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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.

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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

Regions:
Keywords:
  • 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 (https://www.frames.gov/contact)
FRAMES Record Number: 60837