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Decay Of Fire-Caused snags in Ocala Sand PineAuthor(s): Kenneth W. Outcalt
Source: In: Proceedings of Fire Conference 200, N.G. Sugihara, 50-54
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionSand pine (Pinus clausa) scrub is adapted to. and regenerated by, periodic stand-replacement wildfire, which consumes the understory and kills the overstory. The heat of the fire opens the serotinous cones of Ocala sand pine (P. clausa var. clausa), releasing quantities of seed that reestablish the overstory, while the understory regenerates by sprouting or from soil-stored seed. Resource managers attempt to mimic this process by clear cutting and direct seeding, which seems to work quite well. However. this method results in far fewer snags. which may have important functions in the sand pine scrub ecosystem. Because sand pine is a short-lived species with very little heanwood, it is believed that these snags would be a temporary feature of the system, and thus were not that critical. My study tests this assumption by documenting the life of snags following a stand-replacement fire in sand pine scrub on the Ocala National Forest. Florida. Three stands were burned. one by a.prescribed burn in May 1993 and two by natural fire in August 1993. Prior to the fire. there were 520 Ocala sand pinelha. 96 oakslha, and 137 snagslha. The fire killed all of the sand pine and most of the oaks. Decay proceeded more slowly than expected in the resulting snags. After 2 years 69% retained most of the bark, 27% had lost all bark and most of the limbs. and only 4% had visible sapwood decay. The first snags fell between 12 and 18 months following the fire. but it took 5 years for 50%) of the snaps to fall. At the end of 7 years following the fire, 32% of the sand pine snags were still standing. Thus. the snags in sand pine scrub occur as pan of the structure of the sand pine ecosystem for much longer than expected. Managers may need to consider more prescribed fire in wilderness areas to generate these snags.
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CitationOutcalt, Kenneth W. 2003. Decay Of Fire-Caused snags in Ocala Sand Pine. In: Proceedings of Fire Conference 200, N.G. Sugihara, 50-54
Keywordscoarse woody debris, ecosystem management, fire in ecosystem management, Florida, Ocala National Forest, Pinus clausa, sand pine, snags
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