellatum and Lupinus argenteus) common to these communities. Data were collected in three microsites (undertree, undershrub and interspace) on a burned and unburned site following a prescribed fire and on the unburned site the year prior to the fire. Soil temperature and moisture were collected on both sites and years. Emergence and survival of A. tridentata was low. Grasses had higher emergence and survival under trees in 2003 in the unburned site, reflecting the pre-burn distribution of these species. E. umbellatum had high emergence and survival regardless of site or microsite. L. argenteus had moderate emergence that was lowest on the burned site under trees and highest on the unburned site in interspaces. Burned soils were warmer than unburned soils. Undertree microsites on the unburned site were cooler than other microsites on both sites due to shading and insulation by needle mats. Soil moisture was generally higher on the burn site due to fewer shrubs and trees. Pinyon appeared to have a facilitative role for grass seedling establishment on both sites. Spring prescribed fire did not have a negative impact on emergence or survival in these mountain sagebrush communities. Low establishment of some species indicate higher seeding rates or repeated seeding may be required.

Keywords: Great Basin, sagebrush ecosystems, restoration, revegetation, seedling emergence and survival, microenvironmental conditions


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Effects of spring prescribed fire in expanding pinyon-juniper woodlands on seedling establishment of sagebrush species
Electronic Publish Date: July 6, 2011
Last Update:
July 6, 2011

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