2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine optimal technique and irrigation protocol for the establishment of native plant species on a site that was formerly used for irrigated agriculture.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
At Rosaschi Ranch, on the East Walker River, we will use experiments to determine optimal restoration protocols for restoring sagebrush shrublands on formerly irrigated fields. The design will compare levels of irrigation, mulching, and alternative seed mixes, incorporating two levels of functional diversity. Irrigation will be the main plot factor, and the mulching X seeding treatment will be the split plot factor. There will be 5 replications of each treatment combination. Ten separate study plots, 1.5 acres in size, will be established. Five will be irrigated and 5 will serve as controls for the irrigation treatment. Each study plot will be subdivided into seeding/mulching treatments in a split plot design with two levels of mulching (mulch, control) and two levels of seeding (high diversity, low diversity). Soil moisture monitoring will determine the extent of irrigation, which will take place as needed (depending on precipitation patterns) in the early part of each growing season. Research plots will be installed in 2008 and 2009 and irrigated in 2009 and 2010. Data collection will continue through 2012. Density plots will be established at random intervals along transects in each experimental block, and emergence and survival of seeded species will be response variables.
This research supports object 1: Identify and characterize biotic and abiotic conditions and processes that affect plant community factors and ecosystem dynamics on healthy and degraded rangelands to improve the ability to predict how rangelands will respond to changing environmental conditions and alternative management practices. Specifically Sub-objective 1.1: Determine how land management history, the reproductive ecology of invasive annuals, and biotic interactions affect the structure and function of selected Great Basin ecosystems.
The project is in its fourth and final year of data analysis, report and manuscript preparation. Collaborators on the project include USDI FWS, USDA NRCS, USDA Forest Service RMRS, USDA Forest Service, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Memorandum of Understanding #08-IA-11041701-065). All collaborators attended a meeting in Carson City, Nevada, in October 2011, where the USDA ARS and USFS RMRS presented their preliminary restoration guidelines report. A final meeting was held in Carson City March 1, 2012 where all collaborators agreed on a spatially explicit phased restoration plan for the uplands. April 1, 2012 the USDA ARS and USFS RMRS submitted the final restoration plan to all the collaborators. This plan represents the transfer of restoration technology to the Forest Service management unit of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. A manuscript is in preparation detailing the experimental results. The experimental results will be presented at the Ecological Society of America 97th annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, May 5-10, 2012.