Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2005
Publication Date: 2/12/2006
Citation: Davies, K.W., Bates, J.D., Miller, R.F. The impacts of burning wyoming big sagebrush on community resource capture and use [abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting. Paper No. 81.
Technical Abstract: Large areas in the Intermountain West have lost Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh) from their plant communities as a result of wildfire and brush control treatments. The consequences of sagebrush loss to community resource capture and use has not been well quantified. In this study the effects of Wyoming big sagebrush removal by burning on community resource capture and use was investigated. Treatments were sagebrush removed with burning (burned) and sagebrush present (control). In the first two post-burn years (2003 and 2004), total biomass production was 2.3 and 1.2 times greater, respectively, in the control than the burned treatment indicating resources were not fully exploited. Greater herbaceous production and photosynthetic rates in the burned treatment indicated resources were more available to herbaceous vegetation in the burned than control treatment. Total soil carbon, organic matter, and nitrogen pools were not different between treatments. However, inorganic nitrogen (NO3-, NH4+) pools were greater in the soils of the burned than control treatment. Soil water content in spring was greater in the control than burned treatment in both years of the study, which may indicate reduced precipitation capture when sagebrush was removed. Removal of Wyoming big sagebrush decreases community resource capture and use the first two years after fire. Removing sagebrush with fire opens the site up to herbaceous colonization. Opening up sites can allow for establishing/increasing desirable vegetation. However, if weeds are present, opening up the site to colonization is a potential concern.