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Advancing evaluation of resilience to disturbance and resistance to exotic annual grass invasion in the Great Basin

October, 2018 to September, 2020

A resilient sagebrush ecosystem.
An example of a resilient sagebrush ecosystem. (Photograph by Kirk Davies)
The concepts for understanding resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive annual grasses have been well developed for sagebrush ecosystems. A multi-scale framework for using these concepts to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration at landscape scales and to determine effective management strategies at local scales has been developed by Chambers et al. (2014a, 2016, 2017a, b). SageSTEP (Sagebrush Treatment Evaluation Project) data have been used to demonstrate the use of resilience and resistance concepts (Chambers et al. 2014b) and provide a unique opportunity to extend the existing multi-scale framework effort.

Mule ear blooms in a field of cheatgrass in a burned over sagebrush area
Example of cheatgrass in a recovering burn-Mule ear blooms among a field of cheatgrass in a burned over sagebrush area. (Photograph by Dave Board)

SageSTEP is testing the effectiveness of common management treatments (woody species removals, herbicides, prescribed fire) at 16 sites arrayed across the Great Basin. Detailed weather, soils, and vegetation data have been collected at these sites over a period of 10 years. This project will couple the site scale data from SageSTEP with geospatial information on climatic regimes, geologic and soil characteristics, and vegetation productivity and cover in order to refine our ability to predict relative resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive annual grasses.

For more information about for fuel reduction, fire protection, fire use, and ecosystem restoration explore further research at SageSTEP. This project is included in the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science



The project will incorporate current vegetation structure, soil texture, soil water holding capacity, solar radiation, topography, and climate to estimate where exotic annual grass invasion is most likely following fuels reduction and wildfire.


Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Beck, J.L. ; Bradford, J.B. ; Bybee, J. ; Campbell, S. ; Carlson, J. ; Christiansen, T.J. ; Clause, K.J. ; Collins, G. ; Crist, M.R. ; Dinkins, J.B. ; Doherty, K.E. ; Edwards, F. ; Espinosa, S. ; Griffin, K.A. ; Griffin, P. ; Haas, Jessica R. ; Hanser, S.E. ; Havlina, D.W. ; Henke, K.F. ; Hennig, J.D. ; Joyce, Linda A. ; Kilkenny, Francis F. ; Kulpa, S.M. ; Kurth, L.L. ; Maestas, J.D. ; Manning, M. ; Mayer, K.E. ; Mealor, B.A. ; McCarthy, C. ; Pellant, M. ; Perea, M.A. ; Prentice, K.L. ; Pyke, D.A. ; Wiechman, L.A. ; Wuenschel, A. , 2017
Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Beck, Jeffrey L. ; Campbell, Steve ; Carlson, John ; Christiansen, Thomas J. ; Clause, Karen J. ; Dinkins, Jonathan B. ; Doherty, Kevin E. ; Griffin, Kathleen A. ; Havlina, Douglas W. ; Henke, Kenneth F. ; Hennig, Jacob D. ; Kurth, Laurie L. ; Maestas, Jeremy D. ; Manning, Mary ; Mayer, Kenneth E. ; Mealor, Brian A. ; McCarthy, Clinton ; Perea, Marco A. ; Pyke, David A. , 2016
Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Miller, Richard F. ; Board, David ; Pyke, David A. ; Roundy, Bruce A. ; Grace, James B. ; Schupp, Eugene W. ; Tausch, Robin J. , 2014
Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Bradley, Bethany A. ; Brown, Cynthia S. ; D'Antonio, Carla ; Germino, Matthew J. ; Grace, James B. ; Hardegree, Stuart P. ; Miller, Richard F. ; Pyke, David A. , 2014
Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Pyke, David A. ; Maestas, Jeremy D. ; Pellant, Mike ; Boyd, Chad S. ; Campbell, Steven B. ; Espinosa, Shawn ; Havlina, Douglas W. ; Mayer, Kenneth E. ; Wuenschel, Amarina , 2014

Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Benjamin M. Rau - Oregon State University

Funding Contributors:
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Oregon State University
Utah State University
University of Idaho
Brigham Young University
National Interagency Fire Center
Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Nature Conservancy
Joint Fire Science Program
Bureau of Land Management
United States Forest Service