Pre- and post-fire restoration in degraded sagebrush steppe
In collaboration with managers at the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State University wildlife ecologists Dr. Dana Sanchez and Dr. Jacob Dittel, research currently in progress is addressing the impacts of pre- and post-fire management treatment alternatives (juniper thinning, herbicide of invasive grasses, perennial reseeding) on plant community composition and habitat requirements for mule deer and seed-dispersing small mammals following stand-replacing wildfire. Of particular interest is how small-bodied seed dispersers may modify the ‘frontline’ between increased invasion (of non-native grasses) and post fire recovery (seeding treatments, etc.) by differentially selecting, caching, and consuming preferred seeds. Additionally, Elizabeth Schuyler, a Ph.D. student collaborator, is investigating habitat use of these management treatments using data from GPS-collared mule deer and habitat selection modeling at multiple spatial scales. These answers are critical to state wildlife managers as they seek to restore and maintain shrub steppe wildlife habitats following wildfire.