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History of fire in eastern oak forests and implications for restorationAuthor(s): Justin L. Hart; Megan L. Buchanan
Source: In: Dey, Daniel C.; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Clark, Stacy L.; Schweitzer, Callie J., eds. Proceedings of the 4th fire in eastern oak forests conference; 2011 May 17-19; Springfield, MO. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-102. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 34-51.
Publication Series: Proceedings - Paper (PR-P)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (1.37 MB)
DescriptionOur understanding of long-term fire history in the eastern United States is derived from the interpretation of a variety of archives. While cultural records are available for some sites, biological archives are most frequently used to reconstruct long-term historical fire regimes. The three most commonly used biological archives in eastern oak forests include: the relative abundance of micro- and macroscopic charcoal found in lake and wetland sediment cores, charcoal macrofossils recovered from mineral soil, and dated fire scars on tree cross-sections. Quantitative data from these biological records are essential to fully elucidate the relationships between fire and oak forest dynamics. In addition to providing a basis for the development and refinement of ecological theory, these data have practical utility as they can be used in restoration planning to set desired future conditions and establish silvicultural treatments that maintain oak dominance or mimic historical disturbance regimes. Here we review the three biological archives most commonly used to reconstruct historical fire regimes in the Central Hardwood Forest Region, synthesize results of investigations that have relied upon these techniques, and discuss the implications of these findings for restoration efforts. At present, ca. 100 fire reconstructions have been developed from fire scarred trees and soil and sedimentary charcoal in the region. Results from the reviewed published studies reveal that fire histories are site specific. Therefore, managers focused on ecological restoration are best advised to construct a place-based history rather than rely solely on results from other studies to set restoration targets and monitor treatment success.
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CitationHart, Justin L.; Buchanan, Megan L. 2012. History of fire in eastern oak forests and implications for restoration. In: Dey, Daniel C.; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Clark, Stacy L.; Schweitzer, Callie J., eds. Proceedings of the 4th fire in eastern oak forests conference; 2011 May 17-19; Springfield, MO. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-102. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 34-51.
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