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Shrub Microsite Influences Post-Fire Perennial Grass Establishment

Permanent URL:
http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/41952
File:
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Abstract:
Woody plants can cause localized increases in resources (i.e., resource islands) that can persist after fire and create a heterogeneous environment for restoration. Others have found that subcanopies have increased soil organic matter, nitrogen, and carbon and elevated post-fire soil temperature. We tested the hypothesis that burned sagebrush subcanopies would have increased seedling establishment and performance of post-fire seeded perennial bunchgrasses compared to burned interspaces. We used a randomized complete block design with five study sites located in southeast Oregon. The area was burned in a wildfire (2007) and reseeded in the same year with a seed mix that included non-native and native perennial bunchgrasses. Seedling density, height, and reproductive status were measured in October 2008 in burned subcanopy and interspace microsites. Non-native perennial grasses had greater densities than native species (P < 0.001) and were six times more abundant in burned subcanopies compared to burned interspaces (P < 0.001). Density of natives in burned subcanopies was 24-fold higher than burned interspaces (P == 0.043). Seedlings were taller in burned subcanopies compared to burned interspaces (P == 0.001). Subcanopy microsites had more reproductive seedlings than interspace microsites (P < 0.001). Our results suggest that under the fire conditions examined in this study, pre-burn shrub cover may be important to post-fire restoration of perennial grasses. Determining the mechanisms responsible for increased seeding success in subcanopy microsites may suggest tactics that could be used to improve existing restoration technologies.
Author(s):
Boyd Chad S. , Davies Kirk W.
Source:
Rangeland ecology & management 2010 3 v.63 no.2
Language:
English
Publisher:
Society for Range Management
Year:
2010
Collection:
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed