Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2006
Publication Date: 2/9/2007
Citation: Bates, J.D., Rhodes, E., Davies, K.W. 2007. Prescribed burning impacts on sage grouse dietary resources in eastern oregon [abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting. Papaer No. 29.
Technical Abstract: Fire in sagebrush steppe can enhance composition and/or productivity of forage species and invertebrates important to sage grouse. Response to fire is, however, highly variable and dependent on site potential, species composition, pre and post fire weather, fire severity, and time since fire. We evaluated prescribed fire impacts on sage grouse dietary resources in the Wyoming and mountain big sagebrush alliances in eastern Oregon. Results are also discussed in context with previous prescribed fire-sage grouse studies in Intermountain sagebrush alliances and wildfire in mid and high seral sagebrush steppe in eastern Oregon. Prescribed burning in the Wyoming big sagebrush alliance did not enhance biomass of perennial forbs important in grouse diets but did increase important dietary annual forbs. Fewer ants and arachnids were captured in burned compared to unburned treatments. Wildfire impacts to dietary perennial and annual forbs in the Wyoming big sagebrush alliance varied depending on species, association, and yearly weather patterns. Results from our studies support previous conclusions that there is limited potential to increase sage grouse dietary resources with prescribed fire in the Wyoming big sagebrush alliance. Because of the removal of sagebrush cover and the potential for cheatgrass to increase, wildfires in this alliance should be quickly suppressed. Prescribed burning in the mountain big sagebrush alliance in our studies was done to remove invading western juniper and restore herbaceous understories. Seven mountain big sagebrush associations were evaluated the first three years after fire. Total perennial and annual forb production and/or cover increased. However, only annual forb species important in grouse diets increased significantly, though the growing season for target perennial forbs was lengthened relative to unburned controls. Longer term evaluations after fire are needed to adequately determine forb response in the mountain big sagebrush alliance.