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A landscape approach for ecologically based management of Great Basin shrublands

Posted date: December 03, 2009
Publication Year: 
Authors: Wisdom, Michael J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.
Publication Series: 
Miscellaneous Publication
Source: Restoration Ecology. 17(5): 740-749.


Native shrublands dominate the Great Basin of western of North America, and most of these communities are at moderate or high risk of loss from non-native grass invasion and woodland expansion. Landscape-scale management based on differences in ecological resistance and resilience of shrublands can reduce these risks. We demonstrate this approach with an example that focuses on maintenance of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats for Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a bird species threatened by habitat loss. The approach involves five steps: (1) identify the undesired disturbance processes affecting each shrubland community type; (2) characterize the resistance and resilience of each shrubland type in relation to the undesired processes; (3) assess potential losses of shrublands based on their resistance, resilience, and associated risk; (4) use knowledge from these steps to design a landscape strategy to mitigate the risk of shrubland loss; and (5) implement the strategy with a comprehensive set of active and passive management prescriptions. Results indicate that large areas of the Great Basin currently provide Sage-grouse habitats, but many areas of sagebrush with low resistance and resilience may be lost to continued woodland expansion or invasion by non-native annual grasses. Preventing these losses will require landscape strategies that prioritize management areas based on efficient use of limited resources to maintain the largest shrubland areas over time. Landscape-scale approaches, based on concepts of resistance and resilience, provide an essential framework for successful management of arid and semiarid shrublands and their native species.


Wisdom, Michael J.; Chambers, Jeanne C. 2009. A landscape approach for ecologically based management of Great Basin shrublands. Restoration Ecology. 17(5): 740-749.