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Vegetation-site relationships and fire history of a savanna-glade-woodland mosaic in the OzarksAuthor(s): Sean E. Jenkins; Richard Guyette; Alan J. Rebertus
Source: In: Pallardy, Stephen G.; Cecich, Robert A.; Garrett, H. Gene; Johnson, Paul S., eds. Proceedings of the 11th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-188. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 184-201
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: North Central Research Station
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DescriptionThere is a growing interest in reconstructing past disturbance regimes and how they influenced plant composition, structure and landscape pattern. Such information is useful to resource managers for determining the effects of fire suppression on vegetation or tailoring prescribed fires to restore community and landscape diversity. In the spring of 1995, the National Park Service reintroduced landscape-scale prescribed fire to an extensive oak/pine woodland-savanna-glade complex on Turkey Mountain, Buffalo National River, Arkansas. We took advantage of this opportunity to: (1) reconstruct the fire history of Turkey Mountain from fire scars and (2) determine how plant composition, forest structure, and past fire intensity varied along topoedaphic gradients before the site was burned. A fire history was derived from wedges or cross-sections of one dead and eight live shortleaf pines. Woody and herbaceous vegetation were sampled in 18, 20 by 25-m plots systematically spaced along transects running upslope. The percentage of trees scarred was determined in 80, 20 by 20- or 20 by 40-m plots located along transects running upslope. Highest plant diversity occurred on shallow, calcareous soils (limestone glades). Lowest diversity was associated with deeper, acidic soils and high woody basal area. Vegetation composition changed gradually along environmental gradients, but the most distinct flora was associated with: (1) limestone glades, (2) deeper acid soils, (3) high basal area sites, and (4) sandstone glades. Savanna herbaceous species were characteristic of sites with intermediate soil depth and fertility. Black hickory, post oak, eastern red cedar, and chinquapin oak were overstory dominants. Encroachment of cedar (on circumneutral soils), black jack oak, and black hickory (on acidic soils) may pose a serious threat to the diverse flora. For the 223-year fire record, the mean return interval was 5.7 years. The longest fire-free interval was 34 years (1770-1804) and the shortest was 1 year. No fire scars were documented between 1972 and 1993. The number of trees scarred per plot increased with fetch (distance from the bottom of the mountain), proximity to south-southwest slope aspects (especially on steeper slopes), and distance from the Buffalo River. Past variation in fire frequency and intensity may have acted synergistically with topoedaphic gradients to maintain a mosaic of plant communities.
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CitationJenkins, Sean E.; Guyette, Richard; Rebertus, Alan J. 1997. Vegetation-site relationships and fire history of a savanna-glade-woodland mosaic in the Ozarks. In: Pallardy, Stephen G.; Cecich, Robert A.; Garrett, H. Gene; Johnson, Paul S., eds. Proceedings of the 11th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-188. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 184-201
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