Thinning and prescribed fire alters hardwood seedling sprouting in the William B Bankhead National Forest, AlabamaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The William B. Bankhead National Forest is using active management to shift mixed Quercus-Pinus forests towards forests more dominated by upland hardwoods. We studied the use of three levels of thinning (none, light thin, and heavy thin) and three levels of prescribed fire (none, one burn, and two burns) and all combinations in a factorial experimental design to assess the level of juvenile sprouting in the hardwood reproduction cohort. Stands were either unthinned, thinned to 75 square feet of residual basal area (light thin), or thinned to 50 square feet residual basal area (heavy thin). The burn treatments included one burn, which was done on all burn treatments within 3 to 5 months post-thin, or two burns, where the second burn was conducted 3 years after the initial burn. All burns were conducted during the dormant season. In all 36 treatment stands, we surveyed five permanent vegetation plots before treatments were initiated, in the first growing season following treatment (thin and initial burn), following the third growing season, and in the fourth growing season (after the second burn). The density of reproduction with multiple sprouts (clumps), the number of sprouts per clump, and the density of all the sprouts were analyzed using all species, all Quercus species combined (seven different species, with the majority being Q. alba L., Q. prinus L., and Q. coccinea Muench.) and for Acer rubrum L., the primary competitor with oaks.