Hardwood-pine mixedwoods stand dynamics following thinning and prescribed burning

Abstract

Restoration of hardwood-pine (Pinus L.) mixedwoods is an important man-agement goal in many pine plantations in the southern Cumberland Plateau in north-central Alabama, USA.  Pine plantations have been relatively un-managed since initiation, and thus include a diversity of hardwoods developing in the understory.  These unmanaged pine plantations have become increasingly vulnerable to insects, and management activities were initiated to facilitate transition towards hardwood-pine mixedwoods.  We evaluated a combination of thinning and prescribed fire prescriptions in a randomized complete block design with a 3 × 3 factorial treatment arrangement and four replications of each treatment.  Treatments were combinations of thinning to three residual basal areas (no thin, light thin to 17.2 m2 ha-1, heavy thin to 11.5 m2 ha-1) and three prescribed burn applications (no burn, one burn to be repeated every 9 years, three burns repeated every 3 years).  Burning without thinning altered stand structure by reducing overstory stem density by 15 %, whereas thinning without burning reduced density by 70 % and burning coupled with thinning resulted in reduced overstory trees by 72 %.  Frequent fire had the greatest impact on midstory structure and regeneration.  Midstory stem density was reduced by 90 % following thinning and burning.  Oaks (Quercus L.) and red maple (Acer rubrum L.) were the most com-mon understory species after thinning only, burning only, and thinning com-bined with burning.  There were more oak and red maple seedling sprouts following frequent burning.  Currently, >75 % of red maple sprouts dominate the regeneration, compared to only 40 % of the oaks.  Although the treat-ments have accelerated the transition toward hardwood-pine mixedwoods, the fate of oak and which hardwood species will be dominant in the future remains uncertain.

  • Citation: Schweitzer, Callie Jo; Dey, Daniel C.; Wang, Yong 2016. Hardwood-pine mixedwoods stand dynamics following thinning and prescribed burning. Fire Ecology 12(2): 85-104. 20 p.
  • Keywords: Alabama, Cumberland Plateau, oaks, prescribed fire, red maple, regeneration, sap-lings, sprouts, thinning, William B. Bankhead National Forest
  • Posted Date: June 20, 2016
  • Modified Date: June 20, 2016
  • Requesting Print Publications

    Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.

    Please make any requests at pubrequest@fs.fed.us.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.