How can prescribed burning and harvesting restore shortleaf pine-oak woodland at the landscape scale in central United States? Modeling joint effects of harvest and fire regimes
- Download PDF (863.0 KB)
- This publication is available only online.
Forest Ecology and Management. 410: 201-210.
Historical fire regimes in the central United States maintained open-canopy shortleaf pine-oak woodlands on xeric sites. Following large-scale harvest and fire suppression, those woodlands grew denser with more continuous canopy cover, and they gained mesic species at the expense of shortleaf pine. There is high interest in restoring shortleaf pine-oak woodlands; most have been converted to other forest types but those that remain are valued for high stand-scale and landscape-scale diversity. Prior stand-scale studies suggest that prescribed burning and harvesting could be effective for restoring pine-oak woodlands. However, previous short-term, stand-scale studies provided little insight into long-term, landscape-scale outcomes. To estimate outcomes of alternative restoration treatments on future species composition and forest structure, we employed an integrated field and modeling approach to simulate effects of prescribed burning and harvesting on the restoration of shortleaf pine-oak woodland composition and structure in the Mark Twain National Forest for a 100-year period. Six scenarios were modeled: no management, burn only, harvest only, and a combination of harvest with burns treatments followed by fire-free intervals of differing starting times or durations to facilitate regeneration recruitment. Both no management and prescribed burn only scenarios cannot restore current forest to historical woodland condition (i.e., 40–80% percent canopy cover or less than 55% stocking); however, scenarios including harvest can restore current forest to woodland condition in late 2020s. Under a no management scenario, total basal area would increase to a maximum around 31 m2 ha−1, and white oak group remained the most dominant species group throughout the simulation. Under the burn only treatment, total basal area was not reduced substantially as compared to that under no management scenario, however, there were small increases in the basal area and density of shortleaf pine. All of the treatments that included a combination of burning and harvesting reduced total basal area, which fluctuated around 13 m2 ha−1 throughout the simulation than those under no management and prescribed only scenarios. The simulations suggested that shortleaf pine would become the most dominant group, followed by white, red oak groups, and other species with combined prescribed burning and harvesting. When coupled with harvest, the prescribed burning regime affected species composition: increasing the number of burns increased the basal area and density of shortleaf pine and decreased the basal area and density of white oak group species.
Jin, Wenchi; He, Hong S.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Wang, Wen J.; Kabrick, John M.; Davidson, Brian K. 2018. How can prescribed burning and harvesting restore shortleaf pine-oak woodland at the landscape scale in central United States? Modeling joint effects of harvest and fire regimes. Forest Ecology and Management. 410: 201-210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.07.040.