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Project ID: 01-3-3-34

Year: 2003

Date Started: 10/01/2003

Date Completed: 02/23/2009

Title: Effects of Fire on Biological Soil Crusts and Their Subsequent Recovery at the Great Basin Pinyon-Juniper Demonstration Area

Project Proposal Abstract: Biological soil crusts are a critical component of many arid and semiarid ecosystems in the western United States. Comprised primarily of cyanobacteria, algae, lichens and mosses living at or near the soil surface, these crusts play essential roles in soil stability and nutrient cycling. Little is known about the immediate response of biological soil crusts to various fire intensities, the secondary impacts to ecosystem functions that they perform, and the dynamics of post-fire recovery. Limited published data from Western shrubland and grassland communities indicate that the crusts are highly susceptible to wildfires and very slow to recover. Recovery of their ability to cycle nutrients and stabilize the soil surface can also be expected to be slow, although it remains undocumented. Information regarding the effects of fire on biological soil crust communities in the pinyon-juniper ecotype is missing. We propose to investigate these topics in conjunction with a prescribed burn in the pinyon-juniper ecotype at a demonstration site already funded by the Joint Fire Science Program in the central Great Basin. A prescribed burn is scheduled for the Fall of 2001 in the Shoshone Mountain Range on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Battle Mountain District of the Bureau of Land Management in central Nevada. We will determine preburn conditions in terms of biological soil crust cover, biomass, species composition and ecosystem function. The same parameters will be determined immediately after the burn and for two subsequent years. The study design will facilitate a determination of the role of the seral stage (stand density) of the pinyon-juniper community and the overstory species type on the nature and extent of damage to the biological soil crust and the dynamics of crust recovery.

Principal Investigator: Steven D. Warren

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Shrub Sciences Laboratory

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Jeff Johansen

John Carroll University

Biology Department

Co-Principal Investigator

Larry L. St.Clair

Brigham Young University

Department of Biology

Federal Cooperator

Jeanne C. Chambers

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Reno

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
view or print   3595 Journal Article Rangeland Ecology and Management
    4268 Invited Paper/Presentation Effects of Prescribed Fire on Biological Soil Crusts, and Their Subsequent Recovery in a Great Basin Juniper Woodland

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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