Operationalizing resilience and resistance concepts to address invasive grass-fire cycles

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 

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Abstract

Plant invasions can affect fuel characteristics, fire behavior, and fire regimes resulting in invasive plant-fire cycles and alternative, self-perpetuating states that can be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Concepts related to general resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive plants provide the basis for managing landscapes to increase their capacity to reorganize and adjust following fire, while concepts related to spatial resilience provide the basis for managing landscapes to conserve resources and habitats and maintain connectivity. New, spatially explicit approaches and decision-tools enable managers to understand and evaluate general and spatial resilience to fire and resistance to invasive grasses across large landscapes in arid and semi-arid shrublands and woodlands. These approaches and tools provide the capacity to locate management actions strategically to prevent development of invasive grass-fire cycles and maintain or improve resources and habitats. In this review, we discuss the factors that influence fire regimes, general and spatial resilience to fire, resistance to invasive annual grasses, and thus invasive grass-fire cycles in global arid and semi-arid shrublands and woodlands. The Cold Deserts, Mediterranean Ecoregion, and Warm Deserts of North America are used as model systems to describe how and why resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive annuals differ over large landscapes. The Cold Deserts are used to illustrate an approach and decision tools for prioritizing areas on the landscape for management actions to prevent development of invasive grass-fire cycles and protect high value resources and habitats and for determining effective management strategies. The concepts and approach herein represent a paradigm shift in the management of these ecosystems, which allows managers to use geospatial tools to identify resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive plants in order to target conservation and restoration actions where they will provide the greatest benefits.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Operationalizing resilience and resistance concepts to address invasive grass-fire cycles
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.3389/fevo.2019.00185
Volume 7
Issue 185
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Frontiers Media
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center, Forest and Rangeland Ecosys Science Center