Short-Term Butterfly Response to Sagebrush Steppe Restoration Treatments Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/s7526f21j

This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by the Society for Range Management and can be found at:  http://www.srmjournals.org/

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  • As part of the Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP), butterflies were surveyed pre-treatment and up to four years post-treatment at 16 widely distributed sagebrush steppe sites in the interior West. Butterfly populations and communities were analyzed in response to treatments (prescribed fire, mechanical, herbicide) designed to restore sagebrush steppe lands encroached by pinyon-juniper woodlands (Pinus, Juniperus spp.) and invaded by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Butterflies exhibited distinct regional patterns of species composition, with communities showing marked variability among sites. Some variation was explained by the plant community, with Mantel's test indicating that ordinations of butterfly and plant communities were closely similar for both woodland sites and for lower elevation treeless (sage-cheat) sites. At woodland sites, responses to stand replacement prescribed fire, clear-cutting, and tree mastication treatments applied to 10–20-ha plots were subtle: 1) no changes were observed in community structure; 2) Melissa blues (Plebejus melissa) and sulfurs (Colias spp.) increased in abundance after either burning or mechanical treatments, possibly due to increase in larval and nectar food resource, respectively; and 3) the juniper hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) declined at sites at which it was initially present, probably due to removal of its larval food source. At sage-cheat sites, after prescribed fire was applied to 25–75-ha plots, we observed 1) an increase in species richness and abundance at most sites, possibly due to increased nectar resources for adults, and 2) an increase in the abundance of skippers (Hesperiidae) and small white butterflies. Linkages between woody species removal, the release of herbaceous vegetation, and butterfly response to treatments demonstrate the importance of monitoring an array of ecosystem components in order to document the extent to which management practices cause unintended consequences.
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  • McIver, J., & Macke, E. (2014). Short-term butterfly response to sagebrush steppe restoration treatments. Rangeland Ecology and Management, 67(5), 539-552. doi:10.2111/REM-D-13-00127.1
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