• Herbaceous Vegetation Responses (1992-2004) to Restoration Treatments in a Ponderosa Pine Forest

      Moore, Margaret M.; Casey, Cheryl A.; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Springer, Judith D.; Fulé, Peter Z.; Covington, Wallace W.; Laughlin, Daniel C. (Society for Range Management, 2006-03-01)
      Ecological restoration treatments are widely applied in southwestern ponderosa pine forests to convert them to an open canopy structure similar to that found at the time of Euro-American settlement. An experiment was initiated in northern Arizona in 1994 to evaluate long-term ecosystem responses to 3 restoration treatments: 1) thinning from below (thinning), 2) thinning from below plus forest floor manipulation with periodic prescribed burning (composite), and 3) an untreated control. Results focus on total herbaceous and functional-group standing crop response to these restoration treatments. Pretreatment data were collected in 1992 and posttreatment responses were measured from 1994 through 2004. Total herbaceous standing crop was significantly higher on the 2 treated areas than on the control over the entire posttreatment period, but did not differ between the thinning and composite treatments. Plant functional groups responded differently to treatments and to drought. In general, the graminoid standing crop responded within several years after the initial treatments and continued to increase through time, until a series of severe droughts reduced standing crop to pretreatment levels. C3 graminoids dominated the standing-crop response, of which bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey ssp. elymoides) was the primary contributor. C4 graminoids had a minimal response to restoration treatments, possibly because they were less abundant before the experiment began or because they were adversely affected by autumn burning. Legumes and forbs exhibited a 4-5 year lag before responding to the thinning and composite treatments. Annual and biennial plants showed a large biomass increase approximately 5 years after implementation of the composite treatment. The restoration goal of optimizing herbaceous standing crop must be weighed against the competing goals of increasing the abundance of specific functional groups, increasing biodiversity or rare plants, and managing invasive plant species. 
    • Outplanting Wyoming Big Sagebrush Following Wildfire: Stock Performance and Economics

      Dettweiler-Robinson, Eva; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Evans, James R.; Newsome, Heidi; Davies, G. Matt; Wirth, Troy A.; Pyke, David A.; Easterly, Richard T.; Salstrom, Debra; Dunwiddie, Peter W. (Society for Range Management, 2013-11-01)
      Finding ecologically and economically effective ways to establish matrix species is often critical for restoration success. Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis) historically dominated large areas of western North America, but has been extirpated from many areas by large wildfires; its re-establishment in these areas often requires active management. We evaluated the performance (survival, health) and economic costs of container and bare-root stock based on operational plantings of more than 1.5 million seedlings across 2 200 ha, and compared our plantings with 30 other plantings in which sagebrush survival was tracked for up to 5 yr. Plantings occurred between 2001 and 2007, and included 12 combinations of stock type, planting amendment, and planting year. We monitored 10 500 plants for up to 8 yr after planting. Survival to Year 3 averaged 21% and was higher for container stock (30%) than bare-root stock (17%). Survival did not differ among containerstock plantings, whereas survival of bare-root stock was sometimes enhanced by a hydrogel dip before planting, but not by mycorrhizal amendments. Most mortality occurred during the first year after planting; this period is the greatest barrier to establishment of sagebrush stock. The proportion of healthy stock in Year 1 was positively related to subsequent survival to Year 3. Costs were minimized, and survival maximized, by planting container stock or bare-root stock with a hydrogel dip. Our results indicate that outplanting is an ecologically and economically effective way of establishing Wyoming big sagebrush. However, statistical analyses were limited by the fact that data about initial variables (stock quality, site conditions, weather) were often unrecorded and by the lack of a replicated experimental design. Sharing consistent data and using an experimental approach would help land managers and restoration practitioners maximize the success of outplanting efforts.