Abstract Title

Nondestructive Age and Morphological Estimation of Basin Big Sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. tridentata) Using Stem Characteristics

Additional Funding Sources

The project described was supported by the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program through the U.S. Department of Education under Award No. P217A170169, REU funding from the National Science Foundation (Award No. 2118125), and NSF Idaho EPSCoR Program (Award No. OIA-1757324).

Abstract

Sagebrush steppe, in which Basin Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata) dominates, provides important habitats for rare and declining species in the Intermountain West. Fragmentation has left these ecosystems now occupying less than 60% of their previous range. Addressing this relies on accurate community analysis and informed land management decisions. Age, along with various morphological characteristics of dominant plants like sagebrush, have been shown to be an important factor in determining plant community structure. However, these data can be difficult to obtain, as many methods of determining these characteristics in woody plant species are laborious and destructive in nature. This presents a unique opportunity to determine if basal stem circumference can provide an accurate estimation of age, and morphological characteristics like aboveground biomass, height, and crown area, of Basin Big Sagebrush. Our objectives are to 1) develop a rapid and nondestructive method for estimating age and various morphological characteristics of Basin Big Sagebrush in an Eastern Idaho climate, and to 2) determine whether the relationship between these variables are influenced by local climate.

Height, crown area, and basal stem circumference be will recorded on A. tridentata individuals across two sites in Eastern Idaho, and subsequently harvested at the base of the primary basal stem. Aboveground biomass and age determination will be conducted post-harvest. Stem circumference will be analyzed as a function of age, as well as age being analyzed as a function of morphology. We anticipate that stem circumference will have a strong correlation to age, and that age will correlate with one or more morphological characteristics. These anticipated results will provide a model for rapid and nondestructive age and morphological estimation of Basin Big Sagebrush in an attempt to address the fragmentation of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.

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Nondestructive Age and Morphological Estimation of Basin Big Sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. tridentata) Using Stem Characteristics

Sagebrush steppe, in which Basin Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata) dominates, provides important habitats for rare and declining species in the Intermountain West. Fragmentation has left these ecosystems now occupying less than 60% of their previous range. Addressing this relies on accurate community analysis and informed land management decisions. Age, along with various morphological characteristics of dominant plants like sagebrush, have been shown to be an important factor in determining plant community structure. However, these data can be difficult to obtain, as many methods of determining these characteristics in woody plant species are laborious and destructive in nature. This presents a unique opportunity to determine if basal stem circumference can provide an accurate estimation of age, and morphological characteristics like aboveground biomass, height, and crown area, of Basin Big Sagebrush. Our objectives are to 1) develop a rapid and nondestructive method for estimating age and various morphological characteristics of Basin Big Sagebrush in an Eastern Idaho climate, and to 2) determine whether the relationship between these variables are influenced by local climate.

Height, crown area, and basal stem circumference be will recorded on A. tridentata individuals across two sites in Eastern Idaho, and subsequently harvested at the base of the primary basal stem. Aboveground biomass and age determination will be conducted post-harvest. Stem circumference will be analyzed as a function of age, as well as age being analyzed as a function of morphology. We anticipate that stem circumference will have a strong correlation to age, and that age will correlate with one or more morphological characteristics. These anticipated results will provide a model for rapid and nondestructive age and morphological estimation of Basin Big Sagebrush in an attempt to address the fragmentation of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.