Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Study finds that oaks can help longleaf pine seedlings survive

Land managers across the Southeast are prioritizing restoration of threatened longleaf pine ecosystems thanks to recent study.

The conventional restoration approach is to remove hardwood trees such as oak presumed to be competitors of longleaf pine seedlings, but a recently published study challenges this practice. SRS research ecologist Louise Loudermilk and colleagues analyzed long-term data on young longleaf pine seedlings at Florida’s Eglin Air Force where longleaf pines dominate the canopy and oaks mostly dominate the midstory and understory. Their findings indicate that the presence of oaks can reduce moisture stress in hot and dry conditions, facilitating survival of longleaf pine seedlings, especially when the seedlings are younger than 2 years old.