Event Title

The Effects of Burn Initiation and Deer Browsing on Understory Species Richness in Montane LongleafPine Ecosystems in Alabama

Location

Science Center A154

Start Date

10-28-2016 2:00 PM

End Date

10-28-2016 3:20 PM

Research Program

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program (NSF)

Abstract

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems require frequent burning to maintain their diverse plant communities. Due to fire suppression in the southeastern United States since European settlement, these ecosystems have shifted towards dominance by hardwoods and other pine species. Fire is an effective tool for restoring the structure and understory species richness of longleaf pine forests. The early response of the understory community to initiation of controlled burns on montane longleaf pine understory species richness is largely unknown. Intense browsing by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) also affects forest understory species richness. The focus of this study was the effects of both fire and deer browsing on montane longleaf pine ecosystems. We found that understory species rarefaction was highest in plots that have experienced more recent and frequent fires. Abiotic factors may have had an effect on understory species richness, as temperature and soil moisture content varied among plots. The frequently burned plots had higher temperatures and higher species richness. Deer browsing pressure was consistent across all plots.

Notes

Session I, Panel 1 - Origins & Evolutions

Major

Environmental Studies; Biology

Project Mentor(s)

Drew Hataway and Malia Fincher, Samford University

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Oct 28th, 2:00 PM Oct 28th, 3:20 PM

The Effects of Burn Initiation and Deer Browsing on Understory Species Richness in Montane LongleafPine Ecosystems in Alabama

Science Center A154

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems require frequent burning to maintain their diverse plant communities. Due to fire suppression in the southeastern United States since European settlement, these ecosystems have shifted towards dominance by hardwoods and other pine species. Fire is an effective tool for restoring the structure and understory species richness of longleaf pine forests. The early response of the understory community to initiation of controlled burns on montane longleaf pine understory species richness is largely unknown. Intense browsing by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) also affects forest understory species richness. The focus of this study was the effects of both fire and deer browsing on montane longleaf pine ecosystems. We found that understory species rarefaction was highest in plots that have experienced more recent and frequent fires. Abiotic factors may have had an effect on understory species richness, as temperature and soil moisture content varied among plots. The frequently burned plots had higher temperatures and higher species richness. Deer browsing pressure was consistent across all plots.