Texas A&M University
Funded by the JFSP,
with additional support provided by:
yellow pine stands, which are dominated by Table Mountain pine (Pinus
pungens Lamb.) and pitch pine (P.
rigida Mill.), typically occupy xeric sites.
Regeneration and maintenance of the pines appear to require
repeated surface fire, and occasional stand-initiating fires of
greater severity. Fire
exclusion appears to be preventing the establishment and
maintenance of pines. Table
Mountain pine, an Appalachian endemic, may largely disappear over
time in the continued absence of burning.
Deterioration of Appalachian pine stands has stimulated
interest in the use of prescribed burning, both to regenerate
pines and to reduce hazardous fuel loads, but little research on
Appalachian fire regimes is available to guide fire-restoration.
research investigates the fire history, age structure, and
successional dynamics of yellow pine stands in the Central
Appalachian Mountains, which encompass parts of the Blue Ridge,
Ridge and Valley, and Appalachian Plateaus.
We've conducted our work primarily on the George Washington
and Jefferson National Forests.
Our methods rely heavily on dendrochronological techniques
to date fire scars found in Table Mountain pine logs and use this
information to assess the frequency, seasonality, spatial extent,
and climatic relations of past fires.
Age structure analyses have helped reveal whether pulses of
regeneration have occurred, whether the pulses were associated
with fire, and whether pine stands are being maintained. We eventually will incorporate our findings into an
individual-based forest gap model to evaluate hypotheses about
disturbance regimes under which the pine stands developed and to
predict likely consequences of reintroducing fire.
envision that the results of our study will help fill local
knowledge gaps significant to fire management plan development and
implementation (Task 3, JFSP RFP 2001-3).
We anticipate this information being used by land managers
in developing guidelines and policies consistent with restoration
of fire as an ecosystem process.