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Recent SageSTEP Publications

Following is a list of recent publications from SageSTEP research. If you need help accessing journal articles, please email

Many of the publications listed below are available in PDF format. To download an updated version of Adobe Reader (for viewing PDF documents), click here.


Using germination prediction to inform seeding potential: II. comparison of germination predictions for cheatgrass and potential revegetation species in the Great Basin by Nathan Cline, Bruce Roundy, Stuart Hardegree and William Christensen.


Using germination prediction to inform seeding potential: I. Temperature range validation of germination prediction models for the Great Basin, USA by Nathan Cline, Bruce Roundy, and William Christensen.

Germination models predict germination timing under seedbed water potential and temperature conditions. Using a wet thermal time model for germination prediction, we estimated progress toward germination (PTG) of 31 seedlots (10 species) as a function of hourly seedbed temperature (> 0 °C) when soils were above a water potential of −1.5 MPa. Seasonally-summed progress toward germination with a value > 1 indicates that germination will occur for that season. We used near surface (1–3 cm) soil water potential and temperature measurements collected at 24 sites in the Great Basin to determine effects of site, season, and year on PTG. On tree encroached sites, we also determined effects of tree infilling phase at time of tree removal, removal method,and microsite on estimated PTG.


Response of bird community structure to habitat management in piñon-juniper woodland-sagebrush ecotones in Forest Ecology and Management.

Management actions using prescribed fire and mechanical cutting to reduce woodland cover and control expansion provided opportunities to understand how environmental structure and changes due to these treatments influence bird communities in piñon-juniper systems. Steve Knick and other authors surveyed 43 species of birds and measured vegetation for 1–3 years prior to treatment and 6–7 years post-treatment at 13 locations across Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah and used structural equation modeling to develop and statistically test a conceptual model that the current bird assembly at a site is structured primarily by the previous bird community with additional drivers from current and surrounding habitat conditions as well as external regional bird dynamics.


A new parameterization approach for estimating erodibility has been developed for the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM). The approach uses empirical equations developed by applying piecewise regression analysis to predict the differences of erodibility before and after disturbance (i.e., wildfire, prescribed fire, and tree encroachment) and across a wide range of soil textures as a function of vegetation cover and surface slope angle. The approach combines rain splash, sheet flow, and concentrated flow erodibilities into a single parameter for modeling erodibility in most cases. Developing a parameterization approach for soil erodibility for the rangeland hydrology and erosion model (RHEM) in the Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. By O. Z. Al-Hamdan, F. B. Pierson, M. A. Nearing, C. J. Williams,M. Hernandez, J. Boll, S. K. Nouwakpo, M. A. Weltz, K. Spaeth.


Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems with Emphasis on Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat — Part 3. Site Level Restoration Decisions.

Planning restoration treatments requires many site-specific decisions. This resource gives site-level decision tools for the process of defining site-level objectives and ecological site characteristics. It compares State and Transition models, takes the manager through the process of current uses and past disturbances, and discusses how weather before and after treatments may impact restoration success. It addresses potential positive and negative impacts on habitats, especially for greater sage-grouse, decisions regarding post-restoration livestock grazing, and monitoring.

By: David A. Pyke, Jeanne C. Chambers, Mike Pellant, Richard F. Miller, Jeffrey L. Beck, Paul S. Doescher, Bruce A. Roundy, Eugene W. Schupp, Steven T. Knick, Mark Brunson, and James D. McIver


In Ecosphere: Ecosystem resilience is evident 17 years after fire in Wyoming big sagebrush ecosystem by Ellsworth, L. M., D. W. Wrobleski, J. B. Kauffman, and S. A. Reis

In Journal of Arid Environments: Soils mediate the impact of fine woody debris on invasive and native grasses as whole trees are mechanically shredded into firebreaks in pinon-juniper woodlands. Z. Aanderud, D. R. Schoolmaster, D. Rigby, J. Bybee, T. Campbell, and B. A. Roundy

In Rangeland Ecology & Management: Sage Grouse Groceries: Forb Response to Piñon-Juniper Treatments. Bates, J., K. W. Davies, A. Hulet, R. F. Miller, B.A. Roundy.


Frost and Soils A high mortality rate among seedlings has long plagued restoration projects because the seeds may germinate too soon. In new research in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, Bruce Roundy and Matt Madsen are measuring freezing and thawing on rangeland sites to determine the length of germination delay needed to avoid seedling frost mortality and to help guide frost-tolerance experiments.They analyzed fall to spring soil temperatures from 2010 to 2014 on six sagebrush–bunchgrass sites and eight woodland sites where conifers had invaded sagebrush communities. Soil temperatures were measured in untreated, prescribed burned, and mechanically treated plots. Read more here.


A new literature synthesis: Ecohydrologic impacts of rangeland fire on runoff and erosion by Fred Pierson and Jason Williams is now available online. 

Fire can dramatically influence rangeland hydrology and erosion by altering ecohydrologic relationships. This synthesis presents an ecohydrologic perspective on the effects of fire on rangeland runoff and erosion through a review of scientific literature spanning many decades. The objectives are: (1) to introduce rangeland hydrology and erosion concepts necessary for understanding hydrologic impacts of fire; (2) to describe how climate, vegetation, and soils affect rangeland hydrology and erosion; and (3) to use examples from literature to illustrate how fire interacts with key ecohydrologic relationships. The synthesis is intended to provide a useful reference and conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating impacts of fire on rangeland runoff and erosion.


REMVegetation Response to Piñon and Juniper Tree Shredding in Rangeland Ecology and Management, by Jordan Bybee et al.

To determine vegetation response to fuel reduction by tree mastication or seeding and then shredding, authors measured cover for shrub and herbaceous functional groups on shredded and adjacent untreated areas on 44 sites in Utah. Shredding or seeding and then shredding should facilitate wildfire suppression, increase resistance to weed dominance, and lead toward greater resilience to disturbance by increasing perennial herbaceous cover.

Incorporating Hydrologic Data and Ecohydrologic Relationships into Ecological Site Descriptions in Rangeland Ecology and Management, by Jason William et al.

This paper brings together our knowledge of vegetation and hydrology interactions and ability to include those interactions qualitatively and quantitatively within Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs). We demonstrate application of the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model to evaluate and predict ecohydrologic responses to vegetation transitions, conservation practices, and disturbances within the ESD context. SageSTEP has been instrumental in increasing knowledge of vegetation and hydrology interactions for sagebrush rangelands and in increasing our understanding of ecohydrologic responses to specific conservation practices (i.e., conifer removal practices). The data acquired through SageSTEP have also greatly contributed to improving RHEM for applications as demonstrated in the paper.


McDowell ResearchMulti-scale predictions of massive conifer mortality due to chronic temperature rise. Global temperature rise and extremes accompanying drought threaten forests and their associated climatic feedbacks. Our ability to accurately simulate drought-induced forest impacts remains highly uncertain in part owing to our failure to integrate physiological measurements, regional scale models, and dynamic global vegetation models. Here we show consistent predictions of widespread mortality of needleleaf evergreen trees within Southwest USA by using state-of-the-art models evaluated against empirical data sets.


Hessburg ResearchRestoring fire-prone Inland Pacific landscapes: seven core principles. More than a century of forest and fire management of Inland Pacific landscapes has transformed their successional and disturbance dynamics. Many current projects emphasize thinning and fuels reduction within individual forest stands, while overlooking large-scale habitat connectivity and disturbance flow issues. We provide a framework for landscape restoration, offering seven principles.



Parks ResearchWildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States. The natural role of fire has been disrupted in many regions due to the influence of human activities, which have the potential to either exclude or promote fire, resulting in a ‘‘fire deficit’’ or ‘‘fire surplus’’, respectively. In this study, we developed a model of expected area burned for the western US as a function of climate from 1984 to 2012. We then quantified departures from expected area burned to identify geographic regions with fire deficit or surplus. We developed our model of area burned as a function of several climatic variables from reference areas with low human influence; the relationship between climate and fire is strong in these areas.


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