Browsing Rangeland Ecology & Management, Volume 69, Number 6 (November 2016) by Title
Now showing items 12-14 of 14
Smoke and Ash Effects on Seedling Emergence from Germinable Soil Seed Bank in Fescue PrairieSeedling recruitment plays a crucial role in recovering plant communities after disturbance. As a natural disturbance, fire canmediate species composition in fescue prairie. However, little was known about the effects of important fire cues on seedling recruitment in fescue prairie. Soil seed bank samples were taken fromthe top 5 cm of the soil profile and separated into litter, 0- to 1-cm, and 1- to 5-cm layers. Seedlings emerging from soil seed banks incubated in the greenhouse were examined after applying smoke, ash, and smoke plus ash in 2013 and 2014, to assess their effects on the density, richness, and composition of seedlings emerging from the soil seed bank in fescue prairie. Smoke plus ash significantly increased the number of Artemisia ludoviciana Nutt. seedlings emerging from 0- to 1-cm soil layer and Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronquist seedlings emerging fromthe litter layer (P < 0.05), while ash significantly increased the number of Artemisia frigida Willd. seedlings emerging from 0- to 1-cm soil layer (P < 0.05). Densities of total seedlings emerging from the 0- to 1-cm soil layer were increased by smoke plus ash in 2013 and by ash in 2014 (P < 0.05). Smoke plus ash and ash alone had more prominent effects on seedling density and richness of native forbs. Species composition was altered by ash in the 0- to 1-cm, 0- to 5- cm, and all layers combined in 2013 (P < 0.05). Direct fire cues appear to stimulate recruitment of some species, especially native forbs, contributing to potential changes in species composition of fescue prairie. © 2016 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Synthesis Paper: Assessment of Research on Rangeland Fire as a Management PracticeRangelands are fire-dependent ecosystems severely altered through direct fire suppression and fuels management. The removal of fire is a dominant cause of ecological sites moving across thresholds with the majority of North American rangelands currently showingmoderate or high departure from reference conditions. Recognizing the need to restore fire on rangelands and incorporate prescribed fire into management plans, the Natural Resource Conservation Service initiated the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) to evaluate the validity current practices through peer-reviewed scientific literature. We updated the CEAP review and broadened the discussion of prescribed fire as a global management practice. We reviewed and summarized prescribed fire literature available through Web of Science using search terms in the title. The majority of literature (40%) evaluated plant responses to fire with fire behavior and management (29%), wildlife and arthropods (12%), soils (11%), and air quality (4%) evaluated less frequently. Generally, fire effects on plants are neutral to positive and the majority of negative responses lasted less than 2 years. Similarly, soil responses were recovered within 2 yr after burning. However, most studies did not report how long treatments were in place (62%) or the size of experimental units (52%). The experimental literature supporting prescribed burning is in need of greater managerial relevance that can be obtained by directly addressing spatial scale, temporal scale, and interaction with other disturbances, including drought and grazing. Reliance on information from single fires applied on small plots tracked for a relatively short time interval greatly constrains inferences and application to ecosystem management and information should be applied with caution. Therefore, conservation purposes need to incorporate temporal dynamics to the extent that this information is available. The complex interaction of scientific knowledge, social concerns, and variable policies across regions are major limitations to the successful and critical restoration of fire regimes. © 2016 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Transition of Vegetation States Positively Affects Harvester Ants in the Great Basin, United StatesInvasions by non-native plants can alter ecosystems such that new ecological states are reached, but less is known about how these transitions influence animal populations. Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) ecosystems are experiencing state changes because of fire and invasion by exotic annual grasses. Our goal was to study the effects of these state changes on the Owyhee and western harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex salinus Olsen and P. occidentalis Cresson, respectively). We sampled 358 1-ha plots across the northern Great Basin,which captured unburned and burned conditions across 1-31 years postfire. Our results indicated an immediate and consistent change in vegetation states fromshrubland to grassland between 1 and 31 years postfire. Harvester ant occupancy was unrelated to time since fire, whereas we observed a positive effect of fire on nest density. Similarly, we discovered that fire and invasion by exotic annuals were weak predictors of harvester ant occupancy but strong predictors of nest density. Occupancy of harvester ants wasmore likely in areas with finer-textured soils, low precipitation, abundant native forbs, and low shrub cover. Nest densitywas higher in arid locations that recently burned and exhibited abundant exotic annual and perennial (exotic and native) grasses. Finally,we discovered that burned areas that received postfire restoration had minimal influence on harvester ant occupancy or nest density compared with burned and untreated areas. These results suggest that fire-induced state changes from native shrublands to grasslands dominated by non-native grasses have a positive effect on density of harvester ants (but not occupancy), and that postfire restoration does not appear to positively or negatively affect harvester ants. Although wildfire and invasion by exotic annual grasses may negatively affect other species, harvester ants may indeed be one of the few winners among a myriad of losers linked to vegetation state changes within sagebrush ecosystems. © 2016 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.