Shortleaf pine-oak-hickory long-term study begins

The Fire Ecology and Fire Science labs have initiated a new long-term project to track forest community changes in a native shortleaf pine-oak-hickory community on Tall Timbers Research Station. This natural community type, regionally less well known than the longleaf pine-wiregrass community, has an open canopy of shortleaf pine and upland fire-loving hardwood trees such as mockernut hickory, post oak, southern red oak, white oak, and black oak. The main grass species is little bluestem grass instead of wiregrass, but the community shares a lot of native groundcover indicator species with longleaf pine-wiregrass habitats.

The new study site is in the northwestern quarter of Tall Timbers on the Atkinson Course, also known as the Scrub Course or Jones Course. The Fire Science Lab made terrestrial-based LIDAR scans to create a map of apparent tree locations. The Fire Ecology Lab confirmed locations of larger trees in the field, tagged them, and used them to map smaller trees greater than 2 cm diameter at breast height within a 4-hectare (10-acre) area.

Part of the new map of trees for a long-term study of the shortleaf pine-oak-hickory native community at Tall Timbers Research Station.

The trees will be remapped at two-year intervals to gain knowledge about growth and regeneration of trees in this community type, including the effects of fuel loads and fire on tree recruitment. The new knowledge will be valuable since very little is known about this community type in the Red Hills Region and shortleaf pine ecology in general.

Intern Angela Seibert uses a siting compass to map smaller trees. Other interns conducting the mapping this summer were Makayla Timms and Genevieve Printiss. Photo by Genevieve Printiss

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