Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/22/2007
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
Citation: Davies, K.W. 2008. Recovery and structural characteristics of mechanically treated wyoming big sagebrush. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. Society for Range Management Meeting. Range & Pasture Management Posters #13. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh) steppe plant communities are common across the Intermountain West. These plant communities provide critical wildlife habitat and serve as a forage base for livestock production. Sagebrush is frequently mechanically treated to improve wildlife habitat and forage production. However, information is lacking describing the influence of mechanical treatments on structural characteristics of Wyoming big sagebrush. Information detailing post-mechanical treatment recovery of Wyoming big sagebrush stand characteristics is also limited. In southeast Oregon, I randomly selected Wyoming big sagebrush stands that had been mechanically treated with a rotary mower 0, 2, 4, and 6 years prior to sampling. For each post-treatment time interval, six treated sites were blocked with six untreated (control) sites. Wyoming big sagebrush structural characteristics were sampled at all sites in the winter of 2007. For all the post-treatment time intervals sampled, Wyoming big sagebrush cover, density, height, and canopy volumes were less in the mechanical treated compared to the control plots (P < 0.05). However, the percent recovery of cover, density, height, and canopy volumes were strongly positively correlated to the length of time since treatment (R2 > 0.70, P < 0.05). Sagebrush cover in the mechanical treated plots increased from 11% to 41% of the control as the recovery period increased from zero to six years. By the sixth year post-treatment, sagebrush density in the treated plots was 75% of control plots. The influence of mechanical treatment on Wyoming big sagebrush appears to be relatively short-lived. If the project goals are to have short-term influence on Wyoming big sagebrush stand characteristics, mechanical treatment would be an effective tool. If the project objectives are to create a longer lasting mosaic of stand characteristics, re-treatment or the use of other tools would be required.