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Prefire (Preemptive) Management to Decrease Fire-Induced Bunchgrass Mortality and Reduce Reliance on Postfire Seeding

April Hulet, Chad S. Boyd, Kirk W. Davies, Tony J. Svejcar
Rangeland ecology & management 2015 v.68 no.6 pp. 437-444
Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis, annuals, fire resistance, fuels (fire ecology), grasses, introduced plants, invasive species, models, mortality, perennials, range management, rangelands, research, sowing, wildfires
Western rangelands are currently under severe threat from exotic annual grasses. To successfully manage rangelands that are either infested with or susceptible to exotic annual grasses, we must focus on increasing resilience to disturbance and resistance to exotic annual grass invasion. Here, we present a fuel-based model and research framework for Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) rangelands that focuses on increasing resilience to fire and resistance to exotic annual grasses through the maintenance of perennial bunchgrasses. By maintaining perennial bunchgrass, exotic annual grasses have limited resources, thus decreasing the invasibility of the site. In order for the fuel-based model to be effective in guiding land management practices, research that evaluates the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors that influence fire-induced bunchgrass mortality is needed. Hence, we propose a research framework to identify and fill potential gaps in current scientific knowledge. We also suggest potential research objectives that are necessary to make informed management decisions before wildfire, with a goal to ultimately decreasing our reliance on marginally successful postfire restoration practices through preemptive management strategies.