Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service
  
Treesearch

Research & Development Treesearch

 
Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Northern
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help
 

GeoTreesearch


Science.gov - We Participate


USA.gov  Government Made Easy


Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.
20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

(444 KB bytes)

Title: Effects of Understory Burning in a Mesic Mixed-Oak Forest of the Southern Appalachians

Author: Elliott, Katherine J.; Vose, James M.; Clinton, Barton D.; Knoepp, Jennifer D.

Date: 2004

Source: Pages 272-­283 in R.T. Engstrom, K.E.M. Galley, and W.J. de Groot (eds.). Proceedings of the 22nd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Temperate, Boreal, and Montane Ecosystems. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Information is lacking on ecosystem effects of understory burning in mesic mixed-oak (Quercus spp.) forests of the southern Appalachians. Native Americans used periodic fires in these forests for driving game and opening the forest. In April 1998, we conducted a low- to moderate-intensity fire in a cove­hardwood forest in the Nantahala National Forest, western North Carolina. In March 1998, before burning, permanent plots were established along three parallel transects to measure forest floor mass, carbon (C), and nitrogen (N); soil nutrient (NO-3, NH+4, PO-4­, Ca, Mg, and K) availability; and vegetation mortality and regeneration. Forest floor material was sampled by components: small wood, litter (Oi), and a combined fermentation and humus component (Oe + Oa). Soil nutrient availability was estimated using cation and anion exchange membrane sheets. Vegetation measurements included the overstory and understory layers. All parameters were resampled during summer 1998 and 1999 in the same manner as the pre-burn inventories. Burning reduced the total mass, carbon, and nitrogen of the Oi layer by 92%, 93%, and 91%, respectively. Reductions in mass, carbon, and nitrogen of the Oe + Oa layer were 48%, 46%, and 56%, respectively. Burning resulted in increased exchangeable K, Ca, Mg, NH4, PO4, and NO3 availability in soil on the burned area compared with the control. One year after burning, there were no significant differences in exchangeable nutrients between the burned and the control area. Overstory mortality was substantial, with 55% of the trees killed by the fire. However, most of the mortality occurred in trees <10 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) and no trees >20 cm DBH were killed. In the understory, all the aboveground stems were killed; although 50% of these individuals sprouted during the growing season (July 1998), some of these sprouts did not survive through the following year (July 1999). Moderate-intensity understory burning may be a useful tool to restore mesic mixed-oak communities in the southern Appalachians. Reintroduction of fire into these ecosystems may be beneficial by increasing soil nutrient availability, promoting regeneration and survival of Quercus spp., increasing diversity of understory species, and reducing abundance of shade-tolerant and fire-intolerant species such as Acer rubrum.

Keywords: ecosystem analysis, forest floor, North Carolina, prescribed fire, population dynamics, soil nutrients, southern Appalachians

Publication Notes:

  • 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.
  • You may send email to pubrequest@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

XML: View XML

Citation:


Elliott, Katherine J.; Vose, James M.; Clinton, Barton D.; Knoepp, Jennifer D. 2004. Effects of Understory Burning in a Mesic Mixed-Oak Forest of the Southern Appalachians. Pages 272-­283 in R.T. Engstrom, K.E.M. Galley, and W.J. de Groot (eds.). Proceedings of the 22nd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Temperate, Boreal, and Montane Ecosystems. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.

 


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.