Longleaf pine forests once dominated the southeastern Coastal Plain, but only 3% of this forest type remains today. Restoring longleaf pine forests is an important regional management goal. Two ways land managers restore the ecology of this forest type are by planting longleaf pine seedlings and prescribed burning to simulate natural fire regimes.
A new University of Florida study found that longleaf pine seedlings are highly resistant and resilient to fire. This study used a prescribed burn simulator to create fires of varying fire intensity (temperature) during each of the four seasons. For winter, fall, and spring burns, fire intensity did not affect longleaf pine seedling survival or growth. For summer burns, seedling survival was low after high intensity burns.
“The management implications are that longleaf pine seedlings can be burned anytime of the year as long as summertime burns occur on lands that are burned at a two-to-three-year interval,” said Daniel Brethauer, the study’s lead author.
The study was completed as part of Brethauer’s research for his Master of Science degree in forest resources and conservation from the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences (SFFGS). Brethauer completed both his master’s and undergraduate studies at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, Florida.
Brethauer co-authored the study with his advisor, Ajay Sharma and Jason Vogel, both SFFGS faculty and members of ProForest, a multi-institutional collaboration based at UF that has research, extension, and education programs focused on forest health and resilience; as well as Deborah Miller, a professor in the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, and Edzard van Santen, a professor in the Agronomy Department.