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

Boyd, C.S. and K.W. Davies. 2012. Environmental Management 50:441-450


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.

Key Words

Annual grass; Artemisia tridentate; restoration; wildfire; perennial grass