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Fuels Reduction and Ungulate Grazing Effects on Exotic Plant Species are Short-lived in Upland Forest Understories

Photo of A study site at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range that was thinned and then fenced to exclude ungulate herbivory. USDA Forest ServiceA study site at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range that was thinned and then fenced to exclude ungulate herbivory. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Disturbances of fire and domestic ungulates have been shown to facilitate the spread and establishment of exotic plant species in many grassland and shrubland ecosystems across the world; however, these relationships are not well-documented for forested ecosystems, especially dry forests of interior western North America, where fuels reduction treatments and ungulate grazing are common.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Wisdom, Michael, Dr. Naylor, Bridgett
Research Location : Oregon
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 826

Summary

To learn more about the interaction among of fuel reduction treatments, grazing, and establishment of exotic plant species, Forest Service researchers conducted a 6-year landscape experiment at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in Oregon. Treatments included mechanical fuels reduction and prescribed fire in dry forest understories, versus untreated areas, combined with varying densities of cattle and elk grazing versus no grazing. They found that varying combinations of fuels reduction and ungulate grazing had only minor effects on exotic plant species richness and cover. Exotic plant establishment was short-lived following fuels treatments and was not strongly affected by either cattle or elk grazing. These results point to the need for ecosystem-specific research on disturbance effects of fire and other fuels reduction treatments and ungulates to understand these individual and combined effects on exotic plant dynamics.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Oregon State University
  • San Diego Zoo Global Conservation Program

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