Ventenata dubia and fire in the Blues

Ecosystem change in the Blue Mountains Ecoregion: exotic invaders, shifts in fuel structure, and management implications 


Investigators: Becky Kerns (USDA FS/PNW-Corvallis), Meg Krawchuk (OSU), Nicole Vaillant (USDA USFS/PNW-Prineville), John Kim (USDA USFS/PNW-Corvallis), Bridgett Naylor (USDA USFS/PNW-La Grande). Graduate student investigators: Claire Tortorelli, Ty Nieptuski, Lila Leatherman, Luke Ridder.

For more information, see our project website.

 This project is completed.



The objectives of the research are multi-phased and include:

  1. Determine the state of the Ventenata dubia (ventenata) invasion in the Blue Mountains Ecoregion (BME) and examine how the invasion has changed through time and what environmental (climate, soil, light) and disturbance (fire and grazing) factors influence and/or exacerbate populations. Develop a spatially explicit map of ventenata distribution and spread, and predictive model habitat suitability in the BME. Research questionsWhere is ventenata increasing across the landscape? What environmental factors are related to presence? What type of disturbances and management practices are exacerbating populations?

  2. Determine how different future climate change scenarios may alter the habitat suitability and potential distribution of ventenata in the BME. Research question: How might climate change alter the ventenata invasion?

  3. Examine and describe ventenata dynamics in scablands and open areas. A. Examine the post-fire response of ventenata to recent wildfires. Research questions: Does fire exacerbate ventenata populations? Is the response related to fire severity, pre-fire invasion levels, or environmental conditions? B. Characterize ventenata populations along open area/forested edges in invaded areas that have not burned. Research questions: What do open area/forested edges look like with respect to spread of ventenata into the forested understory? Does ventenata invasion result in fuel connectivity at these edges?

  4. Estimate potential shifts in fuels and fire regimes by developing scenarios to examine how the ventenata invasion might change fuels, fire behavior, burn probabilities, fire size and fire effects across large landscapes now and into the future using several operational climate change scenarios. Research questions: How might fuels, fire regimes, and fire effects shift across the region when the ventenata invasion reaches full potential (e.g. all available habitat invaded)? How might fuels, fire regimes, and fire effects shift across the region under future climate change?