Fire Ecology Program

Tree-ring Research

In 2016, the Southeastern Coastal Plain Tree-Ring Laboratory was formed as a collaboration between the Fire Ecology Program and Tall Timbers Research Associate Dr. Jean Huffman. We are using tree-ring science, or “dendrochronology,” to learn about historical fire regimes in fire-dependent pine communities of Florida and Georgia by identifying and dating fire scars in dead tree sections.

Current projects include reconstructing the fire history the Red Hills Region, the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, and Tyndall Air Force Base. At the latter two study areas, our fire history so far extends back into the 1600s. We are also improving estimates of the season of burn of fire scars by comparing the location of the scar within the ring to the seasonal growth of trees, as well as linking fire scars to prescribed fires with known dates.

Monica Rother slices sections from a scarred piece of longleaf pine.

A fire-scarred section of longleaf pine with abundant fire scars.

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A fire-scarred pieces of longleaf pine with scars identified by arrows.

Kevin Robertson and Jean Huffman work to collect a longleaf stump.

Publications

Rother, M.T., Huffman, J.M., Harley, G.H., Platt, W.J., Jones, N., Robertson, K.M., and Orzell, S.L. (Accepted with minor revisions). Determining Seasonality of Historical Fires in Coastal Plain Pine Savannas. Fire Ecology.

Huffman, J.M. and Rother, M.T. (2017). Dendrochronological field methods for fire history in pine ecosystems of the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Tree-Ring Research 73(1): 42–46.

Huffman, J. M., (2006). Historical fire regimes in southeastern pine savannas. Ph.D. dissertation, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Huffman, J. M., W. J. Platt, H. D. Grissino Mayer, and C. J. Boyce, (2004). Fire history of a barrier island slash pine (Pinus elliottii) savanna. Natural Areas Journal 24(3):258–268.

Huffman, J.M. and Platt, W.J. (2014). Fire History of the Avon Park Air Force Range: Evidence from Treerings. Research Report.