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Resource specialists at Dinosaur National Monument utilize both planned and unplanned wildland ignitions in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)--dominated plant communities to restore successional processes, maintain vegetation vigor, and promote diversified landscapes. Short- and long-term effects of prescribed burning on small mammal populations are not well understood. The objectives of this study were to (1) compare small mammal species richness, similarity, and diversity between paired burned and unburned treatment plots, and (2) assess long-term trends of small mammal community responses to burning. Five paired burned/unburned sites having similar vegetation, soils, elevation, and annual precipitation were...
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Historical disturbance regimes are often considered a critical element in maintaining native plant communities. However, the response of plant communities to disturbance may be fundamentally altered as a consequence of invasive plants, climate change, or prior disturbances. The appropriateness of historical disturbance patterns under modern conditions and the interactions among disturbances are issues that ecologists must address to protect and restore native plant communities. We evaluated the response of Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh plant communities to their historical disturbance regime compared to other disturbance regimes. The historical disturbance regime of these...
Pathogens and herbivores can severely reduce host fitness, potentially leading to altered succession rates and changes in plant community composition. Thus, to predict vegetation dynamics under climate change, it is necessary to understand how plant pathogens and herbivores will respond. Pathogens and herbivores are predicted to increase under climate warming because the amount of time available for growth and reproduction will increase. To test this prediction, we used a warming experiment in which heaters were suspended over a natural montane meadow for 12 years. In the summer of 2002, we quantified damage by all the observable (aboveground) pathogens and herbivores on six of the most common plant species (Artemisia...
Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) comprises up to 99% of the winter and 50% of the summer diets of pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis). Few animals specialize on such plants as sagebrush, which contain high levels of plant chemicals that can be toxic. We investigated the nutritional requirements of pygmy rabbits and their ability and propensity to consume sagebrush alone and as part of a mixed diet. We compared diet choices of pygmy rabbits with that of a generalist forager, the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). Pygmy rabbits had a moderately low nitrogen requirement (306.5 mg N/kg0.75/d), but a relatively high energy requirement, needing 750.8 kJ digestible energy/kg0.75/d to maintain their body mass...
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations throughout much of their range have been declining. These declines have largely been attributed to the loss or deterioration of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitat. In response government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service are cost-sharing on management practices designed to improve habitat conditions for sage-grouse. Little is known regarding sage-grouse response to various sagebrush management techniques. We studied the effects of reducing sagebrush canopy cover using 2 mechanical (Dixie harrow and Lawson aerator) treatments and 1 chemical (Tebuthiuron) treatment on greater sage-grouse use...
We surveyed for pygmy rabbits, Brachylagus idahoensis, in Summer 2003 in Nevada (USA) to better determine the distribution, habitat, and soil patterns of this potentially threatened species. Pygmy rabbits and/or their sign (burrows and fecal pellets) were observed at 261 of 643 survey sites and their known distribution was extended 12 km to the south. Data on topography, soil, lithology, and hydrology were compared between sagebrush habitats where pygmy rabbits and/or their sign was present and absent. A predictive equation was produced and used as a model for characterizing habitats where pygmy rabbits were present. This model successfully explained the occurrence of pygmy rabbits and/or their sign on 56.7% of...
Aim: Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a shrub-steppe obligate species of western North America, currently occupies only half its historical range. Here we examine how broad-scale, long-term trends in landscape condition have affected range contraction. Location: Sagebrush biome of the western USA. Methods: Logistic regression was used to assess persistence and extirpation of greater sage-grouse range based on landscape conditions measured by human population (density and population change), vegetation (percentage of sagebrush habitat), roads (density of and distance to roads), agriculture (cropland, farmland and cattle density), climate (number of severe and extreme droughts) and range periphery....
Nitric oxide (NO) is a relatively short-lived trace gas that reacts with oxygen in the troposphere to produce the air pollutant ozone. It also reacts with water vapor to form nitric and nitrous acids, which acidify precipitation and increase N deposition. Models currently used to predict soil NO fluxes are based on the assumption that NO flux is proportional to the gross rate of nitrification or N mineralization; however, this assumption has not been tested because of the difficulty in measuring gross N-cycling rates in situ. We measured soil NO fluxes, gross and net N-cycling rates, and a variety of other soil characteristics in the forest floor and intact soil cores at nine undisturbed forest and rangeland ecosystems...
Climate responses of sagebrush are needed to inform land managers of the stability and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems, which are an important but threatened habitat type. We evaluated climate responses of sagebrush using two approaches: (1) experimental manipulations of temperature and precipitation for natural plants in the field, and (2) assessment of how climate adaptation and weather have affected sagebrush seeding efforts on nearly 25 large-scale sagebrush seeding projects done over the past several decades. Experimental warming increased growth of sagebrush in high-elevation meadows in the Teton Mountains, but had marginal or no effect at lower elevations sites (near Twin Falls and Boise, Idaho, respectively)....
A number of modeling approaches have been developed to predict the impacts of climate change on species distributions, performance and abundance. The stronger the agreement from models that represent different processes and are based on distinct and independent sources of information, the greater the confidence we can have in their predictions. Evaluating the level of confidence is particularly important when predictions are used to guide conservation or restoration decisions. We used a multi-model approach to predict climate change impacts on big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), the dominant plant species on roughly 43 million hectares in the western United States and a key resource for many endemic wildlife species....
Understanding how annual climate variation affects population growth rates across a species’ range may help us anticipate the effects of climate change on species distribution and abundance. We predict that populations in warmer or wetter parts of a species’ range should respond negatively to periods of above average temperature or precipitation, respectively, whereas populations in colder or drier areas should respond positively to periods of above average temperature or precipitation. To test this, we estimated the population sensitivity of a common shrub species, big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), to annual climate variation across its range. Our analysis includes 8175 observations of year-to-year change in...
Land managers are responsible for developing effective strategies for conserving and restoring Great Basin ecosystems in the face of invasive species, conifer expansion, and altered fire regimes. A warming climate is magnifying the effects of these threats and adding urgency to implementation of management practices that will maintain or improve ecosystem functioning. This Factsheet Series was developed to provide land managers with brief summaries of the best available information on contemporary management issues to facilitate science delivery and foster effective management. Each peer-reviewed factsheet was developed as a collaborative effort among knowledgeable scientists and managers. The series begins with...
Bromus tectorum is a dominant winter annual weed in cold deserts of western North America. We followed patterns of seed carry-over and abundance of the pathogen Pyrenophora semeniperda over 5 years at B. tectorum-dominated shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia) and sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) sites in southern Idaho. We hypothesised that more seeds could potentially carry over at the drier shadscale site because of minimal autumn precipitation, but that P. semeniperda, a pathogen that primarily kills dormant seeds, would have more impact at the drier site, where a higher density of dormant seeds would likely be present in the early spring seedbank. Successful first-year seed carry-over was higher in years with...
For much of the western USA, precipitation occurs in pulses, the nature of which determine soil water potential and plant physiological performance. This research utilized three experiments to examine the sensitivity of photosynthesis and water relations for two widespread Great Basin Desert shrub species, Artemisia tridentata (which has both deep and shallow roots) and Purshia tridentata (which reportedly has only deep roots), to (1) variation in pulse magnitude size, (2) the kinetics of responses to pulses, and (3) the relationship between pulse-size and antecedent soil water content. At the study site in the southwestern Great Basin Desert, USA, summer rainfall exhibits a greater frequency of larger-sized events,...
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Estimating species abundance is important for land managers, especially for monitoringconservation efforts. The two main survey methods for estimating avian abundance are point counts and transects. Previous comparisons of these two methods have either been limited to a single species or have not included detection probability. During the 2012 breeding season, we compared and assessed the efficiency (precision for amount of effort) of point count time of detection (PCTD) and dependent double-observer transect (TRMO) methods based on detection probabilities and abundance estimates of five species of songbirds that use a range of habitats in a prairie system in Montana dominated by sagebrush and grassland vegetation....
The ecological integrity of Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems in the Intermountain West (U.S.A.) has been diminished by synergistic relationships among human activities, spread of invasive plants, and altered disturbance regimes. An aggressive effort to restore Sagebrush habitats is necessary if we are to stabilize or improve current habitat trajectories and reverse declining population trends of dependent wildlife. Existing economic resources, technical impediments, and logistic difficulties limit our efforts to a fraction of the extensive area undergoing fragmentation, degradation, and loss. We prioritized landscapes for restoring Sagebrush habitats within the intermountain western region of the United States...


map background search result map search result map Interaction of historical and nonhistorical disturbances maintains native plant communities Fire effects on small mammal communities in Dinosaur National Monument Comparison of removal-based methods for estimating abundance of five species of prairie songbirds Fire effects on small mammal communities in Dinosaur National Monument Interaction of historical and nonhistorical disturbances maintains native plant communities Comparison of removal-based methods for estimating abundance of five species of prairie songbirds