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Fire is known to structure tree populations, but the role of broad-scale climate variability is less clear. For example, the influence of climatic “teleconnections” (the relationship between oceanic–atmospheric fluctuations and anomalous weather patterns across broad scales) on forest age structure is relatively unexplored. We sampled semiarid piñon–juniper (Pinus edulis–Juniperus osteosperma) woodlands in western Colorado, USA, to test the hypothesis that woodland age structures are shaped by climate, including links to oceanic–atmospheric fluctuations, and by past fires and livestock grazing. Low-severity surface fire was lacking, as fire scars were absent, and did not influence woodland densities, but stand-replacing...
Piñons and junipers, that dominate many semi-arid landscapes in the western United States, have invaded some sagebrush and grassland areas and possibly increased in density since EuroAmerican settlement. Exclusion of fire by livestock grazing and intentional suppression is thought to have been a cause of these changes. National assessments suggest that many woodlands have missed one or more low-severity surface fires and are thus in poor condition, requiring restoration. We undertook a systematic review of seven questions about fire history, fire severity, and the role of fire in these woodlands to evaluate the scientific basis for the national assessment. First, unless piñons and junipers record fire by means of...
Cheatgrass, a non-native annual grass, dominates millions of hectares in semiarid ecosystems of the Intermountain West (USA). Post-fire invasions can reduce native species diversity and alter ecological processes. To curb cheatgrass invasion, land managers often seed recently burned areas with perennial competitor species. We sampled vegetation within burned (1–9 years post-fire) and nearby unburned (representing pre-fire) piñon–juniper (Pinus edulis–Juniperus osteosperma) woodland and sagebrush (Artemisia sp.) in western Colorado to analyze variables that might explain cheatgrass cover after fire. A multiple regression model suggests higher cheatgrass cover after fire with: (1) sagebrush v. piñon–juniper;...

    map background search result map search result map Historical fire and multidecadal drought as context for piñon–juniper woodland restoration in western Colorado Historical fire and multidecadal drought as context for piñon–juniper woodland restoration in western Colorado