• Chihuahuan Desert Grassland Responds Similarly to Fall, Spring, and Summer Fires During Prolonged Drought

      Ladwig, L. M.; Collins, S. L.; Ford, P. L.; White, L. B. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Land managers frequently use prescribed burning to help maintain grassland communities. Semiarid grassland dynamics following fire are linked to precipitation, with increasing soil moisture accelerating the rate of recovery. Prescribed fires are typically scheduled to follow natural fire regimes, but burning outside the natural fire season could be equally effective and more convenient for managers, depending on their management objectives. We conducted a field experiment in desert grassland to determine if fire seasonality influenced plant community recovery. Experimental burn treatments occurred in fall, spring, and summer in replicate 0.24-ha plots to determine if fire seasonality affected the rate of recovery of an ungrazed Chihuahuan Desert grassland in central New Mexico. Plant communities were surveyed seasonally for 5 yr after the burns. Grassland community structure responded to fire but not fire seasonality. Grass cover in all burned treatments remained lower than unburned controls for 3 yr after the burns. Community change through time was largely influenced by low rainfall, as grass cover in burned and unburned communities converged during a year with severe drought. In conclusion, fire seasonality did not influence rate of community recovery, but extended drought was possibly more influential than fire on grassland dynamics. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Can Imazapic and Seeding Be Applied Simultaneously to Rehabilitate Medusahead-Invaded Rangeland? Single vs. Multiple Entry

      Davies, K. W.; Madsen, M. D.; Nafus, A. M.; Boyd, C. S.; Johnson, D. D. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      It has recently been proposed that the cost of rehabilitating medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae [L.] Nevski)–invaded rangelands may be reduced by concurrently seeding desired vegetation and applying the preemergent herbicide imazapic. However, the efficacy of this “single-entry” approach has been inconsistent, and it has not been compared to the multiple-entry approach where seeding is delayed 1 yr to decrease herbicide damage to nontarget seeded species. We evaluated single- and multiple-entry approaches in medusahead-invaded rangelands in southeastern Oregon with seeding for both approaches occurring in October 2011. Before seeding and applying herbicide, all plots were burned to improve medusahead control with imazapic and prepare the seedbed for drill seeding–introduced perennial bunchgrasses. Both approaches effectively controlled medusahead during the 2 yr postseeding. However, almost no seeded bunchgrasses established with the single-entry treatment (< 0.5 individals · m-2), probably as a result of nontarget herbicide mortality. Perennial grass cover and density in the single-entry treatment did not differ from the untreated control. In contrast, the multiple-entry treatment had on average 6.5 seeded bunchgrasses · m-2 in the second year postseeding. Perennial grass (seeded and nonseed species) cover was eight times greater in the multiple-entry compared to the single-entry treatment by the second year postseeding. These results suggest that the multiple-entry approach has altered the community from annual-dominated to perennial grass–dominated, but the single-entry approach will likely be reinvaded and dominated medusahead without additional treatments because of a lack of perennial vegetation. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Targeted Grazing of White Locoweed: Short-Term Effects of Herbivory Regime on Vegetation and Sheep

      Goodman, L. E.; Cibils, A. F.; Lopez, S. C.; Steiner, R. L.; Graham, J. D.; McDaniel, K. C.; Abbott, L. B.; Stegelmeier, B. L.; Hallford, D. M. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      White locoweed (Oxytropis sericea Nuttall) and nontarget vegetation response to 2 yr of targeted grazing by sheep, one treatment of picloram plus 2, 4-D (HER) or no treatment (CON) were compared. Serum of sheep that grazed locoweed intermittently (IGZ, 5 d on locoweed followed by 3 d off locoweed) vs. counterparts that grazed locoweed continuously for 24 d (CGZ) was also examined. Alkaloid toxicity was inferred by serum levels of thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), alkaline phosphatase (ALKP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and swainsonine, as well as behavior and body weight gains. Three sites were used in a randomized complete block design. IGZ, CGZ, and HER treatments reduced locoweed density (P < 0.01), canopy cover (P < 0.01), number of flower stalks (IGZ: P = 0.02, CGZ and HER: P = 0.01), and plant size (P < 0.01). White locoweed seed density in the soil seed bank was not reduced with grazing, and nontarget vegetation was mostly unaffected by treatments. Grass canopy cover increased in grazed and herbicide plots throughout the study (IGZ: P = 0.03, CGZ and HER: P < 0.01). Percentage bare ground was unchanged (IGZ: P = 0.46, CGZ: P = 0.44) in grazed plots but decreased (P = 0.03) in HER plots. After 24 d, ewes in the IGZ treatment had lower levels of serum ALKP (P < 0.01) and AST (P = 0.02) and marginally lower swainsonine levels (P < 0.07) than CGZ ewes that tended to exhibit lower serum T3 (P < 0.07) and similar serum T4 (P = 0.25) levels. Time spent feeding on locoweed tended to differ (P = 0.06) between treatments. Body weight gain was the same (P = 0.19) regardless of treatment. IGZ of locoweed-infested rangeland with sheep may be a viable short-term means of reducing locoweed density without detrimentally affecting animal health. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Fuel Reduction, Seeding, and Vegetation in a Juniper Woodland

      Kerns, B. K.; Day, M. A. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Western juniper has increased in density and distribution in the interior Pacific Northwest since the late 1800s. Management goals for many juniper woodlands are now focused on reducing tree densities and promoting biodiversity, prompting the use of fuel reduction treatments. Fuel reduction often involves mechanical cutting and disturbances such as slash pile burning and skid trail formation. While these activities may reduce tree densities, the extent to which they will restore native biodiversity and community composition, particularly in woodlands invaded by exotic annual grasses, is unclear. We evaluated the effects of juniper cutting in two experiments of disturbance type (slash piles and skid trails) followed by three native seeding treatments (cultivar, locally sourced, and no seed) on vegetation in central Oregon. Prior to cutting, native perennial grass cover and richness were positively associated and exotic grass cover was negatively associated with juniper basal area. After cutting and 2 yr after seeding, species composition was altered for both disturbance types. Some seeded areas had higher total species richness, higher native species richness, higher cover of seeded species, and higher overall cover compared to areas that were not seeded. But seeding effectiveness in mitigating exotic species spread varied based on exotic species functional group, pretreatment propagule pressure, and experiment disturbance type. Neither seed mix lowered exotic grass cover. There was limited evidence that the cultivar mix outperformed the locally sourced native seed mix. In the short term, fuel reduction activities may have facilitated further conversion of this woodland to an exotic grassland, but longer-term evaluation is needed. In juniper woodlands that have been invaded by exotic species, fuel reduction activities may facilitate further invasion, and exotic species control may be needed to limit invasion and promote native vegetation. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Incorporating Plant Mortality and Recruitment Into Rangeland Management and Assessment

      Svejcar, T.; James, J.; Hardegree, S.; Sheley, R. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Rangeland management is largely focused on managing vegetation change. Objectives may include managing against change if the desired vegetation is in place, or attempting to create a shift in vegetation if the desired plant community is not present. There is a rich body of research documenting influences of disturbance and management on rangeland vegetation. However, in many cases the information is largely observational and does not identify mechanisms driving change. We propose using the regeneration niche concept to more effectively predict when vegetation change is possible and to suggest successional direction. Simply stated, as plants die and leave gaps in the community, recruitment of new individuals will dictate successional direction. Recruitment requires that propagules are present, that the propagules find safe sites in which to establish, and that the seedlings and young plants are able to compete with existing vegetation and survive. In many rangeland communities, perennial bunchgrasses are a key to stability and invasion resistance. Existing literature shows that most rangeland bunchgrasses have average life spans of 10 yr or less, so periodic recruitment is necessary to maintain communities in which they are a major component. Disturbance can influence plant population dynamics, and we suggest classifying disturbances based on how they influence mortality and recruitment. We also suggest that more emphasis be placed on the concept of critical transitions and less on the degree of disturbance per se. In other words, a small disturbance at the wrong point in community composition (low plant density and high gap size for example) can cause a transition, whereas major disturbance in a high condition community may yield little risk of transition. We suggest that a focus on mortality and recruitment will provide a mechanistic approach for predicting vegetation change and making management decisions. We refer to this approach as recruitment-based management. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Explaining Cattle Rancher Participation in Wildlife Conservation Technical Assistance Programs in the Southeastern United States

      Willcox, A. S.; Giuliano, W. M. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      US natural resources and wildlife agencies have been increasing their efforts to involve cattle ranchers in wildlife conservation through technical assistance programs that provide for wildlife conservation activities. Understanding why ranchers choose to be involved in these programs is fundamental to increasing participation and ensuring their success. Using the theory of planned behavior as a theoretical model, we surveyed 1 093 ranchers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi to explain and predict intention to participate in technical assistance programs, specifically, wildlife workshops and field days. All three theory components—attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control—were important to intent to participate and explained 41% of the variance, with perceived behavioral control and subjective norm having the greatest standardized effects (β = 0.329 and β = 0.316, respectively). Investigation of the construct components yielded insight into how agencies could increase participation. Ranchers generally held positive attitudes toward wildlife workshops, perceiving them to be a good way to learn about wildlife management and perceiving that most ranches were suitable for wildlife, an instance of perceived behavioral control. However, ranchers did not perceive that workshops and field days were widely advertised or promoted, limiting the amount of perceived control they had over their participation. Additionally, ranchers identified normative groups whose opinions were important to them, namely their families, friends and neighbors, fellow ranchers, and agency staff. However, these same groups were not seen to actively encourage ranchers to participate in technical field days and workshops. Using key members of these normative groups to advertise and promote workshops and field days among their peers should increase rancher behavioral control and attitudes associated with technical workshops and field days. Employing strategies from this research to increase attendance at technical workshops and field days should improve wildlife conservation technical assistance program effects. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Vegetation Management Across Colorado Plateau BLM Lands: 1950–2003

      Redmond, M. D.; Golden, E. S.; Cobb, N. S.; Barger, N. N. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Large tracts of land across the western United States have been managed over the last century in an effort to increase forage production, reduce the risk of wildland fires, and/or restore ecosystem structure and function. Yet documentation of this land-treatment history is lacking. With the use of data collected from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field offices across the Colorado Plateau, we quantified the number, spatial extent, and implementation cost of tree-reduction and seeding treatments done in piñon (Pinus edulis)–juniper (Juniperus osteosperma, Juniperus monophylla, Juniperus scopulorum) woodlands between 1950 and 2003. Over 247 000 hectares of land were treated, corresponding to 6.6% of the piñon–juniper vegetation type within BLM-owned lands. Tree-reduction treatments involving chaining, bulldozing, or cabling were most prevalent between the 1950s and 1970s, with over 163 000 ha of land treated with these methods. Prescribed burning became increasingly prevalent in the 1980s, with over 43 000 ha burned. In more recent years, hydroaxe treatments have become common (4 400 ha treated), but to a much lesser extent than prescribed burns. Over 60% of these tree-reduction treatments were done in conjunction with revegetation or seeding treatments. Implementation costs of these tree-reduction treatments were over $26.7 million, with the hydroaxe treatment having nearly three times the cost of implementation than all other tree-reduction treatments. The spatial extent of these tree-reduction treatments and associated implementation costs highlight the importance of research examining the efficacy of these treatments and the potential legacy effects. The land-use history reported in this study and the accompanying freely accessible on-line database is a useful tool to guide research and management objectives and methodology. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Animal-Driven Rotational Grazing Patterns on Seasonally Grazed New Mexico Rangeland

      Sawalhah, M. N.; Cibils, A. F.; Hu, C.; Cao, H.; Holechek, J. L. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Global positioning system (GPS) data collected over a 4-yr period on 52 crossbred young cows grazing a 146-ha pasture were used to determine whether cattle establish patch-scale rotational patterns within pastures. Cow positions at 5-min intervals were recorded during 20 d in late winter/early spring. Estimated per capita forage allowance (PCFA) was 347 kg herbage · cow-1, 438 kg herbage · cow-1, 1 104 kg herbage · cow-1, and 1 884 kg herbage · cow-1 in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively. Cumulative winter/early spring precipitation (CPPT) was low in 2004 and 2006 (35 mm and 30 mm, respectively) and high in 2005 and 2007 (119 mm and 112 mm, respectively). Structured query language codes developed for this study were used to 1) select grazing GPS points with movement velocities between 1 m · min-1 and 20 m · min-1, 2) overlay location data on a pasture map subdivided into 30 × 30 m pixels, and 3) calculate percentage of grazed pixels (% GP), pixel residence time (RT), revisit rate (RR), and return interval (RI) for each animal. Cows grazed 31% ± 5.9 SEM of all pixels for 21 min ± 3.7 SEM, visited grazed pixels 1.6 times ± 0.18 SEM, and returned to grazed pixels after 5 D ± 2 SEM. As PCFA increased, % GP decreased (r = -0.42) and RI increased (r = 0.73) significantly (P &lt; 0.01); however, RT decreased (r = -0.46) and RR increased (r = 0.6) significantly (P &lt; 0.01) with increasing CPPT. Pixel attributes (elevation, aspect, slope, percentage of tree cover, and distance from water, roads, and fences) failed to explain variation in pixel RT (R2 = 0.28) regardless of PCFA. The same predictors explained most of the variation in pixel RR and RI when PCFA was high (R2 = 0.86 and R2 = 00.76, respectively). Cows appear to establish their own patch-scale rotational patterns within pastures. Nonforage pixel attributes appear to have a strong influence on such patterns. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Season and Intensity of Burning on Two Grass Species of the Chihuahuan Desert

      Luna, M.; Britton, C. M.; Rideout-Hanzak, S.; Villalobos, C.; Sosebeex, R. E.; Wester, D. B. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      We investigated effects of three burning seasons under two simulated fuel loads on plant mortality and basal area of small and large blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis [H.B.K.] Lag) and broomgrass muhly (Muhlenbergia rigida [H.B.K.] Lag) plants in the southern Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. We simulated prescribed fire with a portable propane burner calibrated to match time and temperature curves reached at 1 700 kg · ha-1 and 2 800 kg · ha-1 fine fuel loads. Large (initial basal area &gt; 10 cm2) and small (initial basal area ≤ 10 cm2) plants were used. For each species, we randomly treated 50 plants in each size class each season at each fuel load; 50 control plants of each species and size received no fire treatment. We estimated basal area change from measurements recorded photographically. Blue grama mortality was affected by season of burning, simulated fuel load, and plant size. Small blue grama plants had higher mortality than large plants. Burning at the high fuel load in winter increased basal area of large blue grama plants; in contrast, basal area was not affected by summer burning, and was reduced by spring burning with high fuel load. Basal area of broomgrass muhly plants was reduced by summer and winter burning and these responses were independent of fuel load and plant size. Our results suggest that winter is the most suitable season for prescription burning to improve southern Chihuahuan Desert grasslands: prescribed fire during this time reduced basal area of broomgrass muhly plants, had the highest mortality on broomgrass muhly, had a positive effect on basal area of small blue grama plants, and had no effect on basal area of large blue grama plants. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Ideal Free Distributions of Mobile Pastoralists in Multiple Seasonal Grazing Areas

      Moritz, M.; Hamilton, I. M.; Scholte, P.; Chen, Y. -J. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      The pastoral system in the Far North Region of Cameroon is best described as an open system in which mobile pastoralists have open access to common-pool grazing resources. We hypothesized that there is a self-organizing management system of open access to common-pool grazing resources and predicted that we would find an Ideal Free Distribution (IFD) of mobile pastoralists within seasonal grazing areas. In this paper we used mobility data and remote sensing data from two seasonal grazing areas at the end of the dry season in three consecutive years to evaluate that hypothesis. We found evidence of an IFD in the two seasonal grazing areas of the Logone Floodplain and the Lake Maga area. These findings offer further support for our hypothesis that there is a complex adaptive system in which pastoralists distribute themselves effectively over available grazing resources. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Interactive Effects of Nitrogen Deposition and Grazing on Plant Species Composition in a Serpentine Grassland

      Pasari, J. R.; Hernández, D. L.; Zavaleta, E. S. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      The interaction of resource availability and disturbance can strongly affect plant species richness and the spread of exotic plants. Several ecological theories posit that disturbance mediates the richness-reducing effects of increased competition as resource levels rise. In the low-nutrient serpentine grasslands of the San Francisco Bay Area, the fertilizing effects of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition may threaten native species by promoting nitrophilic exotic grasses. Attempts to mitigate these N deposition effects have focused on cattle grazing as a strategy to reduce exotic grass cover. We simulated realistic N deposition increases with low-level fertilization, manipulated grazing with fencing, and monitored grazing intensity using camera traps in a 4 yr factorial experiment to assess the effects of grazing and N deposition on several measures of native and exotic species dynamics in California's largest serpentine grassland. Our results suggest that native species diversity may increase slightly under low-level N deposition with moderate grazing in this system. However, grazing may not be effective at limiting exotic cover as N accumulates in the future. Examination of treatment trajectories using principal response curves indicated that responses to grazing might be determined more by functional group (forb or grass) than origin (native or exotic). Grazing intensity varied dramatically within the single stocking rate used to manage this ecosystem. Given this variation and the contrasting effects of grazing on different functional groups, more targeted management may be required to improve conservation outcomes. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Invasion is Contingent on Species Assemblage and Invasive Species Identity in Experimental Rehabilitation Plots

      Leffler, A. J.; Leonard, E. D.; James, J. J.; Monaco, T. A. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      Ecological studies often suggest that diverse communities are most resistant to invasion by exotic plants, but relatively few local species may be available to a rehabilitation practitioner. We examine the ability of monocultures and diverse assemblages to resist invasion by an exotic annual grass (cheatgrass) and an exotic biennial forb (dyer's woad) in experimental rehabilitation plots. We constructed seven assemblages that included three monocultures of grass, forb, or shrub; three four-species mixtures of grasses, forbs, or shrubs; and a three-species mixture of one species from each growth form in an experimental field setting to test resistance to invasion. Assemblages were seeded with cheatgrass and dyer's woad for two consecutive years and quantified as biomass and density of individuals from each exotic species. Soil NO3- and leaf-area index were examined as predictors of invasive plant abundance. Cheatgrass invasion was greatest in forb and shrub assemblages, and least in mixed grass or grass monoculture; dyer's woad invasion was greatest into mixed grass or grass monoculture, but least into monoculture or mixed-species assemblages composed of forbs or shrubs. The community composed of grasses, forbs, and shrubs suppressed invasion by both species. Consequently, assemblages were most resistant to invasion by species of the same growth form. Moreover, these monocultures and mixtures were generally similar in conferring resistance to invasion, but a monoculture of big sagebrush was more resistant than a mixture of shrubs. Soil NO3- was correlated with invasion by cheatgrass, whereas LAI was correlated with invasion by dyer's woad, suggesting these species were more limited by belowground and aboveground resources, respectively. Overall, increasing diversity with limited species did not necessarily enhance resistance to invasion. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Testing for Thresholds in a Semiarid Grassland: The Influence of Prairie Dogs and Plague

      Augustine, D. J.; Derner, J. D.; Detling, J. K. (Society for Range Management, 2014-11)
      State-and-transition models for semiarid grasslands in the North American Great Plains suggest that the presence of herbivorous black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) on a site 1) creates a vegetation state characterized by increased dominance of annual forbs and unpalatable bunchgrasses and increased bare soil exposure and 2) requires long-term (&gt; 40 yr) prairie dog removal to transition back to a vegetation state dominated by palatable perennial grasses. Here, we examine 1) how the recent history of prairie dog occupancy on a site (1–10 yr) influences the magnitude of prairie dog effects on vegetation composition and 2) how occupancy history affects vegetation dynamics following extirpation of prairie dogs. We used a natural experiment in the shortgrass steppe of northeastern Colorado, USA, where prairie dogs were extirpated from multiple sites during an outbreak of epizootic plague. On sites occupied by prairie dogs for 1–4 yr prior to extirpation, plant cover and composition recovered to conditions similar to unoccupied sites within a single growing season. Larger reductions in perennial C4 grasses occurred on sites occupied for the prior 7–10 yr compared to sites with shorter occupancy histories (&lt; 6 yr). On sites occupied for the prior 7–10 yr, C4 perennial grasses recovered after 5 yr following prairie dog extirpation; in addition, C3 perennial graminoids and forbs remained more abundant (compared to sites with no history of prairie dogs) throughout the 5-yr period. Our findings showcase that prior site occupancy (up to 10 yr) by prairie dogs did not induce irreversible shifts in vegetation state in this semiarid grassland. Rather, vegetation changes induced by prairie dogs represent primarily a phase shift in landscapes where prairie dog populations are regulated by epizootic plague. © 2014 Society for Range Management
    • Understory Cover Responses to Piñon-Juniper Treatments Across Tree Dominance Gradients in the Great Basin

      Roundy, B. A.; Miller, R. F.; Tausch, R. J.; Young, K.; Hulet, A.; Rau, B.; Jessop, B.; Chambers, J. C.; Eggett, D. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      Piñon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) trees are reduced to restore native vegetation and avoid severe fires where they have expanded into sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) communities. However, what phase of tree infilling should treatments target to retain desirable understory cover and avoid weed dominance? Prescribed fire and tree felling were applied to 8-20-ha treatment plots at 11 sites across the Great Basin with a tree-shredding treatment also applied to four Utah sites. Treatments were applied across a tree infilling gradient as quantified by a covariate tree dominance index (TDI=tree cover/tree+shrub+tall perennial grass cover). Mixed model analysis of covariance indicated that treatment×covariate interactions were significant (P<0.05) for most vegetation functional groups 3 yr after treatment. Shrub cover was most reduced with fire at any TDI or by mechanical treatment after infilling resulted in over 50% shrub cover loss (TDI>0.4). Fire increased cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) cover by an average of 4.2% for all values of TDI. Cutting or shredding trees generally produced similar responses and increased total perennial herbaceous and cheatgrass cover by an average of 10.2% and 3.8%, at TDIs ≥0.35 and ≥0.45. Cheatgrass cover estimated across the region was <6% after treatment, but two warmer sites had high cheatgrass cover before (19.2% and 27.2%) and after tree reduction (26.6% and 50.4%). Fuel control treatments are viable management options for increasing understory cover across a range of sites and tree cover gradients, but should be accompanied by revegetation on warmer sites with depleted understories where cheatgrass is highly adapted. Shrub and perennial herbaceous cover can be maintained by mechanically treating at lower TDI. Perennial herbaceous cover is key for avoiding biotic and abiotic thresholds in this system through resisting weed dominance and erosion. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • A Synopsis of Short-Term Response to Alternative Restoration Treatments in Sagebrush-Steppe: The SageSTEP Project

      McIver, J.; Brunson, M.; Bunting, S.; Chambers, J.; Doescher, P.; Grace, J.; Hulet, A.; Johnson, D.; Knick, S.; Miller, R.; et al. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP) is an integrated long-term study that evaluates ecological effects of alternative treatments designed to reduce woody fuels and to stimulate the herbaceous understory of sagebrush steppe communities of the Intermountain West. This synopsis summarizes results through 3 yr posttreatment. Woody vegetation reduction by prescribed fire, mechanical treatments, or herbicides initiated a cascade of effects, beginning with increased availability of nitrogen and soil water, followed by increased growth of herbaceous vegetation. Response of butterflies and magnitudes of runoff and erosion closely followed herbaceous vegetation recovery. Effects on shrubs, biological soil crust, tree cover, surface woody fuel loads, and sagebrush-obligate bird communities will take longer to be fully expressed. In the short term, cool wet sites were more resilient than warm dry sites, and resistance was mostly dependent on pretreatment herbaceous cover. At least 10 yr of posttreatment time will likely be necessary to determine outcomes for most sites. Mechanical treatments did not serve as surrogates for prescribed fire in how each influenced the fuel bed, the soil, erosion, and sage-obligate bird communities. Woody vegetation reduction by any means resulted in increased availability of soil water, higher herbaceous cover, and greater butterfly numbers. We identified several trade-offs (desirable outcomes for some variables, undesirable for others), involving most components of the study system. Trade-offs are inevitable when managing complex natural systems, and they underline the importance of asking questions about the whole system when developing management objectives. Substantial spatial and temporal heterogeneity in sagebrush steppe ecosystems emphasizes the point that there will rarely be a "recipe" for choosing management actions on any specific area. Use of a consistent evaluation process linked to monitoring may be the best chance managers have for arresting woodland expansion and cheatgrass invasion that may accelerate in a future warming climate. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • Piñon-Juniper Reduction Increases Soil Water Availability of the Resource Growth Pool

      Roundy, B. A.; Young, K.; Cline, N.; Hulet, A.; Miller, R. F.; Tausch, R. J.; Chambers, J. C.; Rau, B. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      Managers reduce piñon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) trees that are encroaching on sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities to lower fuel loads and increase cover of desirable understory species. All plant species in these communities depend on soil water held at >-1.5 MPa matric potential in the upper 0.3 m of soil for nutrient diffusion to roots and major growth in spring (resource growth pool). We measured soil water matric potentials and temperatures using gypsum blocks and thermocouples buried at 0.01-0.3 m on tree, shrub, and interspace microsites to characterize the seasonal soil climate of 13 tree-encroached sites across the Great Basin. We also tested the effects of initial tree infilling phase and tree control treatments of prescribed fire, tree cutting, and tree shredding on time of available water and soil temperature of the resource growth pool on nine sites. Both prescribed fire and mechanical tree reduction similarly increased the time that soil water was available (matric potential >-1.5 MPa) in spring, but this increase was greatest (up to 26 d) when treatments were applied at high tree dominance. As plant cover increased with time since treatment, the additional time of available water decreased. However, even in the fourth year after treatment, available water was 8.6 d and 18 d longer on treatments applied at mid and high tree dominance compared to untreated plots, indicating ongoing water availability to support continued increases in residual plants or annual invaders in the future. To increase resistance to invasive annual grasses managers should either treat at lower or mid tree dominance when there is still high cover of desirable residual vegetation or seed desirable species to use increased resources from tree reduction. This strategy is especially critical on warmer sites, which have high climate suitability to invasive species such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.). © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • Region-Wide Ecological Responses of Arid Wyoming Big Sagebrush Communities to Fuel Treatments

      Pyke, D. A.; Shaff, S. E.; Lindgren, A. I.; Schupp, E. W.; Doescher, P. S.; Chambers, J. C.; Burnham, J. S.; Huso, M. M. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      If arid sagebrush ecosystems lack resilience to disturbances or resistance to annual invasives, then alternative successional states dominated by annual invasives, especially cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), are likely after fuel treatments. We identified six Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) locations (152-381 mm precipitation) that we believed had sufficient resilience and resistance for recovery. We examined impacts of woody fuel reduction (fire, mowing, the herbicide tebuthiuron, and untreated controls, all with and without the herbicide imazapic) on short-term dominance of plant groups and on important land health parameters with the use of analysis of variance (ANOVA). Fire and mowing reduced woody biomass at least 85% for 3 yr, but herbaceous fuels were reduced only by fire (72%) and only in the first year. Herbaceous fuels produced at least 36% more biomass with mowing than untreated areas during posttreatment years. Imazapic only reduced herbaceous biomass after fires (34%). Tebuthiuron never affected herbaceous biomass. Perennial tall grass cover was reduced by 59% relative to untreated controls in the first year after fire, but it recovered by the second year. Cover of all remaining herbaceous groups was not changed by woody fuel treatments. Only imazapic reduced significantly herbaceous cover. Cheatgrass cover was reduced at least 63% with imazapic for 3 yr. Imazapic reduced annual forb cover by at least 45%, and unexpectedly, perennial grass cover by 49% (combination of tall grasses and Sandberg bluegrass [Poa secunda J. Presl.]). Fire reduced density of Sandberg bluegrass between 40% and 58%, decreased lichen and moss cover between 69% and 80%, and consequently increased bare ground between 21% and 34% and proportion of gaps among perennial plants >2 m (at least 28% during the 3 yr). Fire, mowing, and imazapic may be effective in reducing fuels for 3 yr, but each has potentially undesirable consequences on plant communities. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • Resilience and Resistance of Sagebrush Ecosystems: Implications for State and Transition Models and Management Treatments

      Chambers, J. C.; Miller, R. F.; Board, D. I.; Pyke, D. A.; Roundy, B. A.; Grace, J. B.; Schupp, E. W.; Tausch, R. J. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      In sagebrush ecosystems invasion of annual exotics and expansion of piñon (Pinus monophylla Torr. and Frem.) and juniper (Juniperus occidentalis Hook., J. osteosperma [Torr.] Little) are altering fire regimes and resulting in large-scale ecosystem transformations. Management treatments aim to increase resilience to disturbance and enhance resistance to invasive species by reducing woody fuels and increasing native perennial herbaceous species. We used Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project data to test predictions on effects of fire vs. mechanical treatments on resilience and resistance for three site types exhibiting cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) invasion and/or piñon and juniper expansion: 1) warm and dry Wyoming big sagebrush (WY shrub); 2) warm and moist Wyoming big sagebrush (WY PJ); and 3) cool and moist mountain big sagebrush (Mtn PJ). Warm and dry (mesic/aridic) WY shrub sites had lower resilience to fire (less shrub recruitment and native perennial herbaceous response) than cooler and moister (frigid/xeric) WY PJ and Mtn PJ sites. Warm (mesic) WY Shrub and WY PJ sites had lower resistance to annual exotics than cool (frigid to cool frigid) Mtn PJ sites. In WY shrub, fire and sagebrush mowing had similar effects on shrub cover and, thus, on perennial native herbaceous and exotic cover. In WY PJ and Mtn PJ, effects were greater for fire than cut-and-leave treatments and with high tree cover in general because most woody vegetation was removed increasing resources for other functional groups. In WY shrub, about 20% pretreatment perennial native herb cover was necessary to prevent increases in exotics after treatment. Cooler and moister WY PJ and especially Mtn PJ were more resistant to annual exotics, but perennial native herb cover was still required for site recovery. We use our results to develop state and transition models that illustrate how resilience and resistance influence vegetation dynamics and management options. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.
    • Response of Conifer-Encroached Shrublands in the Great Basin to Prescribed Fire and Mechanical Treatments

      Miller, R. F.; Ratchford, J.; Roundy, B. A.; Tausch, R. J.; Hulet, A.; Chambers, J. (Society for Range Management, 2014-09)
      In response to the recent expansion of piñon and juniper woodlands into sagebrush-steppe communities in the northern Great Basin region, numerous conifer-removal projects have been implemented, primarily to release understory vegetation at sites having a wide range of environmental conditions. Responses to these treatments have varied from successful restoration of native plant communities to complete conversion to nonnative invasive species. To evaluate the general response of understory vegetation to tree canopy removal in conifer-encroached shrublands, we set up a region-wide study that measured treatment-induced changes in understory cover and density. Eleven study sites located across four states in the Great Basin were established as statistical replicate blocks, each containing fire, mechanical, and control treatments. Different cover groups were measured prior to and during the first 3 yr following treatment. There was a general pattern of response across the wide range of site conditions. There was an immediate increase in bare ground and decrease in tall perennial grasses following the fire treatment, but both recovered by the second or third growing season after treatment. Tall perennial grass cover increased in the mechanical treatment in the second and third year, and in the fire treatment cover was higher than the control by year 3. Nonnative grass and forb cover did not increase in the fire and mechanical treatments in the first year but increased in the second and third years. Perennial forb cover increased in both the fire and mechanical treatments. The recovery of herbaceous cover groups was from increased growth of residual vegetation, not density. Sagebrush declined in the fire treatment, but seedling density increased in both treatments. Biological soil crust declined in the fire treatment, with no indications of recovery. Differences in plant response that occurred between mechanical and fire treatments should be considered when selecting management options. © 2014 The Society for Range Management.