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Invasive species and climate change (Chapter 7)

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This review discusses how climate change may modify invasive species and the tools used to manage them. The understanding of how and in what direction climate change will drive such changes is insufficient to adequately predict and respond. However, climate-induced changes are likely to be complex and will need to be examined on a case by case basis until more generalized frameworks can be developed. This review will help guide development of important research questions, the answers to which will better position us to devise and apply meaningful management options to address invasive species in both present and future climates.

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A common-garden study of resource-island effects on a native and an exotic, annual grass after fire

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This study compared unburned and burned sites to determine how cheatgrass and native wheatgrass abundance and distribution varied. Wheatgrass density increased in high-nutrient areas. Soil cores from burned microsites were also transplanted to a controlled area and seeded with either wheatgrass or cheatgrass to determine microsite effects on plant establishment and growth. There were differences in microsite soil properties, which were not affected by plant growth, and differences in growth but not establishment of grass seeds. Microsites are likely important for post-fire resistance of rangeland to cheatgrass establishment.

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What is limiting more flexible fire management – Public or agency pressure?

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For this study, researchers traveled to two fires—the Gap in California and Gunbarrel in Wyoming—each of which used a different strategy for managing the fire. At each site, they interviewed key agency individuals and asked them about internal and external factors that influenced their fire management decisions. We also interviewed community members to understand whether they sought to influence fire management. Findings did not wholly support conventional wisdom and suggest that internal pressures are as important as external pressure in shaping fire management strategy.

 

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Short- and long-term effects on fuels, forest structure, and wildfire potential from prescribed fire and resource benefit fire in southwestern forests, USA

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The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of recent prescribed fires, resource benefit fires, and repeated fires in ponderosa pine forests, as well as recent resource benefit fires in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Results are pertinent to fire and fuels managers throughout the southwestern United States who utilize prescribed and resource benefit fire to reduce fuel loads and restore historical forest conditions.

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Assessment of range planting as a conservation practice

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This synthesis chapter presents an assessment of the conservation effects of rangeland planting practices – both the assessment of the direct benefits of specific planting techniques recommended in the range planting standard, and assessment of specific conservation effects of alternative vegetation states.

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Characterizing changes in drought risk for the United States from climate change

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This paper predicts moderately more frequent drought for the Great Basin with climate change.

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Crested wheatgrass control and native plant establishment in Utah

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This study compared mechanical and chemical treatments to control crested wheatgrass and found that effective control can require secondary treatments to reduce the seed bank and open stands to dominance by seeded native species. Manipulation of crested wheatgrass stands to restore native species carries the risk of weed invasion if secondary treatments effectively control the wheatgrass and native species have limited survival due to drought.

 

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Managing fire and fuels in a warmer climate

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This paper provides a historical perspective on fire in the Pacific Northwest. A warmer climate could bring more fire to the westside of the Cascade Range where summers are typically dry and will probably become drier. We can also expect longer fire seasons. The biggest concern for the future will be an increase in extreme weather events, which can lead to conditions that produce large and rapidly spreading wildfire.

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Restoring native plants to crested wheatgrass stands

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The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of restoring native plant species to crested wheatgrass-dominated rangeland by testing five suppression treatments. Results suggested that suppression treatments were not effective and therefore did not improve restoration of native species in crested wheatgrass stands. Native species establishment may require subsequent management to favor persistence of native species and retard crested wheatgrass.

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Seeding interference and niche differentiation between crested wheatgrass and contrasting native Great Basin species

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Results of this study indicate that native grasses more readily establish in synchrony with crested wheatgrass than native shrubs, but once established, native shrubs are more likely to coexist and persist with crested wheatgrass because of high niche differentiation (e.g., not limited by the same resource). Results also suggest that developing strategies to minimize interference from crested wheatgrass seedlings emerging from seed banks will enhance the establishment of native species seeded into crested wheatgrass–dominated communities.

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