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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

Sustaining Forests

The Ecology and Silviculture for Restoration of Shortleaf Pine

Research Issue

[photo:] Shortleaf pine commonly grows with hardwoods in the Missouri Ozarks and elsewhere in the Central Hardwood Region.  Management of pine with hardwoods in natural stands is a new line of research to develop silvicultural systems for regenerating pine and sustaining it in forest and woodland systems.Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) is the most widely distributed of the four main southern pines. It occurs along with oaks in the southern portion of the Central Hardwood Forest Region. In the Ozark Highlands, this species was once prominent on about 4.2 million acres and important on an additional 2.4 million acres.

Today, shortleaf pine in its native range often comprises less than 15 percent of the forest, having been displaced by black oaks (Quercus velutina) and scarlet oaks (Q. coccinea) following extensive timber harvesting and subsequent land clearing and frequent burning during the early 1900s. These two species of oaks are particularly susceptible to oak decline as they mature. Consequently, there are now hundreds of thousands of acres of declining oak forests on sites where shortleaf pine or pine-oak mixtures were formerly prominent.

There is renewed interest in restoring shortleaf pine throughout its native range in the Ozark Highlands and elsewhere in the Central Hardwood Forest Region and in the southeastern United States. Restoring shortleaf pine on former pine and oak-pine sites is viewed as a long-term strategy for mitigating chronic oak decline. There also is an increasing interest in restoring native oak-pine woodland communities where they once were abundant.

Our Research

There is a rich history of shortleaf pine research by USDA Forest Service scientists in the Central Hardwood Forest Region culminating in two pivotal management guides. These guides largely addressed the need for managing shortleaf pine timber production by recommending procedures for intensively managing shortleaf pine in plantations. Today, foresters are increasingly seeking more natural methods for restoring shortleaf pine in mixes with oaks and other native hardwoods by emulating natural disturbance regimes.

Our research is designed to provide the new information needed for restoring and managing shortleaf pine mixes by emulating natural disturbances to meet natural community and habitat goals while still producing timber. We are developing fundamental information about the establishment and growth rates of naturally- and artificially-regenerated pine seedlings under different levels of oak seedling competition and overstory densities in declining oak stands and in thinned stands. We are examining the application of prescribed fire for preparing seedbeds and controlling hardwood competition while maintaining a healthy understory and herbaceous community.

Expected Outcomes

Our goals are to develop fundamental information about how to establish and recruit pine-oak mixes and then use this information to develop management guidelines to be applied on both public and private forest land.

Research Results

Kabrick, J.M.; Dey, D.C.; Shifley, S.R.; Villwock, J.L.. 2011. Early survival and growth of planted shortleaf pine seedlings as a function of initial size and overstory stocking. In: Fei, S.; Lhotka, J.L.; Stringer, J.; Gottschalk, K.W. and G.W. Miller (eds.) Proceedings, 17th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 2010 April 5-7; Lexington, KY. NRS-GTR-P-78. Newtown Square, PA: USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 277-286. CD-ROM.

Kabrick, J.M., D.C. Dey, D. Gwaze, eds. 2007. Shortleaf pine restoration and ecology in the Ozarks: Proceedings of a symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-15. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 215 p.

Blizzard, E.M.; Henken, D.; Kabrick, J.M.; Dey, D.C.; Larsen, D.R.; Gwaze, D. 2007. Shortleaf pine reproduction advance and growth in pine-oak stands in the Missouri Ozarks. In: Kabrick, J.M.; Dey, D.C.; Gwaze, D. (eds.) 2007. Shortleaf pine restoration and ecology in the Ozarks: Proceedings of a symposium. NRS-GTR-P-15. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 138-146.

Gwaze, D.; Myszewski, J.; Kabrick, J.M. . 2007. Performance of shortleaf pine provenances in Missouri. In: Kabrick, J.M.; Dey, D.C.; Gwaze, D. (eds.) 2007. Shortleaf pine restoration and ecology in the Ozarks: Proceedings of a symposium. NRS-GTR-P-15. Newtown Square, PA: USDAS Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 89-94.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Daniel C. Dey, Research Forester, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station
  • John M. Kabrick, Research Forester, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station
  • Felix Ponder, Jr., Research Soil Scientist, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Research Partners

 

Last Modified: 01/24/2012