Resistance & Resilience

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2022 Society for Range Management (SRM)’s 75th Annual Meeting

Meeting website.

Join us in the heart of New Mexico for the 75th Annual SRM Meeting. The beautiful high desert rangelands, diverse cultures, authentic art, and painted skies of Albuquerque will make for a great meeting.

Journal article icon

Resilience to fire and resistance to annual grass invasion in sagebrush ecosystems of US National Parks

Approximately 70 park units include at least some sagebrush shrublands or steppe, but we identified 40 parks with substantial amounts (>20% of park area) that can be included in an agency-wide conservation strategy. Second, we examined detailed patterns of resilience and resistance, fire history and fire risk, cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion, and sagebrush shrub (Artemisia spp.) persistence in five national park units in Columbia Basin and Snake River Plain sagebrush steppe, contextualized by the broader summary. In these five parks, fire frequency and size increased in recent decades. Cheatgrass invasion and sagebrush persistence correlated strongly with resilience, burn frequency (0–3 fires since ~1940), and burn probability, but with important variation, in part mediated by local-scale topography. Third, we used these insights to assemble strategic sagebrush ecosystem fire protection mapping scenarios in two additional parks – Lava Beds National Monument and Great Basin National Park. Readily available and periodically updated geospatial data including soil surveys, fire histories, vegetation inventories, and long-term monitoring support resiliency-based adaptive management through tactical planning of pre-fire protection, post-fire restoration, and triage. Our assessment establishes the precarious importance of the US national park system to sagebrush ecosystem conservation and an operational strategy for place-based and science-supported conservation.

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Fire science and management in an uncertain future: Tools and approaches for managing fire in future climates in the SW

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Workshop purpose: Identify fire science and management needs and discuss tools and approaches to natural resource assessments and adaptation strategies for fire dynamics in future climates in Southwest (DOI Regions 8 & 10 [CA, NV, AZ]) bioregions.

Take-Aways:
Provide awareness of tools needed for decision-making in an uncertain future
Generate a list of new science actions to meet fire needs for practitioners/planners in future, non-analog landscapes and communities
Suggest how we might address and accomplish these identified needs going forward
Exchange Information
Make connections

This four-hour, virtual Summit was an abbreviated, rescheduled version of ‘Building Bridges and Solutions: Partners in Facing Fire-Science Challenges’ that was cancelled in April due to COVID-19. We assembled scientists and fire practitioners/leaders in an interagency effort to identify fire science and management needs and to discuss decision-making tools and approaches that address resource assessments and adaptation strategies for fire dynamics in future climates in the Southwest (Department of Interior [DOI] Regions 8 and 10 [CA, NV, AZ]). This overriding goal threaded together the Summit’s talks, Q&A, and break-out sessions. Speakers from various agencies, institutes, and academia focused on fire management and planning in future non-analog landscapes and climate-fire-ecosystem impact relationships in western forest (e.g., mixed-conifer, subalpine), desert (hot and cold, grassland, pinyon-juniper, sage-steppe), and Mediterranean/chaparral bioregions. Syntheses from talks, Mentimeter-conducted discussions, and break-out groups on management and actionable-science needs will be summarized in a white paper and posted on the Southwest, Great Basin, and California Fire Science Exchange websites. Let’s work together to address fire science and management in an uncertain future!

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Ecology, history, ecohydrology, and management of pinyon and juniper woodlands in the Great Basin

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This synthesis reviews current knowledge of pinyon and juniper ecosystems, in both persistent and newly expanded woodlands, for managers, researchers, and the interested public. We draw from a large volume of research papers to centralize information on these semiarid woodlands. The first section includes a general description of both the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau. The ecology section covers woodland and species life histories, biology, and ecology and includes a detailed discussion of climate and the potential consequences of climate change specific to the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. The history section discusses 20,000 years of woodland dynamics and geographic differences among woodland disturbance regimes and resilience. The ecohydrology section discusses hydrologic processes in woodlands that influence soil conservation and loss; water capture, storage, and release; and the effect that woodland structure and composition have on these processes. The final section, restoration and management, covers the history of woodland management, the different methods used, the advantages and disadvantages of different vegetation treatments, and posttreatment vegetation responses. We also discuss successes and failures and key components that determine project outcomes important for consideration when restoring ecosystem function, integrity, and resilience.

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Repeated fall Rx fire in previously thinned ponderosa pine increases growth and resistance

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This study examines tree growth and mortality associated with spring and fall burning repeated at five (5 yr) and fifteen-year (15 yr) intervals in six previously thinned ponderosa pine stands in the southern Blue Mountain Ecoregion near Burns, Oregon, USA. Each stand consisted of an unburned control, and four season-by-burn interval treatments: spring 5 yr, spring 15 yr, fall 5 yr, and fall 15 yr. Burning was initiated in fall 1997 and spring  1998. Pine height and diameter growth was evaluated in 2013, 15 years following initial treatment. Mortality was assessed annually from 2002 to 2017, when these stands experienced severe defoliation from pine butterfly (PB, Neophasia menapia), followed by a moderate outbreak of western pine beetle (WPB, Dendroctonus brevicomis), allowing us to examine resistance to these disturbances. Pine in the 5 yr fall treatments added more diameter than spring 15 yr and marginally more than spring 5 yr, while fall 15 yr added marginally more diameter than spring 15 yr. In addition, the fall 5 yr treatments had lower mortality associated with prescribed fire, PB, WPB, Ips spp., red turpentine beetle (RTB, D. valens), and mountain pine beetle (MPB, D. ponderosae), but the effect was not always significant. Annosus root disease (ARD, caused by Heterobasidion irregulare) and black stain root  disease (BSRD, caused by Leptographium wagneri var. ponderosum) appear to be unaffected by burning. However, BSRD occurrence dramatically declined in all treatments, probably a result of thinning prior to study initiation. Results from this study demonstrate that repeated fall burning, especially at 5-year intervals, improves ponderosa pine diameter growth and may provide resistance to future biotic and abiotic disturbances while spring burning, regardless of frequency, does not.

Synthesis/Technical Report icon

State and transition models for MLRA 26 (NV and CA)

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Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD) synthesize information concerning soils, hydrology, ecology, and management into a user-friendly document. A crucial component of an ESD is the state-and-transition model (STM) that identifies the different vegetation states, describes the disturbances that caused vegetation change, and suggests restoration activities needed to restore plant communities. State-and-transition models are powerful tools that utilize professional knowledge, data, and literature to describe the resistance and resilience of an ecological site. The STM then captures various disturbances, triggers leading to ecological thresholds, feedback mechanisms maintaining ecological states, and the restoration techniques required for moving from one ecological state to another (Briske et al. 2008, Stringham et al. 2003).

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Great Basin pinyon and juniper: Ecology, history, and restoration website

Visit the PJ website, authored by Rick Miller

Pinyon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands occupy over 78,000 square miles of the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau. These woodlands have persisted for tens of thousands of years and provide important biodiversity and habitat for many species across the region. Yet, relatively recent infill of new trees into old-growth woodlands and expansion of trees into adjacent sagebrush-steppe, riparian, and aspen communities have created a considerable mix of concerns around wildfire, drought-mortality, invasive species, watershed function, tree removal, and loss of habitat, biodiversity, and resilience.

This website provides background information on the ecology and management of PJ woodlands useful to the interested public and emerging information important to resource managers.
1) PJ 101 provides a brief introduction to and description of PJ woodlands with links to more in-depth information.
2) FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) briefly addresses questions related to the ecology and management of PJ woodlands.
3) Tools provides information and concepts for evaluating landscapes, which are specifically useful for predicting disturbance or vegetation management responses in PJ woodlands.
4) Literature provides brief summaries and links to recently published PJ woodlands studies. Study findings are highlighted and discussed in terms of our current understanding.

This website will be continually updated with new articles, questions, and tools.

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Colorado Wildland Fire Conference

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Conference theme: Resilient Colorado: Moving Forward in Evolving Wildfire Landscapes

September 21-23, 2021
Double Tree Hotel
743 Horizon Drive
Grand Junction, Colorado

Webinar, video, audio icon

Ecological drought: Planning for resilience

Webinar recording.

This webinar focuses on planning, restoration, and recovery actions that strengthen ecosystem resilience, mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, and realize co-benefits.

Presenters: Dr. Jennifer Cartwright, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center, USGS
Rachel M. Gregg, Senior Scientist, EcoAdapt
Hannah Panci, Climate Change Scientist and Robert Croll, Climate Change Program Coordinator, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

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Rethinking the restoration of resilience for ecosystems outside their historical range of variation

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Resilience goals should be updated to better apply to 21st century ecosystems. They propose a concept of scaled resilience, which incorporates scales of time, space, and biological level of organization. By measuring disturbance and post-disturbance ecosystem responses in all three dimensions, scaled resilience models can be grounded by data that are much more useful to land managers than simple comparisons to reference site conditions.

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