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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Zimmerman, Michael L. [1], McDowell, Timothy D. [1].

Effects of Prescribed Burns on Herbaceous Vegetation in the Southern Appalachian Forests.

Prescribed burns have become a common management practice in the Southern Appalachian forests, with over 20,000 acres burned each year in the Cherokee National Forest alone. Although the effects of fire have received much study in various ecosystems (e.g. coastal pine forests, midwestern prairie ecosystems), research on prescribed has seldom examined the southern Appalachian's mesic hardwood forests. We examined the effects of prescribed fire on the herbaceous layer in the Cherokee National Forest of east Tennessee. Six previously burned sites (two to five years after burns) were compared with six nearby unburned sites of similar physical and vegetational characteristics. Using line-point transects, we sampled for total number of species, number of herbaceous species, and number of individuals by species. Following prescribed fires there were significant reductions in the number of herbaceous species and individuals. Species with ant-dispersed seeds were markedly reduced on burned sites. Physical characteristics of the surface layer were also altered on burned sites. Despite considerable variation among sites, the negative impact of fire on forest herbs was clearly evident. Other studies have shown reductions in leaf litter fauna following prescribed burns in mesic hardwood forests. The use of prescribed burns in southern Appalachian moist forests is inappropriate for management of these highly diverse ecosystems.

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1 - East Tennessee State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Box 70703, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, 37614, USA

prescribed burn
forest management
herbaceous plants

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: CP44
Location: Boulevard A/Hilton
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Time: 8:15 AM
Number: CP44002
Abstract ID:1520

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