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Project ID: 01-3-3-14

Year: 2001

Date Started: 09/19/2001

Date Completed: 08/26/2005

Title: Fire and Oak Regeneration in the Southern Appalachians

Project Proposal Abstract: Throughout the Southern Appalachian region and beyond, the documented failure of oak forests to regenerate themselves has been attributed, at least in part, to the lack of fire in the last half century. Managers responsible for maintaining the diversity of Southern Appalachian forests are increasingly turning to prescribed fire as the management tool of choice in oak dominated forests. The decision to use fire with increasing frequency and spatial extent is based, in part, on an emerging sense of the prehistoric significance of fire in this landscape, and its potential to control the proliferation of fire- sensitive competitors of oak in contemporary forests, While it is well documented that fire has been an important ecological force in Southern Appalachian forests for a very long time, there is a lack of convincing data showing that prescribed fire effectively promotes oak regeneration. This proposal addresses this knowledge gap by developing studies that test whether or not fire (frequent or infrequent), can modify stand structure sufficiently to increase the competitive ability of oak seedlings. We propose to characterize the spatial variability in light regime created by single and repeated fire, quanti the response of individual seedlings using large seedling population studies, and quantify seedling recruitment in response to fire management. Using data from this study and oak regeneration prediction models, we will examine the consequences to oak regeneration of the prescribed burning treatments. In addition to this research need, we have identified an important gap in communication and collaboration among researchers and managers. Thus, the technology transfer component of this proposal identifies four strategies for formalizing opportunities for increased communication and dissemination of research results.

Principal Investigator: Mary A. Arthur

Agency/Organization: University of Kentucky

Branch or Dept: Department of Forestry

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Rex Mann

Forest Service

Daniel Boone National Forest


Jeffrey F. Lewis

Forest Service

Daniel Boone NF-Cumberland Ranger District


J. D. Manner

Forest Service

Daniel Boone NF-Cumberland Ranger District


David Mertz

Forest Service

Kaibab National Forest


Joy K. Richardson

Forest Service

Huron-Manistee National Forest

Federal Cooperator

David Loftis

Forest Service

SRS-Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Oak Woodlands


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   921 Government Publication Prescribed Fire An Ancient Practice for Today’s Forests
    926 Government Publication Landscape Scale Study Results
    2342 Journal Article Existing Seedling Population Study
    3251 Journal Article The Effect of Prescribed Fire on Gap Fraction in an Oak Forest on the Cumberland Plateau
view or print   259 MS Thesis The Effects of Landscape Scale Prescribed Fire on Fuel Loading and Tree Health in an Appalachian Hardwood Forest, Kentucky (E. Loucks)
view or print   260 MS Thesis The Effects of Prescribed Fire on Stand Structure, Canopy Cover and Seedling Populations in Oak Dominated Forests on the Cumberland Plateau, KY (S. Green)

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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