SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Artemisia tripartita wyomingensis;
  • Artemisia tripartita;
  • Bromus tectorum;
  • Centrocercus urophasianus;
  • Cheatgrass;
  • fire ecology;
  • forbs;
  • Greater Sage-Grouse;
  • nesting cover;
  • shrub canopy cover;
  • shrub height;
  • Threetip sagebrush;
  • Wyoming big sagebrush

Abstract

The ability of prescribed fire to enhance habitat features for Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis) in western North America is poorly understood. We evaluated recovery of habitat features important to wintering, nesting, and early brood-rearing Sage-Grouse in Wyoming big sagebrush following prescribed fire. Our case study included 1 year of preburn (1989) and 10 years of postburn data collected over 14 years (1990–2003) from control and burned study areas in the Big Desert of southeastern Idaho, U.S.A. We compared recovery and rate of change for 12 features in four categories between burned and control transects and recovery in burned transects including change in variation. Our results indicate that prescribed fire induced quantifiable changes in wintering, nesting, and early brood-rearing Sage-Grouse habitat features 14 years after fire in Wyoming big sagebrush in our study area. Specifically, grass and litter required by Sage-Grouse for nest and brood concealment recovered relatively rapidly following fire; major forb cover was similar between burned and control sites, but the rate of increase for major forb cover and richness was greater in control transects, and structurally mediated habitat features required by Sage-Grouse for food and cover in winter and for nest and brood concealment in spring recovered slowly following fire. Because shrub structural features in our study did not recover in magnitude or variability to preburn levels 14 years after fire, we recommend that managers avoid burning Wyoming big sagebrush to enhance Sage-Grouse habitat, but rather implement carefully planned treatments that maintain Sagebrush.