Skip to Main Content
Temporal and spatial patterns in fire occurrence during the establishment of mixed-oak forests in eastern North AmericaAuthor(s): Ryan W. McEwan; Todd F. Hutchinson; Robert P. Long; Robert D. Ford; Brian C. McCarthy
Source: Journal of Vegetation Science. 18: 655-664.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (450.5 KB)
DescriptionWhat was the role of fire during the establishment of the current overstory (ca. 1870-1940) in mixed-oak forests of eastern North America? Nine sites representing a 240-km latitudinal gradient on the Allegheny and Cumberland Plateaus of eastern North America. Basal cross-sections were collected from 225 trees. Samples were surfaced, and fire scars were dated. Fire history diagrams were constructed and fire return intervals were calculated for each site. Geographic patterns of fire occurrence, and fire-climate relationships were assessed. Fire was a frequent and widespread occurrence during the formation of mixed-oak forests, which initiated after large-scale land clearing in the region ca. 1870. Fire return ranged from 1.7 to 11.1 years during a period of frequent burning from 1875 to 1936. Fires were widespread during this period, sometimes occurring across the study region in the same year. Fires occurred in a variety of climate conditions, including both drought and non-drought years. Fires were rare from 1936 to the present. A variety of fire regime characteristics were discerned. First, a period of frequent fire lasted approximately 60 years during the establishment of the current oak overstory. Second, fire occurred during a variety of climate conditions, including wet climates and extreme drought. Finally, there was within-site temporal variability in fire occurrence. These reference conditions could be mimicked in ongoing oak restoration activities, improving the likelihood of restoration success.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationMcEwan, Ryan W.; Hutchinson, Todd F.; Long, Robert P.; Ford, Robert D.; McCarthy, Brian C. 2007. Temporal and spatial patterns in fire occurrence during the establishment of mixed-oak forests in eastern North America. Journal of Vegetation Science. 18: 655-664.
Keywordsdeciduous forest, dendroecology, disturbance, fire scar, oak, Quercus alba, tree ring
- Establishment and growth of oak (Quercus alba, Quercus prinus) seedlings in burned and fire-excluded upland forests on the Cumberland Plateau.
- The fireoak literature of eastern North America: synthesis and guidelines
- Development of prescribed fire as a silvicultural tool for the upland oak forests of the eastern United States
XML: View XML