The concepts of ecological resilience and resistance to invasive annual grasses have been used to develop an understanding of sagebrush ecosystem response to disturbances like wildfire and management actions to reduce fuels and restore native ecosystems (Chambers et al. 2014 a, b, 2019 a, b). A multi-scale framework that uses these concepts to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration at landscape scales and to determine effective management strategies at local scales has been developed by Chambers and her colleagues (2016, 2017c, 2019 c). Regional SageSTEP (Sagebrush Treatment Evaluation Project) data coupled with west-wide AIM (Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring) data provide a unique opportunity to refine the predictors of resilience and resistance and extend the existing multi-scale framework effort.
SageSTEP is testing the effectiveness of common management treatments (woody species removals, herbicides, prescribed fire) at 16 sites arrayed across the Great Basin. Detailed weather, soils, and vegetation data have been collected at these sites over a period of 10 years. AIM data assesses site conditions on federally managed lands across the western U.S. This project will couple the site scale data from SageSTEP and AIM with geospatial information on climatic regimes, geologic and soil characteristics, and vegetation productivity and cover to refine our ability to predict relative resilience to disturbance and resistance not only to invasive annual grasses but other common invaders.
For more information about fuel reduction, fire protection, fire use, and ecosystem restoration explore further research at SageSTEP and the Great Basin Fire Science Exchange. This project is included in the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science.
The project will incorporate current vegetation cover and composition, soil texture, soil water holding capacity, solar radiation, topography, and climate to estimate the relative capacity of sagebrush ecosystems to recover from disturbance and their relative resistance to invasive annual grass and other nonnative invaders.