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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RANGELAND RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Grazing History Influences the Response of Sagebrush Plant communities to Fire

Authors
item DAVIES, KIRK
item SVEJCAR, ANTHONY
item BATES, JONATHAN

Submitted to: Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2009
Publication Date: November 17, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/45485
Citation: Davies, K.W., Svejcar, A.J., Bates, J.D. 2009. Grazing history influences the response of sagebrush plant communities to fire. p. 44-49. In: Range Field Day 2009: Progress Report. Oregon State University Special Report 1092. Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.

Interpretive Summary: Response to fire differed in moderately grazed areas compared to areas protected from livestock grazing since 1936. Long-term protection from livestock grazing resulted in cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasions following fire, while moderately grazed areas were not invaded. After burning, cheatgrass biomass production and density were more than 49- and 15-fold greater, respectively, in the areas protected from grazing than moderately grazed areas. These differences were still evident 14 years post-fire and demonstrate that grazing history can have significant influence on the ability of plant communities to tolerate fire. These results suggest that moderate levels of livestock grazing may be needed in sagebrush-steppe communities to protect the habitat of sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate wildlife species.

Technical Abstract: Response to fire differed in moderately grazed areas compared to areas protected from livestock grazing since 1936. Long-term protection from livestock grazing resulted in cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasions following fire, while moderately grazed areas were not invaded. After burning, cheatgrass biomass production and density were more than 49- and 15-fold greater, respectively, in the areas protected from grazing than moderately grazed areas. These differences were still evident 14 years post-fire and demonstrate that grazing history can have significant influence on the ability of plant communities to tolerate fire. These results suggest that moderate levels of livestock grazing may be needed in sagebrush-steppe communities to protect the habitat of sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate wildlife species.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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