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Big Sagebrush Fire Ecology and Management

Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems occupy more than 100 million acres of the western United States. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities are among the most widespread of sagebrush communities. The land area historically occupied by sagebrush has been reduced by nearly half due to a variety of causes, including human development, agriculture, woodland expansion, nonnative plant invasions, overgrazing by livestock, and climate changes. About 30% of the land formerly occupied by sagebrush communities has been converted to other land cover types, including conifer woodlands and nonnative annual grasslands, and additional areas are under threat of conversion. This is concerning not only because many species rely on sagebrush communities, but because these altered land cover types differ from sagebrush communities in their fire ecology and fire regimes. For example, conifer woodlands have higher woody fuel loads and altered fuel structures that increase the potential for high-intensity, stand-replacing crown fire. Fires in nonnative annual grasslands tend to be more frequent, larger, faster spreading, and more severe than in sagebrush communities, which can result in a grass/fire cycle that prevents sagebrush from reestablishing. Resources listed here contain the most recent and applicable information on these topics for big sagebrush ecosystems in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Upcoming Events

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Past Events

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Publications/Reports

2015 Simulated big sagebrush regeneration supports predicted changes at the trailing and leading edges of distribution shifts
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Daniel Schlaepfer, Kyle A. Taylor, Victoria E. Pennington, Kellen N. Nelson, Trace E. Martyn, Caitlin M. Rottler, William Lauenroth, John Bradford
2015 Quantifying and predicting fuels and the effects of reduction treatments along successional and invasion gradients in sagebrush habitats - JFSP final report
Technical Report or White Paper
Douglas J. Shinneman, David S. Pilliod, Robert S. Arkle, Nancy F. Glenn
2015 Postfire shrub cover dynamics: A 70-year fire chronosequence in mountain big sagebrush communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Corey A. Moffet, J. Bret Taylor, D. Terrance Booth
2014 Current climate and recent trends
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Kelly T. Redmond, John T. Abatzoglou
2014 Resilience to stress and disturbance, and resistance to Bromus tectorum L. invasion in cold desert shrublands of western North America
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jeanne C. Chambers, Bethany A. Bradley, Cynthia S. Brown, Carla M. D'Antonio, Matthew J. Germino, James B. Grace, Stuart P. Hardegree, Richard F. Miller, David A. Pyke
2013 Summary of science, activities, programs, and policies that influence the rangewide conservation of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophanianus)
Technical Report or White Paper
D.J. Manier, D.J.A. Wood, Z.H. Bowen, R.M. Donovan, M.J. Holloran, L.M. Juliusson, K.S. Mayne, S.J. Oyler-McCance, F.R. Quamen, D.J. Saher, A.J. Titolo
2013 Introduced annual grass increases regional fire activity across the arid western USA (1980-2009)
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jennifer Balch, Bethany A. Bradley, Carla M. D'Antonio, Jose Gomez-Dans
2011 Potential and pitfalls of prescribed burning big sagebrush habitat to enhance nesting and early brood-rearing habitats for greater sage-grouse
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jeffrey L. Beck, J. Garrett Klein, Justin Wright, Kenneth P. Wolfley
2011 A regional experiment to evaluate effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments in the sagebrush biome - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program
Technical Report or White Paper
James D. McIver, Hugh Barrett, Mark W. Brunson, Stephen C. Bunting, Jeanne C. Chambers, Carla M. D'Antonio, Paul S. Doescher, Dale Johnson, Sherm Karl, Steve Knick, Richard F. Miller, Michael L. Pellant, Frederick B. Pierson, David A. Pyke, Kimberly Rollins, Bruce A. Roundy, Eugene Schupp, Robin J. Tausch, David Turner, Michael J. Wisdom
2011 Saving the sagebrush sea: An ecosystem conservation plan for big sagebrush plant communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Kirk W. Davies, Chad S. Boyd, Jeffrey L. Beck, Jonathan D. Bates, Tony J. Svejcar, Michael A. Gregg
2011 Greater sage-grouse: Ecology and conservation of a landscape species and its habitats
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Steve Knick, John W. Connelly
2011 Converting crested wheatgrass stands to enhance big sagebrush: A literature review
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Krystle A. Pehrson, Bok F. Sowell
2009 Recovery of greater sage-grouse habitat features in Wyoming big sagebrush following prescribed fire
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jeffrey L. Beck, John W. Connelly, Kerry P. Reese
2009 Holocene vegetation-fire-climate linkages in Northern Yellowstone National Park, USA
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Mariana A. Huerta, Cathy L. Whitlock, Jason Yale
2009 Fire ecology in Rocky Mountain landscapes
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
William L. Baker
2008 A 2000-year environmenal history of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, inferred from lake-sediment records
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Karen Jacobs, Cathy L. Whitlock
2007 Post-fire recovery of Wyoming big sagebrush shrub-steppe in central and southeast Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Stephen V. Cooper, Peter Lesica, Greg Kudray
2007 Modeling erosion on steep sagebrush rangeland before and after prescribed fire - proceedings
Conference Proceedings
Corey A. Moffet, Frederick B. Pierson, Kenneth E. Spaeth
2007 Big and black sagebrush landscapes
Conference Proceedings
Stanley G. Kitchen, E. Durant McArthur
2006 Short- and longer-term effects of fire and herbivory on sagebrush communities in south-central Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Fred Van Dyke, Jeffrey A. Darragh
2006 Fire and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
William L. Baker
2005 Big sagebrush: A sea fragmented into lakes, ponds, and puddles
Technical Report or White Paper
Bruce L. Welch
2005 The role of fire in structuring sagebrush habitats and bird communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Steve Knick, Aaron L. Holmes, Richard F. Miller
2003 Vegetation dynamics under fire exclusion and logging in a Rocky Mountain watershed, 1856-1996
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Alisa L. Gallant, Andrew J. Hansen, John S. Councilman, Duane K. Monte, David W. Betz
2003 Countering misinformation concerning big sagebrush
Technical Report or White Paper
Bruce L. Welch, Craig Criddle
2001 The role of fire in juniper and pinyon woodlands: a descriptive analysis
Conference Proceedings
Richard F. Miller, Robin J. Tausch
2000 Long-term effects of fire on sage grouse habitat
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Pamela J. Nelle, Kerry P. Reese, John W. Connelly
2000 Variations in fire frequency and climate over the last 17,000 years in central Yellowstone National Park
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Sarah H. Millspaugh, Cathy L. Whitlock, Patrick J. Bartlein
1999 Historical and modern roles of fire in pinyon-juniper
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
George E. Gruell
1999 Response of shrubs in big sagebrush habitats to fire on the northern Yellowstone winter range
Conference Proceedings
Carl L. Wambolt, Trista L. Hoffman, Chris A. Mehus
1996 Long-term recovery of Wyoming big sagebrush after four treatments
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Myles J. Watts, Carl L. Wambolt
1986 Sagebrush over time: A photographic study of rangeland change
Conference Proceedings
Kendall L. Johnson
1983 Fire history at the forest-grassland ecotone in southwestern Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Stephen F. Arno, George E. Gruell
1982 Fuel and fire behavior prediction in big sagebrush
Technical Report or White Paper
James K. Brown
1975 Presettlement vegetation in the sagebrush-grass area of the Intermountain West
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Thomas R. Vale
1973 30 years of vegetation change following burning of sagebrush-grass range
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Roy O. Harniss, Robert B. Murray
1973 Wildfires in northern Yellowstone National Park
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Douglas B. Houston

Management Documents

2016 The integrated rangeland fire management strategy actionable science plan
Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy Actionable Science Plan Team
2014 Using resistance and resilience concepts to reduce impacts of invasive annual grasses and altered fire regimes on the sagebrush ecosystem and greater sage-grouse: a strategic multi-scale approach
Jeanne C. Chambers, David A. Pyke, Jeremy D. Maestas, Michael L. Pellant, Chad S. Boyd, Steven B. Campbell, Shawn Espinosa, Douglas W. Havlina, Kenneth E. Mayer, Amarina Wuenschel
2002 Conservation of greater sage-grouse on public lands in the Western U.S.: implications of recovery and management policies
Carl L. Wambolt, Aaron J. Harp, Bruce L. Welch, Nancy L. Shaw, John W. Connelly, Kerry P. Reese, Clait E. Braun, Donald A. Klebenow, E. Durant McArthur, James G. Thompson, L. Allen Torell, John A. Tanaka
2000 Guidelines to manage sage grouse populations and their habitats
John W. Connelly, Michael A. Schroeder, Alan R. Sands, Clait E. Braun