Sage study

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  • 35 Year Ditch-Creek Burn studyRobin Castell, Sara Koffi

  • Question?A Discussion with Mike Posthumus brought up the topic of the Ditch Creek Fire in 1974Has the sagebrush/bitterbrush community affected by the Ditch Creek Fire of 74 fully recovered?

  • IntroductionAugust 13th, 1974: Ditch Creek Fire occurs1974-1979: Teton Science Schools performed a 5 year continued study of the burn; it was revisited in 19882009: 35 years later the Ditch Creek Fire study was reopened to record the long-term effects on its surroundings

  • HypothesisA study, conducted in Clark Country, Idaho suggests a 30 year recovery rate for Sage brush (Harniss and Robert, 1973) - As a result, our hypothesis is the following:The sagebrush/bitterbrush affected by the Ditch Creek Fire of 74 has reached climax community.

  • MethodsHow did we do it?

  • Prepare data sheetwith placeholders for percentages of bare ground, grasses, Forbes and Shrubs and the height of the highest shrub

  • Prepare Daubenmire FrameLength: 61 cm; Width: 37.8 cmDivide it into 30 ca. equal quadratesNew Frame size allowed more area to be sampledTOTAL AREA: 532m

  • Taking Pictures from MidpointTake pictures from average eye level in all points of the compass (real directions) with the horizon in the upper third of the picture


  • Create Sampling MapWith 20 points in controlled and burned areas

  • SAMPLINGObvious, thatthese two kids have a lot of fun!

  • Place Daubenmire frame on the sampling point so that the sampling point Is in the middle of the daubenmire frame


  • Align Daubenmire frame real south2

  • Look from above straight down to the frame and estimate independently the percent covers of forbes, shrubs, grasses and bare ground3

  • Take the middle value of both estimates and record it on the previously created data sheet4

  • If there was shrub (Sagebrush/bitterbrush), measure the height of the highest shrub of connected brush5

  • Weight Soil Samples in package. After drying them weight again. the difference minus 2g (Zip-bag) is the Soil moisture content.6

  • Soil moisture contentTake soil samples at marked spots by drilling core sampler 9.6 cm in the earth and record samples in a bag

  • GPSRecord GPS coordinates of perimeter and midpoints by setting waypoints in garmin gps device

  • Dont forget to journalRecord all other observations in journalSuch as Elevation, general vegetation cover and Signs of animals

  • Results

  • p= 0.840p= 0.056p= 0.025p= 0.007

  • p= 0.357p= 0.343p= 0.320p= 0.051

  • p= 0.041p= 0.001

  • p= 0.025p= 0.080

    Table 1: Species found in burned and unburned areas in the Ditch Creek burn, Grand Teton National Park 2009Species Found

    Common NameScientific NameNotesSun spotsViguiera multifloraVery abundantBig SagebrushArtemisia tridentatavery abundantArrowleafe BalsamrootBalsamorhiza sagittatavery abundantBuckweed familyErigonum sp.abundantSilky lupineLupinus sericeusabundantAntelope brushPurshia tridentataabundantMountain HollyhockIliamna rivularisrareOregon grapeMahonia repensrareDaisyErigeron sp.rareCommon snowberrySymphoricarpos albusrare

  • DISCUSSIONWhy is that and what does it mean?

  • Climate (Precipitation)Soil moisture holdingElevationIdaho lies at approximately 4000-5000 feetStudy was conducted at 6757 feetReasons why the Sagebrush recovery may be inhibited

  • Why is it important?Land managementSage brush provides more than 70% of Sage grouse diet and the nestingEspecially in the winter important for Elk, Mule deer and JackrabbitsWe might destroy sage habitat if we manage it based on prior knowledge (Knight 1994)

  • Conclusion

  • Short-versionResults prove a inhibited succession of Sage brushRecent Sage brush succession study not applicable in local land management in WyomingOur Study is able to prevent severe mistakes in local land management

  • UncertaintiesWe were not able to use the results of the very early studies because of major inaccuracies and therefore used the 1979 study resultsDobenmeir method is not recommended instead we would use a line intersect method in future studiesSome forbes couldnt be identified because they have their flower,in another season of the year

  • Further researchWhat is the most important cause for the inhibited succession? Go to the idaho field and sample there in a 30 years study and see what is the most important part? Climate, elevation or moisture?

  • BibliographyKershaw, L, MacKinnon, A, & Pojar, J (1998). Plants of the Rovky Mountains. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing. Wingate, J (1990). Rocky Mountain Flower Finder. Rochester: New York. Knight, D (1983). Mountains and Plains : The ecology of Wyoming. Yale: Louis Stern Memorial Fund. Harniss, R, & Murray, R (1973). 30 Years of Vegetal Change following Burning of Sagebrush-Grass Range. Journal of Range Management, 26, 322-325. USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program, (2002). Big Sagebrush. Retrieved July 23, 2009, from United States Department of Agriculture Natural Ressources Conservation Service Web site:

  • AcknowledgementsThanks a lot to Dr. Dale and Mr. Mike for guidance and supervision