Long-term (13-year) effects of repeated prescribed fires on stand structure and tree regeneration in mixed-oak forests
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Forest Ecology and Management. 286: 87-100.
The survival and growth of oak advance regeneration is often limited by shade-tolerant species that are abundant in the understory of oak stands. Evidence of historic burning has prompted the use of prescribed fire as a tool to improve the competitive status of oak regeneration in mature stands. A primary shortfall of fire effects research in oak forests has been a lack of long-term studies on the effects of multiple fires. Here we describe the effects of repeated fires on stand structure and tree regeneration over a 13-year period in mature mixed-oak forests located in southern Ohio, USA. Three stands were burned 3-5 times from 1996 to 2005 with low-intensity dormant-season fires, and two stands remained unburned. Woody vegetation was sampled periodically on nine 0.125 ha plots per stand. Plots were located across the upland landscape and were characterized by an Integrated Moisture Index. Fire altered stand structure by reducing the density of large saplings (3.0-9.9 cm DBH) and midstory trees (10-25 cm DBH) by 76% and 34%, respectively. Fire had little impact on trees >25 cm DBH. Small saplings (1.4 m tall to 2.9 cm DBH) were dynamic over time on dry plots that were burned.
Keywordsfire; Quercus; Acer; structure; regeneration; competition
Hutchinson, Todd F.; Yaussy, Daniel A.; Long, Robert P.; Rebbeck, Joanne; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy. 2012. Long-term (13-year) effects of repeated prescribed fires on stand structure and tree regeneration in mixed-oak forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 286: 87-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2012.08.036.