Living with exotic annual grasses in the sagebrush ecosystem.
Exotic annual grasses dominate millions of hectares and increase fire frequency in the sagebrush ecosystem of North America. This devastating invasion is so costly and challenging to revegetate with perennial vegetation that restoration efforts need to be prioritized and strategically implemented. Management needs to break the annual grass-fire cycle and prevent invasion of new areas, while research is needed to improve restoration success. Under current land management and climate regimes, extensive areas will remain annual grasslands, because of their expansiveness and the low probability of transition to perennial dominance. We propose referring to these communities as Intermountain West Annual Grasslands, recognizing that they are a stable state and require different management goals and objectives than perennial-dominated systems. We need to learn to live with annual grasslands, reducing their costs and increasing benefits derived from them, at the same time maintaining landscape-level plant diversity that could allow transition to perennial dominance under future scenarios. To accomplish this task, we propose a framework and research to improve our ability to live with exotic annual grasses in the sagebrush biome.