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Project ID: 16-1-06-12

Year: 2016

Date Started: 07/01/2016

Ending Date:  06/30/2019

Title: Community and ecosystem-level effects of growing v. dormant season burning in the southern Appalachians

Project Proposal Abstract: Harboring more than 2500 species of flowering plants, 140 species of trees, 400 species of mosses, and myriad vertebrate and invertebrate species, the southern Appalachian region is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth. The reason for such incredible diversity is the complex topography, which produces a range of microsite and soil conditions  from fertile and moist to dry and rocky  all within close proximity. In this highly heterogeneous environment, plant communities stratify along moisture and elevation gradients, with plant community structure historically reinforced by frequent fire. Millions of acres of forest land in the southern Appalachian region are under some sort of state or federal protection, making it the part of the largest complex of public lands in the eastern United States. Land managers in the region face many challenges, many of which are related to the degradation and homogenization of plant communities due to decades of fire exclusion. Prescribed fire programs became more widespread in the late 1980s to early 1990s, as many scientists and managers became concerned about reductions in oak/hickory regeneration, the encroachment of fire-sensitive (sometimes exotic) plant species, the loss of fire-dependent species (e.g. Table Mountain pine [Pinus pungens]) and dangerous levels of fuel accumulation in a rapidly expanding wildland-urban interface. A related concern is the mesophication that results when open woodland-type forests are converted to closed-canopy forests that become a challenge to burn. Since fire-related research is relatively new in the region, fire managers lack the knowledge to effectively manage these novel plant communities. It is becoming apparent, however, that fuels and restoration-related objectives are not achievable solely via periodic dormant season fires. we propose a study in the southern Appalachians that compares dormant and growing season burns with respect to fuel conditions and weather conditions on the day of the burn, fuel consumption (including litter and duff), shrub mortality/resprout vigor, oak regeneration and post-fire herbaceous community response.

Principal Investigator: Donald L. Hagan

Agency/Organization: Clemson University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forestry & Natural Resources


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Jessica E. Adkins

Clemson University

Grant Support Services

Budget Contact

Gina P. Cofield

Clemson University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Joseph V. McHugh

University of Georgia

College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Co-Principal Investigator

Michael D. Ulyshen

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station


Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Appalachian


Level

State

Agency

Unit

REGIONAL

Southeast

FS


Project Deliverables

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

Supporting Documents

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