SageSuccess Project Findings
The SageSuccess Project, a joint USGS, BLM, and USFWS effort, examines the factors contributing to big sagebrush establishment across the range of sage-grouse. In two webinars, USGS researchers will present major findings of studies on restoration, resistance and resilience, soils, population dynamics, and more.
SageSuccess Project findings were presented over two days by 6 presenters.
History, Study Design, and Partnerships of the SageSuccess Project: David Pilliod
The SageSuccess project required considerable planning and partnership building and coordination. Early partner engagement and flexibility were key to our success. This presentation sets the stage for why and how the project formed, what lessons we learned along the way, and where the science may take us next.
Big Picture Considerations for Sagebrush Restoration: Matt Germino
Sagebrush ecosystems, while often perceived as homogenous “seas” of shrubs, exhibit striking variation within and among sites. Heterogeneity exists over time and across space due to weather, climatic, topographic, and edaphic factors. In addition to this variability is remarkable genetic diversity within sagebrush and its associated species. This variability presents challenges and opportunities for sagebrush restoration.
Is Resistance & Resilience a Useful Predictive Tool? Robert Arkle
Ecological resistance and resilience to disturbance and subsequent invasion is becoming a cornerstone of conservation management in the Great Basin. However, whether this theory works in practice is largely untested at broad spatial and temporal scales. R & R theory was evaluated from field data from over 200 post-wildfire rehabilitation sites sampled from 1–35 years post-treatment throughout the Great Basin.
Gradients in Sagebrush Recovery after Fire are Associated with Soil and Biocrust Characteristics: Dave Barnard
The influence of soil properties on the recovery of sagebrush canopy structure after fire is not well documented. In this study, we investigated associations between soil depth, texture, and surface characteristics and the recovery of sagebrush canopy structure. We show that a diversity of associations exists and that soil characteristics such as depth and structure can surpass precipitation in terms explaining post-fire sagebrush responses.
Population Trajectories of Sagebrush after Restoration: Connecting Pattern and Process: Bob Shriver
It’s assumed that in the absence of drought, invasive species, or other disturbance, populations should recover soon after restoration, but there is little data to support this. When we examined the population dynamics of restoration, we found sagebrush populations declined for decades following seeding, even in the absence of environmental change. It took an average of 20 years to see increases in sagebrush cover. Much of this prolonged recovery can be linked to the sagebrush life history.
To Plant or to Seed? A Good Question: Dave Pyke
Sagebrush restoration typically takes two forms: seeding or transplanting. Transplants can bypass some of the roadblocks to establishment that seedings face. However, growth can sometimes be a challenge with transplanted species growing poorer than seeded species. We examine canopy and height growth of seeded and transplanted sagebrush across the Great Basin. Transplants have an early growth advantage in the first three to five years, but seeded plants eventually match the growth of transplants.