5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 8:00 AM
Effects of fire intensity on vegetative composition in Piedmont loblolly-shortleaf pine communities: Preliminary results of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study
Sandra Rideout, USDA Forest Service, Clemson, SC; and R. J. Phillips and T. A. Waldrop
In forests which historically had short fire return intervals, several factors over the past century, including fire suppression, farming, timber harvest and climate change, have led to forests with less spatial heterogeneity, a greater abundance of small-diameter trees, and greater fuel loading. These changes have resulted in an increased likelihood of wildfire, as well as a deterioration of forest health. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (FFS) was established to investigate the ecological, economical, and social consequences of fuel reduction techniques on vegetation, fuels and fire behavior, wildlife, pathogens, insects, soils and economics and utilization in these forests with historic frequent, low-severity fire regimes. National sampling protocols have been developed and are followed at all study sites, allowing for both regional and national comparisons.

As part of the FFS study, prescribed burning, thinning, and a combination of burning and thinning were conducted in loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) and shortleaf pine (P. echinata Mill.) communities in the Piedmont of South Carolina. Each treatment, including a control, was replicated three times. Pre- and post-treatment data for all vegetation less than 1.4 m tall were collected in 20 x 1 m2 subplots of each of 10 vegetation plots in each treatment area. Before conducting prescribed burns, tiles with heat-sensitive paint were placed at five points along the midline of each vegetation plot in the burn-only and thin+burn treatment areas. Heat-sensitive paint indicated the maximum temperature, or fire intensity, reached. Intensity data were compared to post-fire percent cover of grasses, forbs, shrubs, vines and trees.

Primarily, this paper illustrates the relationship between fire intensity and vegetative response. It also validates ordination results of a previous study that indicated an apparent association between disturbance intensity of all fuel reduction techniques and post-treatment percent cover of different vegetative life forms (Phillips et al., 2003).

Phillips, R.J., T.A. Waldrop, G.L. Chapman, H.H. Mohr, M.A. Callaham and C.T. Flint, Jr. 2003. Effects of fuel reduction techniques on vegetative composition of Piedmont loblolly-shortleaf pine communities: Preliminary results of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate study. Proceedings of the Twelfth Biennial Southern Silviculture Research Conference. In review.

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