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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Climate Change on Early Plant Establishment - Maintenance and Restoration of Native Plant Communities in the Great Basin

Authors
item Hardegree, Stuart
item Pierson, Frederick
item Johnson, Gregory
item Flerchinger, Gerald
item Hanson, Clayton
item Wight, J

Submitted to: Proceedings of Agricultural Research Service Global Change Workshop
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The Bureau of Land Management estimates that resource values are already impaired or threatened on at least 2.8 million hectares of rangeland in the Great Basin and Columbia Plateau. A major contributor to resource degradation on these lands is the prevalence and expansion of populations of non-native weedy species after wildfire. Predictions of global climate change complicate future management scenarios for these rangelands. Opportunistic weedy species are especially well suited to take advantage of ecosystem disturbance caused by climate change. New technology must be developed to assess potential climate change effects on the distribution of wildland plant species and to restore and maintain native plant diversity under current and future climatic scenarios. The Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho, is developing research and management tools to characterize seasonal patterns of seedbed microclimate as they relate to germination and establishment of both desirable and undesirable wildland plant species. Our long-term goal is to develop a system that will identify the technically feasible management options for restoration and maintenance of appropriately diverse plant communities on disturbed or deteriorated rangelands in the Intermountain west.

Technical Abstract: Climate change is expected to have a large impact on water resources through its effect on the hydrologic cycle. Climatic change effects on plant water use may result in a redistribution of wildland plant species and plant community types. Current predictions of future climate indicate a much faster rate of change than has occurred in the past. Rapid change may limit natural species migration and adversely affect plant productivity and native plant diversity. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that resource values are already impaired or threatened on at least 2.8 million hectares of rangeland in the Great Basin and Columbia Plateau. A major contributor to resource degradation on these lands is the prevalence and expansion of populations of non-native weedy species after wildfire. During the 1992 fire season, wildfire burned over 80,000 hectares of BLM rangeland in Idaho. Plans for the 1993 fiscal year called for reseeding more than 36,000 hectares at a total rehabilitation cost of almost 3.5 million dollars. The Northwest Watershed Research Center is developing research and management tools to characterize seasonal patterns of seedbed microclimate as they relate to germination and establishment of both desirable and undesirable wildland plant species. Our long-term goal is to develop a system that will identify the technically feasible management options for restoration and maintenance of appropriately diverse plant communities on disturbed or deteriorated rangelands in the Intermountain west.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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