Skip to main content

Resource Catalog


Type: Report
Author(s): Patrick D. Keyser; Charles Kwit; Michael C. Stambaugh; Andrew L. Vander Yacht
Publication Date: 2018

Removing fire’s influence from Southern Appalachian and Central Hardwood forests (Mid-South) has1) virtually eliminatedcommunities defined byshortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and native warm-season grasses, 2) greatly altered fuel-bed properties, 3) limited the regeneration of shade-intolerant and fire-adapted woody species, and 4) decreased herbaceous ground cover and diversity. We evaluated the ability of canopy-disturbance (none, 7, and 14 m2ha-1residual basal area) and fire-season (none, October, and March) combinations to reverse such trends by monitoring vegetation and fuels from 2008 to 2016 at three sites located across the Mid-South. Shortleaf pine regeneration and native warm-season grasses occurred when canopy closure wasreduced below 65% and the dominance of understory woody vegetation was reduced. Regardless of degree, thinning doubled (+19.6 Mg ha-1) coarse woody fuels (diameter >0.66 cm) and 3 biennial fires did not affect this difference. A net reduction of fine-fuels (reduced woody [litter and 1-hour], increased herbaceous) followed thinning and burning; however, maintenance required biennial burning,and the rate of herbaceous fuel increase suggested future compensation for observed reductions in fine woody-fuels.Thinning and fire shifted understory woody communities towards shade-intolerant and fire-tolerant woody species. Management nearly doubled (+2,256 stems ha-1) oak (Quercus spp.) seedling density across all sites, but persistent mesophyticspecies (largely red maple [Acer rubrum]) limited response. Increases in herbaceous diversity from pre-to post-management across sites ranged from 3.4- to 5.2-fold. Across all monitoring, the effects of fire-season were not strong. Our results question restoration associated thinning and burning as regionally effective treatments, but demonstrate that disturbance increases the diversity, function, and sustainability of regional forest communities.

Online Links
Link to this document (3.1 MB; pdf)
Citation: Keyser, Patrick D.; Kwit, Charles; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Vander Yacht, Andrew L. 2018. Effectiveness of joint fuel treatments and vegetation management in restoring eastern upland oak ecosystems - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. JFSP Project No. 13-1-04-14. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee-Knoxville. 50 p.

Cataloging Information

  • bluestem
  • canopy disturbance
  • fire season
  • fire suppression
  • fuel treatment
  • herbaceous fuel
  • mesophication
  • North Carolina
  • oak ecosystem
  • oak regeneration
  • Pinus echinata
  • savanna
  • shortleaf pine
  • Tennessee
  • thinning
  • warm-season grass
  • woodland
  • woody encroachment
JFSP Project Number(s):
  • 13-1-04-14
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 60837