Ecological - Second Order
Fire & Wildlife
Land management agencies in northwest Wyoming have implemented an active prescribed fire program to address historically altered fire regimes, regenerate aspen, and improve overall watershed functions. Treated clones are susceptible to extensive browsing from elk concentrated on supplemental feedgrounds and from wintering moose. Previous attempts at fire-induced aspen regeneration in the area indicate various levels of success due to existing herbivory levels. Belt transects were established in fire-treated aspen clones along the Gros Ventre drainage, northeast of Jackson, Wyoming. Sucker heights and densities were compared between northeast and south/southwest exposures to determine fire-induced regeneration success and opportunities for future successful treatments. Overall stem density has not changed (p <0.05) from 1996 to 1999. Mean stem height increased from 0.79 m in 1996 to 1.1 m in 1999. Due to differential snow accumulations affecting browse availability, northeast (NE) and south-southwest (SSW) aspects were compared. Mean stem densities are not different between these aspects (p <0.05). However, mean stem height on NE aspects (1.4 m) was greater (p <0.05) than SSW aspects (0.80 m). Our ability to detect a difference in regenerating aspen height between aspects was probably due to differential browsing levels of ungulates. Such information is important for prioritization of future vegetation treatments.