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Project ID: 01B-3-3-06

Year: 2002

Date Started: 06/14/2002

Date Completed: 02/06/2007

Title: Interactions of Burn Season and Ecological Condition on Ecosystem Response to Fire in the Mountain Big Sagebrush Communities: Information Necessary for Restoration and Postfire Rehabilitation

Project Proposal Abstract: A predictive capability of the response of landscapes to fire based upon ecological condition and burn characteristics would be of value for managers concerned with ecosystem restoration or postfire stabilization and rehabilitation. This is particularly true in the Great Basin where landscapes have been dramatically altered in composition, structure, and fire regime. In many sagebrush-dominated landscapes, fire exclusion has resulted in unprecedented rates of juniper encroachment onto lands formerly occupied by grasslands, shrub steppe, or aspen. In contrast, land uses and invasions of exotic annuals have increased the occurrence of fire. Even though the Great Basin is the largest land cover type in the Lower 48 states of the USA, it remains among the least studied. This includes the natural role of fire in its varied ecosystems and how land use, exotic plant invasions, and disruptions of fire regimes have affected ecosystem structure and function. Studies are needed to determine under what circumstances are fires beneficial to the maintenance and restoration of Sagebrush-dominated ecosystems and under what circumstances do they degrade biotic composition. The primary objective of this proposed research is to determine under what ecological and seasonal conditions would fires facilitate an increase in exotic species and under what conditions do native species positively respond. Knowledge of the ecosystem processes that interact to create the vegetation response to fires is of great importance for ecosystem restoration and to assist managers in implementing proper post fire stabilization and rehabilitation projects. The research will be conducted at the Lava Beds National Monument. To unravel the linkages between fire and environmental characteristics, we will measure the fuel, nutrient, and vegetation changes to prescribed fire conducted in two seasons (spring and fall) and in three different states of ecological condition and recent fire history. All experimental units will be located in the same common habitat type and soil series (i.e., mountain big sagebrushlbluebunch wheatgrass-Thurber's needlegrass). The different ecological states (condition classes) are:(l) fire exclusion with juniper encroachment but negligible exotic grass invasion; (2) fire exclusion with some juniper encroachment and exotic grass invasion; (3) increased fire frequency with a dominance of invaders and exotic annuals. Fire behavior, N, and P cycling, and vegetation response to spring and fall burning will be compared between these three ecological states. We hypothesize that land use history and current ecological status affects both fire behavior and ecosystem response to burning. The results of this study will be of value for developing protocols for evaluating and formulating ecological restoration through prescribed burning as well as post fire stabilization and rehabilitation projects. In this proposal, we address key aspects of Task 2: ...studies to determine local biological, social, physical and other effects of wildland fire, fuels treatments, or postfire stabilization/rehabilitation actions. In addition this proposal directly addresses Task 3: Scientific research support is often needed to clarify or understand issues associated with fire management planning and program implementation at the local level.

Principal Investigator: John B. Kauffman

Agency/Organization: Oregon State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Fisheries & Wildlife

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Al Augustine

NPS-National Park Service

Lava Beds National Monument

Co-Principal Investigator

Mary Rasmussen

NPS-National Park Service

Crater Lake National Park

Co-Principal Investigator

Robin D. Wills

NPS-National Park Service

Pacific West Regional Office

Federal Cooperator

John B. Kauffman

Oregon State University

Department of Fisheries & Wildlife

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

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
    180 MS Thesis Vegetation Response to Prescried Fire in Mountain Big Sagebrush Ecosystems at Lava Beds National Monument, CA (L.M. Ellsworth)
    734 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Results will be presented at scientific meetings and symposia.
    1115 Poster Multiple Posters
    1116 Invited Paper/Presentation Interactions of Burn Season and Ecological Condition on Vegetation Response to Fire at Lava Beds National Monument

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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