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Canyon grassland vegetation changes following fire in northern Idaho

Author(s): Corey L. Gucker, Stephen C. Bunting
Year Published: 2011

Native and nonnative vegetation mosaics are common in western rangelands. If land managers could better predict changes in the abundance of native and nonnative species following disturbances, maintenance of native plant cover and diversity may be improved. In August 2000, during suppression of a wildfire near Lewiston, Idaho, a backing fire burned canyon grassland plots. A previous study had recorded species composition and cover prior to the fire, so we were able to evaluate changes in species composition and abundance on established plots before and after the fire. Overall, summer burning had little effect on the grassland communities. Pseudoroegneria spicata recovered to prefire coverage by the third postfire year. In the third postfire year, cover of native and nonnative annual species was significantly greater on burned than unburned sites (P < 0.03). Bromus tectorum cover increased, as expected, on burned plots. Prefire and postfire cover values for Centaurea solstitialis were nearly equal, and there were no significant cover differences between burned and unburned plots in any year. As part of this study, we also evaluated changes in the cover of dominant native and nonnative species with respect to their prefire seral stage on burned and unburned plots. Because our sample sizes were small, we only report community-level trends but suggest that this type of community analysis could make for an interesting future study.

Citation: Gucker, Corey L.; Bunting, Stephen C. 2011. Canyon grassland vegetation changes following fire in northern Idaho. Western North American Naturalist. 71(1): 97-105.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Invasive Species
Ecosystem(s): Lower montane/foothills/valley grassland
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 12049
FRAMES RCS number: 16524
Record updated: May 24, 2018