2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Marie-Anne de Graaff


The sagebrush steppe ecosystem has been heavily impacted by disturbance, including fires and the invasion of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Both fire and changes in the plant community can impact soil properties that reduce sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) reestablishment success, but in the long-term, these soil properties may recover thus allowing for sagebrush re-establishment. With this study we ask: how do soil properties change in a recovering sagebrush ecosystem? To quantify soil properties and changes therein as succession progresses, I will investigate a 1983 fire on the Orchard Combat Training Center that is experiencing re-establishment of sagebrush. Soil samples have been collected from three areas: (1) areas of no sagebrush regrowth, (2) areas with sagebrush regrowth, and (3) unburned areas adjacent to the fire. I will measure physical, chemical, and biological soil properties that are critical to sagebrush re-establishment. These include soil structure, organic matter content, pH, nitrogen and carbon content, and microbial and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) communities. These results will allow us to evaluate the process of succession following fire and invasion, and the importance of recovery of soil properties in enabling this process.



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