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Fire Frequency Effects on Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris P. Miller) Vegetation in South Carolina and Northeast Florida, USAAuthor(s): Jeff S. Glitzenstein; Donna R. Streng; Dale D. Wade
Source: Natural Areas Journal. 23 (1): 22-37. 2003.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionSoutheastern United States habitats dominated by longleaf pine (Pinus pulutris P. Miller) have declined precipitously in area and extent. Conservation of diverse ground-layer vegetation in these endangered habitats depends on prescribed fire. While the need for prescribed fire is now generally accepted, there is disagreement concerning the most appropriate fire regime. One of the more important variables is frequency of fire. Several hypothetical relationships between fire frequency and vascular plant richness and composition are suggested by the existing literature. Results of two long-term prescribed fire studies support the hypothesis that burning as frequently as fuels permit is optimal for maintaining the largest number of native ground-layer plant species. However, fire frequency effects on species composition differed between the two studies. Increasing fire frequency in South Carolina Ultisol flatwoods and wet savannas was associated with a distinct shift from woody to herbaceous-dominated communities. Herbs, particularly bunchgrasses and perennial forbs, dominated annual- and biennial-bum treatment plots, whereas triennial- and quadrennial-bum plots were shrub-dominated. In contrast, annual and biennial fires did not produce herbaceous dominated ground-layer vegetation in North Florida Spodosol flatwoods. Reduced dominance of saw palmetto and somewhat increased importance of forbs and grasses, particularly rhizomatous grasses, distinguished the annually burned plots. However, biennial- and quadrennial-bum plots were similar in composition and did not differ significantly in species richness at the largest spatial scale.
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CitationGlitzenstein, Jeff S.; Streng, Donna R.; Wade, Dale D. 2003. Fire Frequency Effects on Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris P. Miller) Vegetation in South Carolina and Northeast Florida, USA. Natural Areas Journal. 23 (1): 22-37. 2003.
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