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Project ID: 05-2-1-18

Year: 2005

Date Started: 06/30/2005

Date Completed: 02/23/2009

Title: Reducing Wildfire Risk by Integration of Prescribed Burning and Biological Control of Invasive Saltcedar (Tamarix spp)

Project Proposal Abstract: The invasion of western riparian areas by non-native saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) has converted these ecosystems from fire-resistant stands into fire-prone areas with high volume and near-continuous distribution of fine-textured fuels susceptible to wildfire during all seasons, as well as creating a host of other negative ecological and economic impacts. Fuel management typically consists of costly mechanical and chemical weed control, infrequently including fire treatments for biomass reduction; however, such methods are rarely sustainable or cost-effective, due to poor `kill' and rapid re-growth from basal crowns. The importation of specialist herbivores to reduce invasive weed biomass (classical biological control) offers great potential for enhancing weed control, and the introduction of the saltcedar leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata) in northern Nevada has been successful in causing widespread defoliation of plants in the region. Thus, the integration of biocontrol with prescribed fire may offer a novel and cost-effective means to reduce wildland fire risk and promote recovery of less fire-prone vegetation assemblages. We propose to establish a demonstration study site that involves prescribed burns at our current biocontrol research sites. Burns will be conducted at two locations exposed to damage from biocontrol agents for different periods of time, and at two times of the year, to determine how prescribed fire can be most effectively integrated with weed biocontrol. Fuel abundance, vertical and horizontal distribution, and ignition capacity will be assessed prior to burning. Fire dynamics and temperatures will be monitored using dataloggers and thermocouple sand to demonstrate the saltcedar/fire relationship and how it is influenced by biocontrol. Post-fire monitoring will emphasize both the relationship between fire behavior and mortality of saltcedar, and the responses of fuel structure and associated plant species to treatments with the goal of promoting restoration of fire-resistant native plant assemblages. We will hold site visits and conduct a workshop for federal resource and fire managers, and other interested parties, to demonstrate how to apply future fire prescriptions for saltcedar fuels reduction and native plant restoration. Both saltcedar biological control and saltcedar-fueled fires are realities today in western riparian habitats and both are occurring without a full understanding of variability in outcome and occurrence. The proposed research will improve our ability to manage fuels in ecosystems invaded by saltcedar which is relevant to Task 2 of the JFSP 2005 announcement for proposals.

Principal Investigator: Matthew L. Brooks

Agency/Organization: USGS-Geological Survey

Branch or Dept: WERC-Yosemite Field Station

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Pablo R. Arroyave

BOR-Bureau of Reclamation

Lahontan Basin Area Office

Co-Principal Investigator

Tom L. Dudley

University of California-Santa Barbara

Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology

Federal Cooperator

Terry Reed

BLM-Bureau of Land Management

Winnemucca District Office

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   3415 Journal Article International Journal of Wildland Fire
    2823 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Plant Invasions on Fire Regimes
    2824 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Fire and Fire Management Activities on Mojave Desert Vegetation
    6213 Poster Biological Control of Saltcedar (Tamarix app.) in the Great Basin, and Prescribed Fire as a Restoration Tool

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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