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Dr. Paul Gagnon

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Event

Abstract/Description

Fire is a dynamic disturbance that once created and maintained the oak savannas and oak forests of the Southeast. These forests are characterized by open structures with herbaceous understories, which provide significant habitat and food for native wildlife species. In the absence of fire, canopies close and fire-intolerant, shade-tolerant species begin to crowd the understory and midstory. This process, known as mesophication, occurs when increasingly cool, damp, and shaded conditions create a less flammable fuel bed and improve conditions for mesophytic species creating deteriorating conditions for shade-intolerant, fire-adapted species such as oaks (Quercus spp.). The use of prescribed fire is increasingly being used as a management tool to combat the changes in forest structure that result from mesophication. We used forest structure data from the overstory, midstory, understory, and forest floor at 20 sites in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) to test for variance among 4 types of forest management. The management types we studied included (1) areas not subject to any prescribed burning or thinning methods, (2) grasslands, (3) areas burned within 6 months of the study, and (4) areas burned more than 6 months prior to our study. We found the least amount of variation among management types in the midstory, and the greatest variation on the forest floor. We also found that areas that had not been burned within 6 months of the study were most similar to unmanaged areas for all forest strata except the overstory. Forest structure data such as this can provide feedback on current management practices and provide a scientific basis for future management decisions.

Location

Barkley Room, Curris Center

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 4:00 PM

Analysis of Forest Structure Among Management Types at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky

Barkley Room, Curris Center

Fire is a dynamic disturbance that once created and maintained the oak savannas and oak forests of the Southeast. These forests are characterized by open structures with herbaceous understories, which provide significant habitat and food for native wildlife species. In the absence of fire, canopies close and fire-intolerant, shade-tolerant species begin to crowd the understory and midstory. This process, known as mesophication, occurs when increasingly cool, damp, and shaded conditions create a less flammable fuel bed and improve conditions for mesophytic species creating deteriorating conditions for shade-intolerant, fire-adapted species such as oaks (Quercus spp.). The use of prescribed fire is increasingly being used as a management tool to combat the changes in forest structure that result from mesophication. We used forest structure data from the overstory, midstory, understory, and forest floor at 20 sites in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) to test for variance among 4 types of forest management. The management types we studied included (1) areas not subject to any prescribed burning or thinning methods, (2) grasslands, (3) areas burned within 6 months of the study, and (4) areas burned more than 6 months prior to our study. We found the least amount of variation among management types in the midstory, and the greatest variation on the forest floor. We also found that areas that had not been burned within 6 months of the study were most similar to unmanaged areas for all forest strata except the overstory. Forest structure data such as this can provide feedback on current management practices and provide a scientific basis for future management decisions.

 

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