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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: Native perennial forb variation between mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities

Authors
item Davies, Kirk
item Bates, Jonathan

Submitted to: Environmental Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2010
Publication Date: September 20, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/46154
Citation: Davies, K.W., Bates, J.D. 2010. Native perennial forb variation between mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities. Environmental Management. 46:452-458.

Interpretive Summary: Big sagebrush occupies large portions of the western United States and provides valuable wildlife habitat. However, information is lacking quantifying differences in native perennial forb characteristics between mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities. This information is critical to accurately evaluate the quality of habitat and forage that these communities can produce. We compared native perennial forb characteristics between mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities. Mountain big sagebrush plant communities compared to Wyoming big sagebrush communities had greater perennial forb biomass production and diversity. This information will assist land and wildlife managers in developing management plans and habitat guidelines in sagebrush plant communities.

Technical Abstract: Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) occupies large portions of the western United States and provides valuable wildlife habitat. However, information is lacking quantifying differences in native perennial forb characteristics between mountain big sagebrush (A. tridentata spp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle) and Wyoming big sagebrush (A. tridentata spp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh) plant communities. This information is critical to accurately evaluate the quality of habitat and forage that these communities can produce. To compare native perennial forb characteristics on sites dominated by these two subspecies of big sagebrush, we sampled 106 intact big sagebrush plant communities. Mountain big sagebrush plant communities produced almost 4.5-fold more perennial forb biomass and had greater native perennial forb species richness and diversity compared to Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities (P < 0.001). Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS) and multiple-response permutation procedure (MRPP) demonstrated that perennial forb composition varied between these plant communities (P < 0.001). Native perennial forb composition was more similar within plant communities grouped by big sagebrush subspecies than expected by chance (A = 0.112) and composition varied between community groups (P < 0.001). Indicator analysis did not identify any perennial forbs that were completely exclusive and faithful, but did identified several perennial forbs that were relatively good indicators of either mountain big sagebrush or Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities. Our results suggest that management plans and habitat guidelines should recognize differences in native perennial forb characteristics between mountain and Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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