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Research at Tall Timbers

The primary purpose for the founding of Tall Timbers was to conduct “…research on the effects of fire on quail, turkey, and other wildlife, as well as on vegetation of value as cover and food for wildlife, and experiments on controlled burning…” — Henry Beadel Will

Our primary research focus is the ecology and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, and wildlife, including bobwhite quail, in the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Long-term research is one of our hallmarks. As we have discovered, often the dynamic nature of ecosystems is not revealed in a short-term project. While short-term projects help fill in the gaps, the longer-term studies give us the basic knowledge of how ecosystem processes work over many years and under varying weather conditions. We must understand the ecosystem processes in order to make wise recommendations for land management. One of the best contributions we can make to future generations is a legacy on the land that leaves intact, healthy ecosystems as a result of wise land management and stewardship. A number of long-term projects are highlighted on this website.

fermsThe research context at Tall Timbers includes both heavily manipulated systems and natural systems. We have the benefit of being able to conduct research on formerly cultivated lands that are often called ‘old field’ lands, as well as places like the Wade Tract where the ground has never been plowed and the timber never logged. Much of the Southeast Coastal Plain was farmed at one time and the vegetation re-growth is very different than the historical plant community. The natural areas provide a benchmark for restoration studies. Understanding the differences and determining which differences are important to the various species we study helps us make better land management recommendations. We view land management as research. We apply our research to land management in an adaptive management fashion.

rcw-treeWe are engaged in research on all manner of subject matter from landscape and restoration ecology to studies on endangered species such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker and specific species of special concern such as the Gopher Tortoise and Bachman’s Sparrow. Research on understory plant community ecology, forest ecology, and the influence of fire furthers our understanding of habitat needed by the animal community. Fire ecology research helps us understand the nature of fire and its interaction with ecosystems all the better. Fire is the common theme that encompasses every part of our research from carbon sequestration to Northern Bobwhite population dynamics.

More information about specific areas of research may be found via the links to specific programs below: