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Ajay Sharma , John L. Willis
The longleaf pine ecosystem of the southeastern United States is a fire-dependent ecosystem. Fire is essential to its natural regeneration and maintenance of species rich understory and habitat for a variety of wildlife. In the absence of fire, longleaf pine dominated forests are gradually succeeded by hardwood species and the understory loses its species richness. Conversely, the introduction of fire into the long-unburned degraded longleaf pine forests can help restore these ecosystems. Both fire frequency as well as season of burn may affect structure and composition of these forests. For example, winter-burned forests may have higher abundance of shrubby species in the understory compared to summer-burned forests, which may be richer in graminoids. Also, long unburned forests have reduced abundance of longleaf pine in the overstory. At the Escambia Experimental Forest in southeastern United States, we have maintained long-term research plots that have been burned either in summer, winter, or fall on a biannual basis since 1973, along with unburned control plots. These plots distinctly demonstrate the long-term effects of seasonal burning compared to fire exclusion on overstory and understory composition, and are an excellent resource for creating a video aimed at educating researchers, restoration practitioners, students, landowners, and general public. We will create a high-quality, professionally recorded and edited 3- minute video that will provide a virtual field trip to these long-term seasonally burned longleaf pine plots and present some important results from the research. After watching the video, the audience will have improved understanding of the relevance of fire and season of burn in sustaining and/or restoring longleaf pine forests.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program