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Open AccessCase Report

Tree Mortality Following Mixed-Severity Prescribed Fire Dramatically Alters the Structure of a Developing Pinus taeda Forest on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain

The Nature Conservancy, MD/DC Chapter, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
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Received: 28 March 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
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Abstract

This case study documents the aftermath of a mixed-severity prescribed fire conducted during the growing season in a young loblolly pine forest. The specific management objective involved killing a substantial proportion of the overstory trees and creating an open-canopy habitat. The burn generated canopy openings across 26% of the 25-ha burn block, substantially altering the horizontal structure. Mortality of pines was high and stems throughout the size distribution were impacted; stem density was reduced by 60% and basal area and aboveground biomass (AGB) by ~30% at the end of the first growing season. A nonlinear regression model fit to plot data portrays a positive relationship between high stocking (i.e., relative density > 0.60) and postburn mortality. Survival of individual trees was reliably modeled with logistic regression, including variables describing the relative reduction in the size of tree crowns following the burn. Total AGB recovered rapidly, on average exceeding levels at the time of the burn by 23% after six growing seasons. Intentional mixed-severity burning effectively created persistent canopy openings in a young fire-tolerant precommercial-sized pine forest, meeting our objectives of structural alteration for habitat restoration. View Full-Text
Keywords: mixed-severity fire; prescribed burn; stand structure; woodland; loblolly pine; restoration; open canopy; relative density mixed-severity fire; prescribed burn; stand structure; woodland; loblolly pine; restoration; open canopy; relative density
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Ray, D.G.; Landau, D. Tree Mortality Following Mixed-Severity Prescribed Fire Dramatically Alters the Structure of a Developing Pinus taeda Forest on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. Fire 2019, 2, 25.

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