Pre‐fire vegetation drives post‐fire outcomes in sagebrush ecosystems: Evidence from field and remote sensing data

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Study objectives were (1) to quantify the magnitude and direction of change in the cover of native and exotic plant functional groups in relation to their exposure to fire; (2) to relate plant community changes to their historical composition, exposure to fire, and environmental conditions; and (3) to test for consistency of trends revealed by vegetation cover data derived from field plots and Landsat images. Results suggest that burned areas historically occupied by sagebrush‐dominated plant communities may have been invaded by exotic annuals prior to burning, possibly because of prior land uses, and after burning, have now transitioned to a persistent herbaceous‐dominated state. This type of state transition has important consequences for forage quality, wildlife habitat, soil nutrients, and future disturbances, such as drought and wildfire.

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