Publication Details

Shortleaf pine composition and structure in the United States

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Year Published

2007

Publication

In: Kabrick, John M.; Dey, Daniel C.; Gwaze, David, eds. Shortleaf pine restoration and ecology in the Ozarks: proceedings of a symposium; 2006 November 7-9; Springfield, MO. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-15. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 19-27.

Abstract

Although shortleaf pine currently occupies a prominent position in many eastern forests, particularly on upland sites, many scientists and managers have expressed concern about the future of this species in the absence of the disturbance patterns that facilitated its establishment up to now. Reductions in timber harvesting and fire, in particular, may give the advantage to competitors such as oaks, sweetgum, and maples. Commercial owners have favored the faster-growing loblolly pine over shortleaf pine. Using data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program of the U.S. Forest Service, we looked at current data and temporal trends to gauge the trajectory of shortleaf pine forests in the eastern United States. The shortleaf pine volume per acre of timberland has decreased over the last two to three decades. The shortleaf pine basal area component on forestland has decreased in absolute terms and also represents a decreasing proportion of the total basal area, suggesting that associated species are increasing in their share of the overstory. The total number of shortleaf pine seedlings/saplings in the understory of stands has been decreasing and the proportion of all seedlings/saplings that are shortleaf pines has been declining over the last 20 or so years. The declining proportion of regeneration represented by shortleaf pine suggests a future eastern U.S. forest with substantially reduced proportions of the species in the overstory. Reintroducing disturbances, such as fire, is essential to maintain shortleaf pine's overstory presence and associated biological and economic benefits.

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Citation

Moser, W. Keith; Hansen, Mark; McWilliams, William H.; Sheffield, Raymond M. 2007. Shortleaf pine composition and structure in the United States. In: Kabrick, John M.; Dey, Daniel C.; Gwaze, David, eds. Shortleaf pine restoration and ecology in the Ozarks: proceedings of a symposium; 2006 November 7-9; Springfield, MO. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-15. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 19-27.

Last updated on: October 15, 2007