The University of Arizona

Vegetation of chained and non-chained seedlings after wildfire in Utah.

J.E. Ott, E.D. McArthur, B.A. Roundy

Abstract


After wildfires in 1996 in the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and pinyon-juniper (Pinus spp.J?uniperus spp.) zones of west-central Utah, the USDI-BLM attempted to reduce soil erosion and cheatgrass proliferation (Bromus tectorum L.) through rehabilitation treatments. We compared the vegetation of aerially seeded, chained treatments with aerially seeded but non-chained treatments for 3 years following seeding. Vegetation cover increased significantly in both treatments between the first and second year, concurrent with above-average precipitation. By the second year, seeded grasses, primarily crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.] and intermediate wheatgrass [Elymus hispidus (Opiz) Meld. and Elymus elongatus (Host) Runem.], dominated the chained treatment while cheatgrass dominated the non-chained treatment. Seeded grass establishment in non-chained areas was highest beneath dead trees on steep northeast-facing slopes. The first year following the fires, frequency of most annual species and some native perennial species was higher in the non-chained than chained treatment. Native species richness and diversity declined in both treatments between the first and third year following the fires due to the loss of early-seral native annuals and probably because of climatic factors and competition from seeded grasses and cheatgrass. This study reaffirmed the utility of aerial seeding followed by chaining as a rehabilitation technique for rapid establishment of standard plant materials and suppression of cheatgrass, although the implications for soil protection were less clear. Maintenance of native biodiversity on public lands will require greater development and use of native plant materials for wildfire rehabilitation. Planning for future rehabilitation needs is important in light of continuing wildfire risks.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v56i1_ott


Keywords


aerial sowing;revegetation plants;erosion control;rehabilitation;biodiversity;Elytrigia intermedia subsp. intermedia;sowing;wildfire management;sown grasslands;Artemisia;species diversity;Agropyron cristatum;weed control;fires;fire effects;Bromus tectorum;plant communities;botanical composition;Pinus;Juniperus;plant competition;invasive species;Utah;Elytrigia elongata

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