Age and size comparisons of regenerating shortleaf pine seedlings burned multiple times in ecosysten restoration areasThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.) ecosystem restoration has been a major management goal in the Ouachita National Forest since the early to mid-1990s. Restoration efforts have focused on periodic prescribed burning and thinning operations to restore disturbance dependent vegetation communities suitable for the recovery of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, as well as other species able to utilize open forests and woodlands. Questions exist about how frequent burning will affect recruitment of shortleaf pine regeneration into larger age and size classes. Determining shortleaf pine’s sprouting capabilities in response to repeated periodic prescribed burns could aid managers in recruitment of new age classes, while still promoting fire-dependent vegetation communities. The three stands in this study have undergone restoration activities for the past 6 to 12 years. The objectives of this study were: (1) to compare shortleaf pine root and shoot age, weight, and volume values, as well as root diameter, basal diameter, sprout height growth, live foliage weight, regeneration densities, and sprout production parameters in three analogous stands, and (2) develop regression equations for predicting sprout height following a burn from seedling root characteristics. Root ages were older than stem ages, and there were statistical differences in root ages indicating that the majority of seedlings and saplings regenerated following the same event. Seedlings and saplings in the stand that had been burned fewer times with a lower overstory basal area were characterized by larger morphological characteristics than seedlings in stands with greater burn frequencies for most variables.