Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2016
Publication Date: 1/29/2017
Citation: Gearhart, A.L., Davies, K.W. 2017. What we know and what we need to know about sagebrush restoration. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. Abstract proceedings of the 70th annual meeting. 1-222.
Technical Abstract: Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) steppe is one of the most imperiled ecosystems and covers vast areas in the western United States. We synthesized the literature on sagebrush restoration. Most literature focuses on Wyoming big sagebrush (A. tridentata Nutt. subsp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) likely because it is slow to recover and Wyoming big sagebrush communities are one of the least resilient sagebrush communities. We characterized the current body of literature in terms of restoration methods and identified knowledge gaps where more information is needed to improve restoration. We found successful restoration of big sagebrush appears to vary considerably by subspecies. Many broadcast seedings of Wyoming big sagebrush failed to establish sagebrush plants whereas outplantings generally have some survival (34% average four years post planting). Many reports of successful shrub establishment, regardless of restoration method, note favorable precipitation. Controlling existing vegetation may also be important to reduce competition. Critical knowledge gaps include the relationship between climatic conditions (temperature and precipitation) and sagebrush establishment and survival; effects of seed locality and adaptability, seeding rate recommendations, and planting depths on seedling emergence and survival; and long term effects of restoration efforts and practices in arid ecosystems where change is often measured in decades. Given the high treatment costs and limited success in Wyoming big sagebrush restoration, preservation of existing Wyoming big sagebrush communities should be a priority.