Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service
  
Treesearch

Research & Development Treesearch

 
Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Northern
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help
 

GeoTreesearch


Science.gov - We Participate


USA.gov  Government Made Easy


Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.
20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

(676 KB bytes)

Title: History of fire and Douglas-fir establishment in a savanna and sagebrush-grassland mosaic, southwestern Montana, USA

Author: Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Miller, Richard F.; Parsons, Russell A.

Date: 2006

Source: Forest ecology and management. 230(1-3): 107-118

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Over the past century, trees have encroached into grass- and shrublands across western North America. These include Douglas-fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco var. glauca (Beissn.) Franco) encroaching into mountain big sagebrush Nutt. ssp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle) from stable islands of savanna in southwestern Montana. Our objectives were to quantify the relative area occupied by mountain big sagebrush and grasslands versus Douglas-fir savanna in the Fleecer Mountains of southwestern Montana today and in the past, and to identify the historical role of fire and other factors in maintaining this distribution. To do this, we reconstructed a multicentury history of tree establishment and surface fires from 1120 trees sampled on a grid of 50 plots covering 1030 ha of a modern mosaic of sagebrush–grasslands and Douglas-fir trees. We compared these histories to time series of climate and land use, and to spatial variation in topography and soil moisture availability. Beginning in the mid-1800s, Douglas-fir trees established in areas in which trees did not persist historically. In 1855, less than half the plots (42%) had trees whereas today, most plots do (94%). This encroachment was synchronous with the cessation of frequent surface fires, likely caused by the advent of domestic livestock grazing, and perhaps by the start of several decades of relatively dry summers. Douglas-fir savannas historically occurred on fire-safe sites more often than did sagebrush–grass. Our inference that frequent fire excluded Douglas-fir in the past was supported by the results of a simulation model of fire and associated vegetation dynamics. In the continued absence of fire, mountain big sagebrush and grasslands in southwestern Montana are likely to become more homogeneous as Douglas-fir trees continue to encroach.

Keywords: Artemisia tridentata, mountain big sagebrush, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir, encroachment, fire history, dendrochronology, Montana

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to rmrspubrequest@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

XML: View XML

Citation:


Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Miller, Richard F.; Parsons, Russell A. 2006. History of fire and Douglas-fir establishment in a savanna and sagebrush-grassland mosaic, southwestern Montana, USA. Forest ecology and management. 230(1-3): 107-118

 


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.