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Spatial variablility in cost and success of revegetation in a Wyoming big sagebrush community

Boyd, Chad S., Davies, Kirk W.
Environmental management 2012 v.50 no.3 pp. 441
Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis, capital, environmental factors, environmental impact, fire ecology, grasses, land restoration, landscapes, managers, perennials, plant competition, probability, soil, vegetation, wildfires, Oregon
The ecological integrity of the Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle and A. Young) alliance is being severely interrupted by post-fire invasion of non-native annual grasses. To curtail this invasion, successful post-fire revegetation of perennial grasses is required. Environmental factors impacting post-fire restoration success vary across space within the Wyoming big sagebrush alliance; however, most restorative management practices are applied uniformly. Our objectives were to define probability of revegetation success over space using relevant soil-related environmental factors, use this information to model cost of successful revegetation and compare the importance of vegetation competition and soil factors to revegetation success. We studied a burned Wyoming big sagebrush landscape in southeast Oregon that was reseeded with perennial grasses. We collected soil and vegetation data at plots spaced at 30 m intervals along a 1.5 km transect in the first two years post-burn. Plots were classified as successful ([5 seedlings/m2) or unsuccessful based on density of seeded species. Using logistic regression we found that abundance of competing vegetation correctly predicted revegetation success on 51 % of plots, and soil-related variables correctly predicted revegetation performance on 82.4 % of plots. Revegetation estimates varied from $167.06 to $43,033.94/ha across the 1.5 km transect based on probability of success, but were more homogenous at larger scales. Our experimental protocol provides managers with a technique to identify important environmental drivers of restoration success and this process will be of value for spatially allocating logistical and capital expenditures in a variable restoration environment.