Print Friendly and PDF


Advanced Search Results Detail

Project ID: 15-1-07-20

Year: 2015

Date Started: 09/15/2015

Ending Date:  08/30/2018

Title: Feedbacks between fuels, fire behavior, and vegetation: fire severity alters successional pathways during oak forest restoration

Project Proposal Abstract: In eastern oak forests, changing disturbance regimes have altered forest structure and composition, favoring the proliferation of shade-tolerant species, and thus altering successional pathways. The restoration of open-structured, diverse, and sustainable oak forests is a widespread management goal, and prescribed fire is becoming an important tool. Research has shown that multiple fires are more likely to sustain oak forests, by increasing the competitive position of oak reproduction. However, longer-term experimental studies (15+) of multiple fires in Appalachian oak forests are lacking. In 2000, a replicate of the national Fire and Fire Surrogates (FFS) study was installed in southern Ohio to test the effectiveness of thinning, a single fire, thinning + fire in restoring oak forests to a more open and sustainable condition. Initial results, four years posttreatment (2004), showed that oak reproduction had not been improved on any active treatment, though plant diversity was increased after the single low-intensity fire. Fire effects on fuels were minimal. All three FFS study sites in Ohio have been maintained, and a 2nd and 3rd prescribed fire was applied to all the burn and thin+burn units in 2005 and 2010. These latter fires ranged from low to high intensity, creating highly variable forest structures across the landscape. Fire intensity has been greatest on drier and steeper slopes revealing a strong interaction between fire and topography and a potential feedback between vegetation, fuels and fire behavior. We propose to re-measure the vegetation and fuels on the Ohio FFS sites in association with a 4th prescribed fire (2016), providing unprecedented long-term information on how oak forests respond to multiple fires of varying intensity. We will test a range of hypotheses in the areas of 1) successional pathways of forests, inferred from tree regeneration, 2) diversity of ground-layer vegetation, and 3) fuel loading and fire behavior. We will compare the long-term effects of treatments (no treatment, thinning, multiple burns, and thinning + multiple burns) on vegetation and fuels. In addition, within the burn units, we will examine the effects of fire intensity on vegetation and fuels. This study will provide a better understanding of how topography, vegetation, and fuels interact in a regime of periodic fire, to produce different successional pathways and restoration outcomes in eastern oak forests. Vegetation and fuels will be re-measured in 2016 and 2017, before and after the 4th prescribed fire is applied in spring 2016. We will sample all of the vegetation plots (n = 120) and fuels gridpoints (n = 432) that were originally sampled in 2000 (before treatments), 2001, and 2004; the short-term effects of treatments on vegetation and fuels were published in peer-reviewed papers. We will use generalized linear mixed models with repeated measures to examine treatment effects on key variables such as the density of large oak reproduction, the richness of ground-layer vegetation, and loadings of fine and coarse fuels. For these same response variables we propose to use a regression tree approach to examine the effects of topography and fire intensity within the burn units. Our research team has a proven track record of technology transfer to land managers and we propose a series of products and events that will highlight the results this long-term study.

Principal Investigator: Todd F. Hutchinson

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: NRS-Northern Research Station


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

David Garrison

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Budget Contact

Terry R. Gross

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Matthew B. Dickinson

Forest Service

NRS-Forest Health-Sustaining Forests

Co-Principal Investigator

Joanne X. Rebbeck

Forest Service

NRS-Forest Health-Sustaining Forests

Collaborator/Contributor

Louis R. Iverson

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Collaborator/Contributor

Brian C. McCarthy

Ohio University

Department of Environmental & Plant Biology

Collaborator/Contributor

Daniel A. Yaussy

Forest Service

NRS-Forest Health-Sustaining Forests


Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Appalachian

Oak Woodlands


Level

State

Agency

Unit

STATE

OH

STATE

State Lands


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

Convert PDF documents to an html document using Adobe's online conversion tool.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader