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
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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.