We evaluated 6 years of vegetation response following prescribed fire in Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp. wyomingensis) steppe on vegetation cover, productivity, and nutritional quality of forbs preferred by greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), and abundance of common arthropod orders. Habitat cover (shrubs and tall herbaceous cover [>18 cm ht]) was about 50% lower after burning compared to unburned controls because of the loss of sagebrush. Perennial grasses and an invasive annual forb, pale alyssum (Alyssum alyssoides), increased in cover or yield after fire. There were no increases in yield or nutritional quality of forb species important in diets of sage-grouse. Abundance of ants (Hymenoptera), a significant component in the diet of young sage-grouse, decreased after fire. These results suggest that prescribed fire will not improve habitat characteristics for sage-grouse in Wyoming big sagebrush steppe where the community consists of shrubs, native grasses, and native forbs.
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Vol. 74 • No. 4