Fire on the Mountain
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SubjectScholarship Sewanee 2011; University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee; Undergraduate research; Prescribed fire; Oak seedlings; Oak density
AbstractIn 2010, prescribed fire was used following tree thinning at two sites on the Domain in an effort to promote oak regeneration. In compartment 46, fire was applied to the site in April and May 2010 and post-treatment seedling cover was estimated in the fall of 2010 in twenty permanent plots. Six months after thinning and prescribed fire, sassafras, oak, and pine seedling cover dominated the plots at 28%, 17%, and 12% cover, respectively. Thinning and prescribed fire increased oak seedling densities from 4000 to 8400 seedlings per acre. In terms of non-tree cover at Compartment 46, Vaccinium and native grasses dominated at 30% and 7%, respectively. At Compartment 6, which was thinned in 2006, three ½-1 acre openings were burned in April 2010, and tree seedling densities were estimated in the fall of 2010 at 18 permanent points. Of all tree species present on the site, oak (5 species) were present at the highest densities (10,600 per acre), and oak densities have increased compared to a 2009 inventory of the same plots. Although the combined use of tree thinning and fire has increased oak seedling densities at both compartments, the future use of fire at both sites will likely be required to maintain high oak seedlings densities for the next several years.
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