Pinyon and Juniper Woodlands in the Intermountain West: Fire Ecology, Resilience, and Resistance
Pinyon and juniper woodlands occupy more than 70 million acres in the Intermountain Region of the American West. They grow at elevations ranging from <2,000 to >8,000 ft and are typically found in precipitation zones between 10 to 20 inches. Seasonal distribution of precipitation significantly varies regionally with <10 to >35% received as summer precipitation. Disturbance regimes and the dynamics between sagebrush-steppe and sagebrush shrub particularly as they relate to fire and drought also significantly vary both at regional and local scales. The high degree of heterogeneity across these woodlands makes interpreting or predicting vegetation response to disturbance or vegetation management a challenge. In this presentation we will briefly look at woodland ecology and history and then address these key questions: 1) To what degree can we generalize about the history (e.g. expansion and infill), ecology, and management of these woodlands? 2) And, can we use the concepts of resilience and resistance to sort out the heterogeneity and better predict outcomes following wildfire or vegetation management at local and regional scales?