Shrub establishment in semi-arid areas is episodic in natural populations. The identfication of when recruitment (establishment) pulses naturally occur can assist land managers in ecosystem rehabilitation/reclamation and restoration activities. Knowing the climatic variables responsible for these pulses will improve our ability to ensure success when resources are expended on restoration and wildlife improvement activities.
If we understand the climatic conditions responsible, we can manipulate seed beds and and microsites or modify cultural practices to improve establishment efficiency.
This project investigates the relationship between climatic variables (temperature and precipitation) and shrub cohort establishment and survival on semi-arid sites. Natural populations of five species or subspecies of sagebrush, (basin sagebrush; Wyoming sagebrush; black sagebrush; low sagebrush; and Lahontan sagebrush) will be sampled from a network of sites throughout the state.
Statisitical test such as principal component analyses and logistic regression models will be employed to identify the environmental/climatic controls responsible for successful sagebrush establishment and survival in native populations.
This project will have direct applicability for fire stabilization and rehabilitation, ecosystem restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, and on active and abandoned mine sites where mandated shrub density standards are required. The results will provide specific information concerning the controlling climatic factors responsible for sagebrush success through the first few critical growing seasons, and suggest environmental manipulation regimes (e.g., microsite selection/creation) that could be utilized to enhance sagebrush establishment success.