Brendan Bischoff | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 17/12/2020
9:00 am - 10:00 am

A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES MSc Final Exam Seminar by Brendan Bischoff. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.

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Meeting ID: 990 1432 0239
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Thesis Topic: Vegetation response to fall wildfire in the mixedgrass prairie of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada

MSc with Dr. Cameron Carlyle.

Seminar Abstract:

Post-fire rangeland management is typically a period of rest on the Great Plains of North America, but recent research has questioned if long periods of rest are necessary. This study was designed to test the effects of post-fire defoliation timing in the first growing season following wildfire and to monitor the length of time needed for vegetative recovery on ungrazed native rangeland in the mixedgrass prairie of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Early post-fire defoliation and wildfire did not have any effects on plant productivity, however late season defoliation did have a negative effect. Land managers should consider delayed recovery in plant production from late season post-fire defoliation if they choose to graze pastures in the first growing season following burning. Monitoring of recovery on ungrazed native pastures found that plant productivity was still reduced three years after wildfire, which suggests that long-periods of rest may be required even without livestock grazing. My findings indicate that litter biomass was reduced by wildfire and all defoliation treatments and further, monitoring showed litter on burned subplots was only 35% compared to non-burned by the third growing season following burning. Litter helps grassland communities retain moisture and a reduction in litter material could have long-term consequences for plant growth, especially when environmental conditions are water limiting. Given the importance of litter to plant productivity, post-fire pasture management should allow litter to accumulate to ensure the long-term maintenance and sustainability of the forage resource. Importantly, I found a relationship between total biomass and non-burned range health scores, which may indicate that pastures that are managed to maintain or improve rangeland health will improve the rate of post-fire plant production recovery. Vegetative tissue protein concentration increased in the early part of the first growing season following wildfire, but the difference disappeared by July. Increased forage quality at the beginning of the first growing season following wildfire may or may not be beneficial depending on pasture management. Information gathered from this study will provide grazing managers with advice for future post-fire management decisions in the mixedgrass prairie.