Publication Details

Current research on restoring ridgetop pine communities with stand replacement fire

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Waldrop, Thomas A.; Welch, Nicole Turrill; Brose, Patrick H.; [and others]

Year Published

2000

Publication

In: Yaussy, Daniel A., comp. Proceedings: workshop on fire, people, and the central hardwoods landscape; 2000 March 12-14; Richmond, KY. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-274. Newton Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 103-109.

Abstract

Ridgetop pine communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains historically have been maintained by lightning- and human-caused fires. With fire suppression for several decades, characteristic stands are entering later seral stages. They typically have an overstory of Table Mountain (Pinus pungens)and/or pitch pine (P. rigida), a midstory of chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), and a shrub layer of dense mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Previous research suggests that restoration of these communities can be accomplished with the high-intensity fires that open the forest canopy and expose mineral soil. Three recent studies examined plant-community response to high-intensity prescribed fires. A series of corollary studies help to explain some of the results of these field studies. High and medium-high intensity fires provided adequate sunlight for pines seedlings, whereas medium-low and low intensity fires did not. Post-burn duff was deep and did not vary by fire intensity. We observed sufficient seedling densities to restore pine-dominated stands after all but the highest intensity fires. Many seedlings survived the first growing season as their roots penetrated duff to reach mineral soil. Hardwood rootstocks resprouted on sites treated with all fire intensities and may outcompete pine seedlings for available resources. High-intensity fires may have reduced mycorrhizal abundance and moisture availability for new germinants. Fires of lower intensity than previously recommended or multiple fires of very low-intensity may best provide conditions for pine regeneration, but additional research is needed.

Citation

Waldrop, Thomas A.; Welch, Nicole Turrill; Brose, Patrick H.; [and others] 2000. Current research on restoring ridgetop pine communities with stand replacement fire. In: Yaussy, Daniel A., comp. Proceedings: workshop on fire, people, and the central hardwoods landscape; 2000 March 12-14; Richmond, KY. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-274. Newton Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 103-109.

Last updated on: February 5, 2008