Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2005
Publication Date: February 13, 2007
Citation: Davies, K.W., Bates, J.D., Miller, R.F. 2007. Relationships between environmental and vegetation characteristics: wyoming big sagebrush alliance[abstract]. Society for Range Management. Paper #82. Technical Abstract: The Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp. wyomingenis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh) alliance is the most extensive of the big sagebrush complex in the Intermountain West and is characterized by a wide range of environments and vegetation heterogeneity. However, the influence of environmental factors on vegetation heterogeneity has received limited attention. Describing relationships among environmental and vegetation characteristics may prove useful for restoration and management efforts. Environmental and vegetation characteristics were measured on 107 relatively undisturbed, late seral Wyoming big sagebrush sites across the northwestern portion of the sagebrush biome. Variation in perennial grass, perennial forb, and total herbaceous cover was correlated with incidental radiation and soil characteristics, particularly soil texture in the upper 15 cm of the profile. Total herbaceous cover variation was better explained by environmental factors (p < 0.0001, r2 = 0.52) than any other vegetation characteristic. Vegetation structural characteristics (visual obstruction and sagebrush height, volume, and density) exhibited weak or no relationships with measured environmental variables. The relationships among environmental factors and vegetation characteristics across the Wyoming big sagebrush alliance are of limited use to management because they do little to explain vegetation heterogeneity. The limited correlation among environmental factors and vegetation heterogeneity may be due to the large ecological amplitude and ecotypic variation of many of the plant species found throughout this region.