• Challenges of Establishing Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in Rangeland Restoration: Effects of Herbicide, Mowing, Whole-Community Seeding, and Sagebrush Seed Sources

      Brabec, M. M.; Germino, M. J.; Shinneman, D. J.; Pilliod, D. S.; McIlroy, S. K.; Arkle, R. S. (Society for Range Management, 2015-09)
      The loss of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) on sites disturbed by fire has motivated restoration seeding and planting efforts. However, the resulting sagebrush establishment is often lower than desired, especially in dry areas. Sagebrush establishment may be increased by addressing factors such as seed source and condition or management of the plant community. We assessed initial establishment of seeded sagebrush and four populations of small outplants (from different geographies, climates, and cytotypes) and small sagebrush outplants in an early seral community where mowing, herbicide, and seeding of other native plants had been experimentally applied. No emergence of seeded sagebrush was detected. Mowing the site before planting seedlings led to greater initial survival probabilities for sagebrush outplants, except where seeding also occurred, and these effects were related to corresponding changes in bare soil exposure. Initial survival probabilities were > 30% greater for the local population of big sagebrush relative to populations imported to the site from typical seed transfer distances of ∼320-800 km. Overcoming the high first-year mortality of outplanted or seeded sagebrush is one of the most challenging aspects of postfire restoration and rehabilitation, and further evaluation of the impacts of herb treatments and sagebrush seed sources across different site types and years is needed. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.
    • Short-Term Impacts of Tree Removal on Runoff and Erosion From Pinyon- and Juniper-Dominated Sagebrush Hillslopes

      Pierson, F. B.; Williams, C. J.; Kormos, P. R.; Al-Hamdan, O. Z.; Hardegree, S. P.; Clark, P. E. (Society for Range Management, 2015-09)
      Tree removal is often applied to woodland-encroached rangelands to restore vegetation and improve hydrologic function, but knowledge is limited regarding effects of tree removal on hydrologic response. This study used artificial rainfall and overland flow experiments (9-13 m2) and measures of vegetation and ground cover to investigate short-term (1-2 yr) responses to tree removal at two woodland-encroached sites. Plots were located under trees (tree zone) and in the intercanopy (shrub-interspace zone, 75% of area). Before tree removal, vegetation and ground cover were degraded and intercanopy runoff and erosion rates were high. Cutting and placing trees into the intercanopy did not significantly affect vegetation, ground cover, runoff, or erosion 1 yr posttreatment. Whole-tree mastication as applied in this study did not redistribute tree mulch within the intercanopy, but the treatment did result in enhanced herbaceous cover and hydrologic function in the intercanopy. Fire removal of litter and herbaceous cover increased tree-zone runoff and erosion under high-intensity rainfall by 4- and 30-fold at one site but had minimal impact at the other site. Site response differences were attributed to variability in burn conditions and site-specific erodibility. Burning had minimal impact on shrub-interspace runoff and erosion from applied high-intensity rainfall. However, 1 yr postfire, erosion from concentrated overland flow experiments was 2- to 13-fold greater on burned than unburned tree-zone and shrub-interspace plots and erosion for burned tree zones was 3-fold greater for the more erodible site. Two yr postfire, overland flow erosion remained higher for burned versus unburned tree zones, but enhanced intercanopy herbaceous cover reduced erosion from shrub-interspace zones. The net impact of burning included an initial increase in erosion risk, particularly for tree zones, followed by enhanced herbaceous cover and improved hydrologic function within the intercanopy. The overall results suggest that erosion from late-succession woodlands is reduced primarily through recruitment of intercanopy herbaceous vegetation and ground cover. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.