The sage-grouse habitat mortgage: Effective conifer management in space and time
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CitationBoyd, C. S., Kerby, J. D., Svejcar, T. J., Bates, J. D., Johnson, D. D., & Davies, K. W. (2017). The sage-grouse habitat mortgage: Effective conifer management in space and time. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 70(1), 141–148.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractManagement of conservation-reliant species can be complicated by the need to manage ecosystem processes that operate at extended temporal horizons. One such process is the role of fire in regulating abundance of expanding conifers that disrupt sage-grouse habitat in the northern Great Basin of the United States. Removing conifers by cutting has a beneficial effect on sage-grouse habitat. However, effects may last only a few decades because conifer seedlings are not controlled and the seed bank is fully stocked. Fire treatment may be preferred because conifer control lasts longer than for mechanical treatments. The amount of conservation needed to control conifers at large temporal and spatial scales can be quantified by multiplying land area by the time needed for conifer abundance to progress to critical thresholds (i.e., "conservation volume"). The contribution of different treatments in arresting conifer succession can be calculated by dividing conservation volume by the duration of treatment effect. We estimate that fire has approximately twice the treatment life of cutting at time horizons approaching 100 yr, but, has high up-front conservation costs due to temporary loss of sagebrush. Cutting has less up-front conservation costs because sagebrush is unaffected, but it is more expensive over longer management time horizons because of decreased durability. Managing conifers within sage-grouse habitat is difficult because of the necessity to maintain the majority of the landscape in sagebrush habitat and because the threshold for negative conifer effects occurs fairly early in the successional process. The time needed for recovery of sagebrush creates limits to fire use in managing sage-grouse habitat. Utilizing a combination of fire and cutting treatments is most financially and ecologically sustainable over long time horizons involved in managing conifer-prone sage-grouse habitat.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of The Society for Range Management. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).