A review of fire effects on vegetation and soils in the Great Basin Region: response and ecological site characteristics
By: Richard F. Miller, Jeanne C. Chambers, David A. Pyke, Fred B. Pierson, and C. Jason Williams
This review synthesizes the state of knowledge on fire effects on vegetation and soils in semi-arid ecosystems in the Great Basin Region, including the central and northern Great Basin and Range, Columbia River Basin, and the Snake River Plain. We summarize available literature related to: (1) the effects of environmental gradients, ecological site, and vegetation characteristics on resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive species; (2) the effects of fire on individual plant species and communities, biological soil crusts, seed banks, soil nutrients, and hydrology; and (3) the role of fire severity, fire versus fire surrogate treatments, and post-fire grazing in determining ecosystem response. From this, we identify knowledge gaps and present a framework for predicting plant successional trajectories following wild and prescribed fires and fire surrogate treatments. Possibly the three most important ecological site characteristics that influence a site’s resilience (ability of the ecological site to recover from disturbance) and resistance to invasive species are soil temperature/moisture regimes and the composition and structure of vegetation on the ecological site just prior to the disturbance event.
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