Location: Great Basin Rangelands ResearchTitle: Establishing big sagebrush into perennial grass stands
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/4/2018
Publication Date: 2/10/2019
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.N. 2019. Establishing big sagebrush into perennial grass stands. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. 72:110.
Technical Abstract: Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is a dominant shrub species on millions of acres of rangelands throughout the Intermountain West, and plays a critical role in the health and diversity of many wildlife species. Natural recruitment of Wyoming big sagebrush is well reported, yet the natural recruitment of Wyoming big sagebrush following wildfire is very limited. Wyoming big sagebrush does not re-sprout following wildfires, it does not build persistent seed banks, and it does not have an active wind or granivore dispersal system. Restoration practices to re-establish Wyoming big sagebrush on tens of thousands of degraded habitats has largely been met with sub-marginal success, yet the need to restore or rehabilitate Wyoming big sagebrush has become increasingly important due to extensive losses of big sagebrush habitats, fragmentation, and sensitive sagebrush obligate species. Lack of success from seeding rangelands either by ground application or aerially has prompted some resource managers to look more closely at transplanting methodologies. Transplanting of Wyoming big sagebrush is largely done using cone-size containers or bare-stock plants and is recommended to be conducted in the spring. This 3-year study was initiated in 2012 to record the success and failure of spring versus fall transplanting methodologies. Fall transplanting success averaged 65% with a range of 41-82%, while spring transplants averaged 41% with a range of 13-65%. Improving the ability of resource professionals to restore Wyoming big sagebrush back into habitats that have been devastated by wildfires and other disturbances improves not only wildlife habitats, but improves ecosystem functions including nutrient cycling, soil erosion, watersheds, carbon storage in soils, and plant and animal diversity.