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Anchor Chaining’s Influence on Soil Hydrology and Seeding Success in Burned Piñon-Juniper Woodlands
- M.D. Madsen, D.L. Zvirzdin, S.L. Petersen, B.G. Hopkins, B.A. Roundy
- Rangeland ecology & management 2015 v.68 no.3 pp. 231-240
- Juniperus, Pinus, annuals, disturbed soils, forbs, grasses, introduced species, invasive species, land restoration, perennials, pinyon-juniper, plant establishment, rangelands, risk, runoff, soil water, soil water content, sowing, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, vegetation cover, water erosion, water repellent soils, wildfires, woodlands
- Broadcast seeding is one of the most commonly applied rehabilitation treatments for the restoration of burned piñon and juniper woodlands, but the success rate of this treatment is notoriously low. In piñon-juniper woodlands, postfire soil−water repellency can impair seeding success by reducing soil−water content and increasing soil erosion. Implementing anchor chaining immediately after seeding can improve establishment of seeded species by enhancing seed-to-soil contact and may improve restoration success by decreasing soil−water repellency through soil tillage. The objectives of this research were to 1) determine if anchor chaining in postfire pinyon-juniper woodlands diminishes soil−water repellency, and 2) determine meaningful relationships between soil−water repellency, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity [K(h)], and the establishment of seeded and invasive species. Research was conducted on two study sites, each located on a burned piñon-juniper woodland that had severe water repellency and that was aerially seeded. At each location, plots were randomly located in similar ecological sites of chained and unchained areas. At one location, anchor chaining considerably improved soil hydrologic properties, reducing the severity and thickness of the water-repellent layer, and increasing soil K(h) 2- to 4-fold in the first 2 yr following treatment. At this same location, anchor chaining increased perennial grass cover 16-fold and inhibited annual grass and annual forb cover by 5- and 7-fold, respectively. Results from the second site only showed improvements in soil K(h); other hydrologic and vegetative treatment responses were not significantly improved. Overall, this research suggests that anchor chaining has the potential to improve restoration outcomes, though additional research is warranted for understanding the direct impact of anchor chaining on soil−water repellency without the interaction of a seeding treatment.