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Environ Manage. 2015 Jan;55(1):43-55. doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0362-3. Epub 2014 Sep 13.

Climate change and land management in the rangelands of central Oregon.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Science and Management and Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR, 97207-0751, USA, mkc3@pdx.edu.

Abstract

Climate change, along with exotic species, disturbances, and land use change, will likely have major impacts on sagebrush steppe ecosystems in the western U.S. over the next century. To effectively manage sagebrush steppe landscapes for long-term goals, managers need information about the interacting impacts of climate change, disturbances and land management on vegetation condition. Using a climate-informed state-and-transition model, we evaluated the potential impacts of climate change on rangeland condition in central Oregon and the effectiveness of multiple management strategies. Under three scenarios of climate change, we projected widespread shifts in potential vegetation types over the twenty-first century, with declining sagebrush steppe and expanding salt desert shrub likely by the end of the century. Many extreme fire years occurred under all climate change scenarios, triggering rapid vegetation shifts. Increasing wildfire under climate change resulted in expansion of exotic grasses but also decreased juniper encroachment relative to projections without climate change. Restoration treatments in warm-dry sagebrush steppe were ineffective in containing exotic grass, but juniper treatments in cool-moist sagebrush steppe substantially reduced the rate of juniper encroachment, particularly when prioritized early in the century. Overall, climate-related shifts dominated future vegetation patterns, making management for improved rangeland condition more difficult. Our approach allows researchers and managers to examine long-term trends and uncertainty in rangeland vegetation condition and test the effectiveness of alternative management actions under projected climate change.

PMID:
25216989
DOI:
10.1007/s00267-014-0362-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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