Not all fuel-reduction treatments degrade biocrusts: Herbicides cause mostly neutral to positive effects on cover of biocrusts

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This study looked at sites with high cover of biocrusts prior to treatments, it demonstrates positive effects of the herbicide, tebuthiuron on lichens with an increase in cover of 10% and trending towards slightly negative effects on moss cover. Across plots, imazapic trended towards a decrease in lichen and moss cover without being statistically significant. Mowing and prescribed fire reduced cover of mosses, with the latter leading to greater declines across sites (declines of 18% vs. 32%). Reductions in moss cover mirrored gains in cover of bare soil, which is associated with increased risk of invasion by grasses responsible for increasing fire risk. The study demonstrates that the use of herbicides simultaneously reduces fuels and maintains greater cover of lichens and mosses compared with other fuel‐reduction treatments, possibly reducing risk of invasion by annual grasses that are responsible for increasing fire risk.

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