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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): John T. Abatzoglou; Crystal A. Kolden
Publication Date: 2011

Anthropogenic climate change is hypothesized to modify the spread of invasive annual grasses across the deserts of the western United States. The influence of climate change on future invasions depends on both climate suitability that defines a potential species range and the mechanisms that facilitate invasions and contractions. A suite of downscaled climate projections for the mid-21st century was used to examine changes in physically based mechanisms, including critical physiological temperature thresholds, the timing and availability of moisture, and the potential for large wildfires. Results suggest widespread changes in 1) the length of the freeze-free season that may favor cold-intolerant annual grasses, 2) changes in the frequency of wet winters that may alter the potential for establishment of invasive annual grasses, and 3) an earlier onset of fire season and a lengthening of the window during which conditions are conducive to fire ignition and growth furthering the fire-invasive feedback loop. We propose that a coupled approach combining bioclimatic envelope modeling with mechanistic modeling targeted to a given species can help land managers identify locations and species that pose the highest level of overall risk of conversion associated with the multiple stressors of climate change.

Online Links
Citation: Abatzoglou, John T.; Kolden, Crystal A. 2011. Climate change in western US deserts: potential for increased wildfire and invasive annual grasses. Rangeland Ecology & Management 64(5):471-478.

Cataloging Information

Climate    Models    Weather
Partner Sites:
  • air temperature
  • American deserts
  • annual plant
  • Bromus rubens
  • Bromus tectorum
  • buffelgrass
  • cheatgrass
  • climate change
  • climatology
  • deserts
  • drought
  • fire danger rating
  • fire frequency
  • fire hazard
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • fuel moisture
  • global climate models
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • invasive species
  • Pennisetum ciliare
  • precipitation
  • range management
  • red brome
  • shrublands
  • temperature
  • western United States
  • wildfires
Tall Timbers Record Number: 26408Location Status: In-fileCall Number: Journals - RAbstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 11001

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.
This document is part of the Southwest FireCLIME Annotated Bibliography, which includes published research related to the interactions between climate change, wildfire, and subsequent ecosystem effects in the southwestern U.S. The publications contained in the Bibliography have each been summarized to distill the outcomes as they pertain to fire and climate. Go to this document's record in the Southwest FireCLIME Annotated Bibliography.