JDJCSET | Sigma Xi Poster Competition

Title

Relationship of fire fuels at a specific point given the location of trees in a longleaf pine ecosystem

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Wildlife and Conservation Biology/Conservation Education

Minor

N/A

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Paul Gagnon, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

ABSTRACT Some ecosystems depend on fire. One is the longleaf pine ecosystem, where virtually all plants are fire tolerant. Most plants in this ecosystem and the pine needles and cones that fall to the ground from pine trees are flammable fuels. How the spatial arrangement of pine trees influence the fuels on the ground has not been studied. The goal of this project is a better understanding of the relationship between trees and flammable fuels. We explored this relationship between fuels biomass and location of trees through a series of different mathematical functions. We used two burn units at Camp Whispering Pines in Southeast Louisiana, each containing 24 plots, from which we located all adult longleaf pine trees within 10m of every plot. In each plot we collected fire fuels and sorted these into 5 categories: pine needles, pine cones, woody shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants. We evaluated multiple mathematical functions and found the one that best described the relationship between tree location and fuels on the ground. This function showed a positive relationship between tree proximity and pine needles, pine cones, and woody shrubs, and a negative relationship to grasses and herbaceous fuels. Our results describe a significant relationship between fire fuels and the spatial arrangement of trees. A better understanding of this relationship can help to predict fire behavior, which will make for improved fire management.

KEY WORDS Camp Whispering Pines, fire fuels, Louisiana, longleaf pine ecosystem

Affiliations

Sigma Xi Poster Competition--ONLY

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Relationship of fire fuels at a specific point given the location of trees in a longleaf pine ecosystem

ABSTRACT Some ecosystems depend on fire. One is the longleaf pine ecosystem, where virtually all plants are fire tolerant. Most plants in this ecosystem and the pine needles and cones that fall to the ground from pine trees are flammable fuels. How the spatial arrangement of pine trees influence the fuels on the ground has not been studied. The goal of this project is a better understanding of the relationship between trees and flammable fuels. We explored this relationship between fuels biomass and location of trees through a series of different mathematical functions. We used two burn units at Camp Whispering Pines in Southeast Louisiana, each containing 24 plots, from which we located all adult longleaf pine trees within 10m of every plot. In each plot we collected fire fuels and sorted these into 5 categories: pine needles, pine cones, woody shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants. We evaluated multiple mathematical functions and found the one that best described the relationship between tree location and fuels on the ground. This function showed a positive relationship between tree proximity and pine needles, pine cones, and woody shrubs, and a negative relationship to grasses and herbaceous fuels. Our results describe a significant relationship between fire fuels and the spatial arrangement of trees. A better understanding of this relationship can help to predict fire behavior, which will make for improved fire management.

KEY WORDS Camp Whispering Pines, fire fuels, Louisiana, longleaf pine ecosystem