Skip to Main Content
Overstory-derived surface fuels mediate plant species diversity in frequently burned longleaf pine forestsAuthor(s): Jane E. Dell; Lora A. Richards; Joseph J. O’Brien; E. Louise Loudermilk; Andrew T. Hudak; Scott M. Pokswinski; Benjamin C. Bright; J. Kevin Hiers; Brett W. Williams; Lee A. Dyer
Source: Ecosphere. 8(10): e01964.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
View PDF (1.0 MB)
DescriptionFrequently burned low-latitude coniferous forests maintain a high-diversity understory. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) forests and woodlands have exceptionally high diversity at fine scales and very frequent fire return intervals (1–3 yr). Furthermore, the positive association between high-frequency, low-intensity surface fires and high species richness in longleaf pine ecosystems is well documented but poorly understood. Recent studies have demonstrated additional linkages between specific fuel assemblages and fire intensity at small spatial scales. In this study, we build upon both patterns by using long-term datasets to examine the relationship between fire and specific fuel types, and how the combination of these two elements contributes to ground cover species diversity.We used 11 yr of monitoring data from longleaf pine forests at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (USA), to parameterize a structural equation model that examines causal relationships between fuels and fire history on ground cover plant diversity. Overstory-derived fuels, including pine needle litter, pine cones, and other 10 and 100-h woody fuels, had the greatest positive impact on diversity in relatively open-canopied, frequently burned reference stands. A second model examined surface fuel components originating from the forest overstory as characterized by airborne light detection and ranging and found that pine needle litter was positively associated with canopy density. Our parameter estimates for causal relationships between easily measured variables and plant diversity will allow for the development of management models at the stand scale while being informed by fuels measured at the plot scale.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- 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.
CitationDell, Jane E.; Richards, Lora A.; O’Brien, Joseph J.; Loudermilk, E. Louise; Hudak, Andrew T.; Pokswinski, Scott M.; Bright, Benjamin C.; Hiers, J. Kevin; Williams, Brett W.; Dyer, Lee A. 2017. Overstory-derived surface fuels mediate plant species diversity in frequently burned longleaf pine forests. Ecosphere. 8(10): e01964.
Keywordslight detection and ranging (LiDAR), overstory-derived fuels, Pinus palustris, prescribed fire, species richness, structural equation model
- Fuel loading and fire intensity-effects on longleaf pine seedling survival
- Competitive responses of seedlings and understory plants in longleaf pine woodlands: separating canopy influences above and below ground
- Application of ground-based LIDAR for fine-scale forest fuel modeling
XML: View XML