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Project ID: 00-2-15

Year: 2001

Date Started: 01/18/2001

Date Completed: 10/04/2004

Title: A Demonstration Area on Ecosystem Response to Watershed-Scale Burns in Great Basin Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands

Project Proposal Abstract: Since European settlement of the Great Basin about 130 years ago, pinyon and juniper have exhibited significant increases in both area and stand densities. Progressive increases in woody and fine fuel loads coupled with the invasion of a highly flamable annual grass, cheatgrass, have resulted in dramatic increases in fire frequency, severity and size in the woodlands. To prevent the widespread deterioration of the woodlands and their associated communities, it will be necessary to implement proactive prescribed burning programs prior to stand closure and before cheatgrass dominance. This project would provide a demonstration watershed for illustrating both the feasibility and ecological effects of large-scale prescribed fire on pinyon-juniper dominated ecosystems to managers, researchers, and the public. Objectives include: (I) Illustrate the use of a watershed-scale approach to conducting prescribed bums; (2) Provide information on the costs associated with conducting a watershed-scale bum project; (3) Determine the recovery thresholds and successional trajectories for vegetation communities that have different stand densities of pinyon and juniper, i.e., early, mid, and late seral stands with low, intermediate, and high tree densities, and that occur at different elevations and aspects within the watersheds; (4) Determine the changes in fuel loads that occur with increasing stand densities of pinyon and juniper; (5) Examine the influence of differences in stand density and topographic position on soil properties that influence recovery potential and soil erosion; (6) Evaluate the effects of large-scale prescribed bum projects on stream channels, sedimentation and water quality. (7) Examine the effects of the burn on the species richness and occurrence of taxa shown to exhibit quantifiable responses to similar disturbances, i.e., butterflies. It would be a collaborative effort between the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management, Battle Mountain District. In addition to providing a demonstration area, it would be used to develop guidelines for evaluating the effects of stand density/seral stage on vegetation community and soil response to prescribedbums. Information on the changes in fuel loads that occur as stand density increases would be obtained. Also, much needed information on the effects of watershed-scale bums on stream channels, sedimentation and water quality and an important taxa in semi-arid, intermittent systems would be gathered.

Principal Investigator: Robin J. Tausch

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Reno

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Michael C. Amacher

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Logan

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert R. Blank

ARS-Agricultural Research Service

Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit

Co-Principal Investigator

Erica X. Fleishman

University of California-Davis

John Muir Institute of the Environment

Co-Principal Investigator

Dru Germanoski

Lafayette College

Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences

Co-Principal Investigator

Desiderio Zamudio

Forest Service

Humboldt-Toiyabe NF-Ecology Team


Laurence Crabtree

Forest Service

Humboldt-Toiyabe NF-Mountain City Ranger District


Dave Hanley

Forest Service

Humboldt-Toiyabe NF-Mountain City Ranger District


Kenneth Smith

Merck Forest and Farmland Center

Federal Cooperator

Jeanne C. Chambers

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Reno

Project Locations


Great Basin

There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    1739 Government Publication Pinyon-Juniper Expansion and Prescribed Fire Effects on Soil in Great Basin Sagebrush Ecosystems
view or print   3178 Journal Article Conservation Biology
view or print   189 MS Thesis Refining the Umbrella Index Complex: An Application to Bird and Butterfly Communities in Montane Canyons in the Great Basin--C.J. Betrus
    184 Field Demonstration/Tour Demonstration Watershed
    3402 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Prescribed Fire on Soil and Plant Nutrient Dynamics in a Pinyon-Juniper Woodland
    3041 Conference/Symposia/Workshop The Importance of Event Sequencing on the Geomorphic Impact of Wildfire in the Central Great Basin
    3321 Conference/Symposia/Workshop A Successful Predictive Model of Species Richness Using Indicator Species
    3322 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Selecting Effective Umbrella Species for Protection and Management: The Umbrella Species Index
    3323 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Understory Community and Fuel Load Changes Associated with Varying Elevation and Pinyon-Juniper Dominance
    3324 Conference/Symposia/Workshop One-Hundred Years of Ecosystem Change and Ecosystem Loss in the Great Basin
    3325 Invited Paper/Presentation The Fauna of the Central Great Basin: Past, Present, and Future
    3326 Invited Paper/Presentation Integrating Ecology and Land Management in the American Outback
    6188 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Validation Tests of Predictive Models of Butterfly Occurrence
    6189 Invited Paper/Presentation Predictive Modeling of Butterfly Occurrence in the Great Basin Using Topographic Variables
    6245 Invited Paper/Presentation Climate Change, Vegetation Dynamics and Great Basin Ecosystem Development: Implications for Present and Future Changes

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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