Cara Applestein's research while affiliated with United States Geological Survey and other places

Publications (20)

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Interactions between neighbouring plants drive population and community dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding these interactions is critical for both fundamental and applied ecology. Spatial approaches to model neighbour interactions are necessary, as interaction strength depends on the distance between neighbouring plants. Recent Bayes...
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Plant-population recovery across large disturbance areas is often seed-limited. An understanding of seed-dispersal patterns is fundamental for determining natural-regeneration potential. However, forecasting seed dispersal rates across heterogeneous landscapes remains a challenge. Our objectives were to determine (1) the landscape patterning of pos...
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Megafires are creating severe conservation problems worldwide for wildlife that have obligate dependencies on plant species that are foundational but fire‐intolerant. Wildfire‐induced loss of native perennials and increases in exotic annual grasses threaten greater sage‐grouse (GRSG, Centrocercus urophasianus) in its sagebrush steppe habitat in wes...
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Maps of the distribution and abundance of dominant plants derived from satellite data are essential for ecological research and management, particularly in the vast semiarid shrub-steppe. Appropriate application of these maps requires an understanding of model accuracy and precision, and how it might vary across space, time, and different vegetatio...
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Interannual variation, especially weather, is an often‐cited reason for restoration “failures”; yet its importance is difficult to experimentally isolate across broad spatiotemporal extents, due to correlations between weather and site characteristics. We examined post‐fire treatments within sagebrush‐steppe ecosystems to ask: (1) Is weather follow...
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Habitat loss is the most prevalent threat to biodiversity in North America. One of the most threatened landscapes in the United States is the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem, much of which has been fragmented or converted to non‐native grasslands via the cheatgrass‐fire cycle. Like many sagebrush obligates, greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus ur...
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Disturbances such as fire provide an opportunity for invasive plant species to exploit newly created niche space. Whether initial invaders facilitate, compete with, or do not affect later invaders is important to determine in communities affected by multiple invaders. This analysis focuses on the newer invaders Taeniatherum caput-medusae (medusahea...
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Background The need for basic information on spatial distribution and abundance of plant species for research and management in semiarid ecosystems is frequently unmet. This need is particularly acute in the large areas impacted by megafires in sagebrush steppe ecosystems, which require frequently updated information about increases in exotic annua...
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On the Ground •Use of adaptive management supported by robust monitoring is vital to solving severe rangeland problems, such as the exotic annual grass invasion and fire cycle in sagebrush-steppe rangelands. •Uncertainty in post-fire plant-community composition and plant response to treatments poses a challenge to land management and research but...
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There is an urgent need for near-term predictions of ecological restoration outcomes despite imperfect knowledge of ecosystems. Restoration outcomes are always uncertain but integrating Bayesian modeling into the process of adaptive management allows researchers and practitioners to explicitly incorporate prior knowledge of ecosystems into future p...
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Altered climate, including weather extremes, can cause major shifts in vegetative recovery after disturbances. Predictive models that can identify the separate and combined temporal effects of disturbance and weather on plant communities and that are transferable among sites are needed to guide vulnerability assessments and management interventions...
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The Enemy Release Hypothesis proposes that invasion by exotic plant species is driven by their release from natural enemies (i.e. herbivores and pathogens) in their introduced ranges. However, in many cases, natural enemies, which may be introduced or managed to regulate invasive species, may fail to impact target host populations. Landscape hetero...
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Whole‐genome sequencing is revolutionizing our understanding of organismal biology, including adaptations likely to influence demographic performance in different environments. Excitement over the potential of genomics to inform population dynamics has prompted multiple conservation applications, including genomics‐based decision‐making for translo...
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Invasion of exotic annual grasses (EAG) and increased wildfire have led to an emphasis on managing rangeland plant communities for resistance to invasion and resilience to disturbances. In sagebrush steppe and similar rangelands, perennial bunchgrasses and particularly their roots are hypothesized to be primary contributors to resistance and resili...
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Improving predictions of restoration outcomes is increasingly important to resource managers for accountability and adaptive management, yet there is limited guidance for selecting a predictive model from the multitude available. The goal of this paper was to identify an optimal predictive framework for restoration ecology using eleven modeling fra...
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Disturbances such as wildfire create time-sensitive windows of opportunity for invasive plant treatment, and the timing of herbicide application relative to the time course of plant community development following fire can strongly influence herbicide effectiveness. We evaluated the effect of herbicide (imazapic) applied in the first winter or seco...
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The demand for restoration of degraded lands to diverse native habitat is growing, requiring efficient strategies for large-scale seeding and planting of native species. Restoration is often limited by low germination and establishment rates of native plants, so identifying the most effective seeding methods and rates may speed the restoration proc...
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Context Reestablishing foundational plant species through aerial seeding is an essential yet challenging step for restoring the vast semiarid landscapes impacted by plant invasions and wildfire-regime shifts. A key component of the challenge stems from landscape variability and its effects on plant recovery. Objectives We assessed landscape correl...
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Statistically defensible information on vegetation conditions is needed to guide rangeland management decisions following disturbances such as wildfire, often for heterogeneous pastures. Here we evaluate sampling effort needed to achieve a robust statistical threshold using > 2 000 plots sampled on the 2015 Soda Fire that burned across 75 pastures...

Citations

... Weather (i.e. interannual variation in climate) and other "year effects" are commonly discussed potential drivers of variable outcomes in restoration 2,60-64 , including in sagebrush systems 52,65,66 . Timeinvariant mean climatic variables imperfectly capture the specific weather conditions that occurred in the years following restoration. ...
... This extensive post-fire monitoring data, however, allowed us to assess the accuracy of RAP data across our subject landscape. For example, mean absolute error in agreement between RAP remotely sensed vegetation cover and USGS field monitoring data were ±7% for annual herbaceous cover measured in 2020 (Allred et al. 2021;Applestein and Germino 2022). Unsupervised maximum likelihood classification of RAP 2014 vegetation cover maps was used to classify the pre-Soda landscape into land-cover types. ...
... The elevational ascent of invasive grasses across the Great Basin now threatens higher elevation sagebrush communities that were previously believed to be resistant to invasion due to impacts of climate change, which will have a negative effect on sage-grouse habitat . Management efforts that directly affect the control of the spread of annual grasses following a wildfire can positively influence sage-grouse habitat selection (Poessel et al., 2022). ...
... While some studies have found neutral or sometimes desirable effects of grazing on cheatgrass depending on site context (Davies et al., 2009Davies, Bates, Boyd, & Svejcar, 2016), inappropriate livestock grazing is considered to have promoted cheatgrass expansion in sagebrush steppe by causing the selective loss of perennial herbs that are most suited to competing with cheatgrass (Condon & Pyke, 2018a, 2018bPyke et al., 2016;Reisner et al., 2013;Williamson et al., 2020). Thus, temporary or permanent cessation of grazing has become by far the most common type of restoration intervention in sagebrush steppe, albeit a passive one (e.g., post-fire rest; Germino et al., 2021). Vegetation changes after livestock exclusion are thus of high interest. ...
... Perennial bunchgrasses are a key component of rangeland plant communities that increase resistance and resilience to annual grass invasion and wildfire, respectively (Applestein and Germino 2022;Blank et al. 2020;Chambers et al. 2014;Davies and Johnson 2017). Thus, proactively treating invaded areas that continue to support relatively abundant perennial grasses may represent a highly effective approach to B. tectorum management. ...
... The matching process, which incorporated covariates included in past prioritization frameworks and studies of sagebrush restoration 34,35,51,52 , resulted in a subset of the data in which seeded and unseeded locations were similar in terms of these biophysical characteristics (Fig. 2B). Sites also had similar overall probabilities of receiving restoration, despite having different treatment statuses ( Fig. 2A), using a caliper size equivalent to 20% of the standard deviation of the mean propensity score. ...
... Insufficient seeding could cause missed recovery opportunities, while unnecessary seeding of areas with adequate natural seed could waste resources and carry unnecessary collateral ecological risks (e.g. potential introduction of maladapted genotypes, Seaborn et al. 2021). Therefore, there is a pressing ecological need to develop better methods of predicting natural seed dispersal across disturbed landscapes. ...
... As an alternative way to establish fuels across the burned area, we created a coarse land-cover type map by starting with readily available data from the USDA Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP), which combines field monitoring plots from the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring program and the NRCS National Resources Inventory, as well as historic Landsat satellite records to generate yearly predictions of continuous cover (from 0 to 100%) for trees, shrubs, perennial grasses, annual herbaceous cover, and bare soil (Jones et al. 2018;Allred et al. 2021). Though extensive post-fire monitoring data were available for the Soda Fire (e.g., over 2000 plots/year from 2016 to 2020; Germino et al. 2018Germino et al. , 2022Davidson et al. 2019;Applestein and Germino 2021), pre-fire vegetation and fuel data were scarce, and thus, modeled data (i.e., RAP) was relied upon for retrospective fire simulation modeling. This extensive post-fire monitoring data, however, allowed us to assess the accuracy of RAP data across our subject landscape. ...
... Establishing resilient native bunchgrasses is also an effective method to promote beneficial ecosystem services. Native bunchgrasses produce deep roots and stabilize soils [167]. As gaps between bunchgrass plants decrease in size, their ability to compete and limit soil and water availability to invasive grasses is enhanced, naturally limiting their further spread [168]. ...
... There are many challenges associated with restoring degraded landscapes and creating generalizable management plans (Svejcar et al., 2017), including environmental variability in space, such as climate, soil characteristics and topography and in time, for example weather (Hardegree et al., 2018). Even after accounting for these environmental factors, there is often large amounts of unexplained variability in models of vegetation responses to treatments (Barnard et al., 2019;Brudvig et al., 2017). Most rangelands and other semiarid landscapes can have important patch-scale variability in plant community composition that could affect inferences on treatment success if not accounted for. ...