Bunchgrass Ridge

Ecology and restoration of conifer-invaded meadows:
Research and adaptive management

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4. Experimental restoration of meadow communities
Study area
1. Conifer invasion
2. Vegetation responses
3. Gopher disturbance
4. Restoration experiment
> Introduction


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Key findings
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The centerpiece of our research program is an experiment that explores the potential for restoring meadows through tree removal and prescribed burning. It addresses the following questions:
  1. Is tree removal sufficient to promote the abundance or diversity of native meadow species? Are there additional ecological benefits of fire?
  2. Are there adverse effects of fuel-reduction methods (broadcast- or pile-burning) on
    • Soil properties?
    • Establishment of undesirable species?

  3. Does the duration of tree influence (over decades to centuries) affect the potential for restoration of meadow vegetation?
Halpern, C. B., R. D. Haugo, J. A. Antos, S. S. Kaas, and A. L. Kilanowski. 2012. Grassland restoration with and without fire: evidence from a tree-removal experiment. Ecological Applications 22:425-441. Download PDF (Appendices)
Experimental tree removal and prescribed burning
Aerial view of restoration experiment (Photo: Sam Swetland)
Bunchgrass Ridge, on 29 Sep 2006, one day after broadcast burning of experimental plots (areas with white ash).
Tree removal Burn piles and unburned ground Broadcast burning
Tree removal Slash piles burning Broadcast burning
Trees were removed from six experimental plots in Jan - Feb 2006.
Slash piles in three experimental plots were burned on 2 Nov 2006.
Three experimental plots were broadcast burned on 28 Sep 2006.
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