• Response of Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Shrub Vegetation to Burning

      Ahlstrand, G. M. (Society for Range Management, 1982-01-01)
      The effects of fire on vegetation in the desert mountain shrub community were studied on 3 to 7-year-old burned sites near the northern limits of the Chihuahuan Desert. Coverage and frequency of redberry juniper (Juniperus pinchotii) and frequency of whiteball acacia (Acacia texensis) were lower, while frequencies of catclaw mimosa (Mimosa biuncifera) and skeleton goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba) were higher on burned sites when compared with unburned paired plants. Lechuguilla (Agave lecheguilla), sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum), and sacahuista (Nolina spp.) suffered losses in excess of 50% on burned sites. With the exceptions of sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) and bull muhly (Muhlenbergia emersleyi), all grasses had recovered or showed increases by the end of three growing seasons. All grasses had recovered or increased on 6 to 7-year-old burns. Recovery of burned plants was predominately by vegetative means, suggesting that periodic fires can be used to maintain or even increase grass coverage at the expense of shrubs in this community.