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Resilience of an urban coastal sage scrub remnant to wildfire fuel modification

Sean S. Anderson (CSU Channel Islands) John G. Lambrinos (OSU) Thomas R. Huggins (UCLA) Barry A. Prigge (UCLA) Greg R. Schrott (Archbold Bio Station) John C. Malone (Anchor QEA)

2003

fire image: NASA

coastal sage scrub

managing fire risk in costal So Cal

representative css development

Can we convert css to a less fire-prone assemblage buffering our SoCal urban areas?

coastal sage scrub
“soft” chaparral: soft, drought-deciduous leaves

Artemisia californica California sagebrush

Salvia leucophylla purple sage

coastal sage scrub

“soft” chaparral: soft, drought-deciduous leaves

Artemisia californica California sagebrush

! !
Salvia leucophylla purple sage

Lolium multiflorum Italian ryegrass

Trifolium repens white clover

candidate species
“less” fire prone, easy to grow, prostrate

1965: the brave new world of fire-minimizing landscaping

Remnant patch of coastal sage scrub on the UCLA campus intact as of 1959

fuel modification exp

Patch cleared of native vegetation & planted with non-natives in 1962-64

fuel modification exp

vegetation: 1964
active maintenance of exp. treatments (irrigation, fertilizer, herbicide) ceased in 1964

vegetation: 2011
vegetation has now recovered as a mix of non-native weeds & native css spp.

methods
1)  RELOCATE 2 ac plot on the UCLA campus 2)  SAMPLE VEGETATION 3)  ANALYZE
May 2000 & 2006 surveys 8 x 20m transects parallel to the 45º NW facing slope compared modern UCLA plot with

a)  1962 experimental planting records = spp. list b)  1975 survey of the site (Westman 1976) = pres/absence c)  2006 reference coastal sage scrub in nearby Thousand Oaks unburned for >20 years = % cover (ANOVA)

UCLA plot
May 2006

reference site
May 2006

initially non-native dominated, now non-native = native

richness

Species richness

100 80 60 40 20 0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 Planted 1962 New recruits

fuel management spp. steadily !, now few remain

richness

Year

grasses

Bromus tectorum Bromus diandrus Bromus madritensis rubens Festuca megalura Lolium multiflorum Melica imperfecta Nassella lepida Nassella pulchra Phalaris aquatica Piptatherum miliaceum planted in 1962 planted in 1962 planted in 1962

also in ref

UCLA plot species

herbs

Brassica nigra Gnaphalium sp. Lactuca serriola Lantana montevidensis Marah macrocarpus Passiflora caerulea Verbena lasiostachys Vicia villosa var. varia planted in 1962 also in ref

only 5 of 47 spp. planted in 1962 persist

non-native in pink

shrubs

Artemesia californica Baccharis pilularis Malosma laurina Mimulus aurantiacus Opuntia sp. Rhamnus californica Salvia mellifera Solanum xanti planted in 1962

also in ref also in ref also in ref

UCLA plot species

only 5 of 47 spp. planted in 1962 persist

non-native in pink

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Sørensen’s CC
Sørensen’s = 200*c /(a+b) a = # of spp. in reference b = # of spp. in UCLA plot c = # of spp. in common

SØrensenʼs CC

30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

Year

35

Sørensen’s CC

SØrensenʼs CC

30 25 20 15 10 5

note: used a different ref plot

Sørensen’s = 200*c /(a+b) a = # of spp. in reference b = # of spp. in UCLA plot c = # of spp. in common

0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

Year

35

Sørensen’s CC
Sørensen’s = 200*c /(a+b) a = # of spp. in reference b = # of spp. in UCLA plot c = # of spp. in common

SØrensenʼs CC

30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

Year

100 100

% cover

% Cover

80 80 60 60

Reference UCLA

40 40
20 20

p = 0.002
df = 1,14

18x more non-native than native

0

Non-native Native
bars: mean ± 1se

100 100

% cover

% Cover

80 60 40 20
0

Reference UCLA

p < 0.001
df = 1,14

59x more grass than reference

Shrub Grass Herb
bars: mean ± 1se

100 100

% cover

UCLA veg 1.4x reference

% Cover

80 80 60 60

Reference UCLA

40 40
20 20

0 Bare Dead Plant Ground Shrub Cover
bars: mean ± 1se

UCLA plot
May 2006

reference site
May 2006

conclusions
1. Most (89%) species planted for fuel modification in 1962 have been lost from the site. Those that remained are the most aggressive weedy spp. This suggests intensive maintenance (irrigation, weeding, fertilization, re-planting) is needed to sustain buffers.

conclusions
2. Current site floristics only partially resembles un-manipulated coastal sage scrub. Isolation of fragmented buffers (the norm in SoCal) may limit re-colonization by natives. In addition, the urbanized location of most such buffers contribute to high propagule pressure of nonnative species.

conclusions
3. Shrubs & non-native grasses in un-maintained buffers " fuel loads relative to un-manipulated css, " fire risk to areas at the urban-scrub interface. Buffers may also facilitate the spread of non-native species into wildlands.

conclusions
4. Given the costs associated with maintenance, risks of invasive species spread, and risks of ultimately increasing fuel loads, further research is needed to improve buffer design and to determine if such landscape management tools are a responsible use of scare resources.

management suggestions
1.  Stop building $#@! in css communities. 2.  As we clearly have failed to demonstrate an ability to perpetually manage a fire management buffer, we should not be encouraging them at this point in time.

Stay in touch…
Sean Anderson
ESRM Program CSU Channel Islands

(805) 732-2732 sean.anderson@csuci.edu
http://faculty.csuci.edu/sean.anderson/

fuel modification: preferred species