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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310534

Research Project: Restoring and Managing Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: An introduction to the sagebrush steppe

item Svejcar, Anthony

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2014
Publication Date: 1/30/2015
Citation: Svejcar, A.J. 2015. An introduction to the sagebrush steppe[Abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. p. 45.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The sagebrush steppe is generally considered the most extensive rangeland biome in the western U.S., covering about 100 million acres. This area has undergone tremendous change in the past 12,000 years, especially the western portion. At its peak during the Pleistocene, Lake Bonneville (Great Salt Lake is the remnant) was about the size of Lake Michigan and was more than 1000 feet deep. Further west, Lake Lahonton was about 8% of Nevada’s surface area. Lakefront property is a little more scarse these days. But one legacy of the past is that there is tremendous spatial variation in this region. There is also great variation from east to west within the sagebrush steppe. There is a trend toward increasing precipitation from west to east , but also a major shift in timing. The western sagebrush steppe has a winter/spring precipitation regime, whereas the eastern portion is more spring/summer. Care must be taken in making broad generalizations across the entire biome. For example, the cool season precipitation and warm season drought of the western sagebrush steppe makes it more prone to annual grass dominance and large wildfires. Some issues, such as annual grass responses to atmospheric CO2 will be in effect across the biome. Many of the presentations which follow are focused on the western portion of the sagebrush steppe, but the general approaches to management and restoration should be readily adaptable to the entire biome.