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Title: The effects of precommercial thinning and midstory-control on the flora and fauna of young longleaf pine plantations.

Abstract

I examined the effects of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) restoration using plantation silviculture on the avian, small mammal, and herpetofauna communities on the Savannah River Site, a National Environmental Research Park near Aiken, South Carolina. Vertebrate populations were surveyed from 1995 through 2003 on a series of plantations that had been precommercially thinned and/or received midstory-control via herbicides between 1994 and 1996. Understory and overstory vegetation was surveyed from 1994 through 2004. Thinning and midstory vegetation reduction treatments had greater herbaceous cover than the control through 2004 after a 1-2 year decline on midstory-control plots. Initially, thinned plots had the greatest herbaceous cover. However from 1998 through 2004, the combined treatment had the most herbaceous cover. Without midstory-control, thinning released midstory hardwoods. The effect of thinning or midstory-control alone on bird abundance was positive but short-lived. The positive effects were larger and persisted longer on combined treatment plots. My results indicate that precommercial thinning longleaf plantations, particularly when combined with midstory-control and prescribed fire, had a modest beneficial impact on avian communities by developing stand conditions more typical of natural longleaf stands maintained by periodic fire. All treatments resulted in short-term increases in small mammal abundance, but effects were minimalmore » by 5-7 years after treatment. By 2001, pine basal area had returned to pre-treatment levels on thinned plots suggesting that frequent thinning may be required to maintain abundant and diverse small mammal communities in longleaf pine plantations. I did not detect any treatment related differences in herpetofauna abundance. These results suggest that restoring longleaf with a combination of precommercial thinning, midstory-control with herbicides, and prescribed fire can have a short-term positive effect on the avian and small mammal communities without affecting the herpetofauna community. However, periodic thinnings may be necessary to extend the positive effects.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
USDA Forest Service, Savannah River, New Ellenton, SC.
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE - Office of Environmental Management (EM)
OSTI Identifier:
909326
Report Number(s):
na
07-03-D; TRN: US201103%%63
DOE Contract Number:
AI09-00SR22188
Resource Type:
Other
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; ABUNDANCE; BIRDS; COMMUNITIES; HERBICIDES; MAMMALS; PINES; PLANTS; SAVANNAH RIVER PLANT; SILVICULTURE; SOUTH CAROLINA; VERTEBRATES; Accord®, Amphibian, Arsenal®; Avian; Breeding bird; Garlon®; Herbicide; Herpetofauna; Longleaf pine; Pinus palustris; Precommercial thinning; Prescribed fire; Reptile; Restoration; Savannah River Site; Small mammal; South Carolina; Velpar®

Citation Formats

Simmons, Robert. The effects of precommercial thinning and midstory-control on the flora and fauna of young longleaf pine plantations.. United States: N. p., 2007. Web.
Simmons, Robert. The effects of precommercial thinning and midstory-control on the flora and fauna of young longleaf pine plantations.. United States.
Simmons, Robert. Tue . "The effects of precommercial thinning and midstory-control on the flora and fauna of young longleaf pine plantations.". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_909326,
title = {The effects of precommercial thinning and midstory-control on the flora and fauna of young longleaf pine plantations.},
author = {Simmons, Robert.},
abstractNote = {I examined the effects of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) restoration using plantation silviculture on the avian, small mammal, and herpetofauna communities on the Savannah River Site, a National Environmental Research Park near Aiken, South Carolina. Vertebrate populations were surveyed from 1995 through 2003 on a series of plantations that had been precommercially thinned and/or received midstory-control via herbicides between 1994 and 1996. Understory and overstory vegetation was surveyed from 1994 through 2004. Thinning and midstory vegetation reduction treatments had greater herbaceous cover than the control through 2004 after a 1-2 year decline on midstory-control plots. Initially, thinned plots had the greatest herbaceous cover. However from 1998 through 2004, the combined treatment had the most herbaceous cover. Without midstory-control, thinning released midstory hardwoods. The effect of thinning or midstory-control alone on bird abundance was positive but short-lived. The positive effects were larger and persisted longer on combined treatment plots. My results indicate that precommercial thinning longleaf plantations, particularly when combined with midstory-control and prescribed fire, had a modest beneficial impact on avian communities by developing stand conditions more typical of natural longleaf stands maintained by periodic fire. All treatments resulted in short-term increases in small mammal abundance, but effects were minimal by 5-7 years after treatment. By 2001, pine basal area had returned to pre-treatment levels on thinned plots suggesting that frequent thinning may be required to maintain abundant and diverse small mammal communities in longleaf pine plantations. I did not detect any treatment related differences in herpetofauna abundance. These results suggest that restoring longleaf with a combination of precommercial thinning, midstory-control with herbicides, and prescribed fire can have a short-term positive effect on the avian and small mammal communities without affecting the herpetofauna community. However, periodic thinnings may be necessary to extend the positive effects.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue May 01 00:00:00 EDT 2007},
month = {Tue May 01 00:00:00 EDT 2007}
}
  • Abstract - Restoring longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) savanna is a goal of many southern land managers, and longleaf plantations may provide a mechanism for savanna restoration. However, the effects of silvicultural treatments used in the management of longleaf pine plantations on wildlife communities are relatively unknown. Beginning in 1994, we examined effects of longleaf pine restoration with plantation silviculture on avian and small mammal communities using four treatments in four 8- to 11- year-old plantations within the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Treatments included prescribed burning every 3 to 5 years, plus: (1) no additional treatment (burn-only control);more » (2) precommercial thinning; (3) non-pine woody control with herbicides; and (4) combined thinning and woody control. We surveyed birds (1996-2003) using 50-m point counts and small mammals with removal trapping. Thinning and woody control alone had short-lived effects on avian communities, and the combination treatment increased avian parameters over the burn-only control in all years. Small mammal abundance showed similar trends as avian abundance for all three treatments when compared with the burn-only control, but only for 2 years post-treatment. Both avian and small mammal communities were temporarily enhanced by controlling woody vegetation with chemicals in addition to prescribed fire and thinning. Therefore, precommercial thinning in longleaf plantations, particularly when combined with woody control and prescribed fire, may benefit early-successional avian and small mammal communities by developing stand conditions more typical of natural longleaf stands maintained by periodic fire.« less
  • To develop silvicultural strategies for restoring longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) savannas, mortality and growth of overstory pines and midstory hardwoods and abundance and species richness of herbs were studied for 14 years after pine thinning and nonpine woody control. Pine cover in thinned stands was about half of that in nonthinned stands through year 5, but it lagged by only 8% and 3% in years 9 and 14, respectively, because of vigorous crown responses. Despite a cumulative mortality of 64% of hardwood stems from prescribed fires in years 0, 4, and 9, hardwood basal area in thinned stands (2.1more » m2/ha) was three times that in nonthinned stands (0.7 m2/ha) in year 14. Thinning was associated with 13%-22% more cover and six to eight more species of herbs in years 3-8 but only 6% more cover and two more species in year 14 because of accelerated growth of pine cover and hardwood basal area. However, similar increases in cover and richness of herb species in the woody control treatment were retained through year 14 because it had sustained reductions in hardwood and shrub abundance. Silvicultural strategies that substantially delay encroachment by pines, hardwoods, and shrubs will be those most effective at retaining herb species in longleaf pine savannas, including planting pines at wide spacing, periodic thinning and woody control, and frequent burning.« less
  • Currently, nearly 98% of the land area once dominated by longleaf pine ecosystems has been converted to other uses. The U.S. Forest Service is replanting logged areas with longleaf pine at the Savannah River Site, New Ellenton, South Carolina, in an effort to restore these ecosystems. To ascertain the effects of various silvicultural management techniques on the vertebrate communities, we surveyed small mammal, herpetofaunal, and avian communities in six 10- to 13-year-old longleaf pine plantations subjected to various thinning and herbicide regimes. Areas within each plantation were randomly assigned one of four treatments: thinning, herbicide spraying, thinning and herbicide, andmore » an untreated control. For all vertebrate groups, abundance and species diversity tended to be less in the controls than treated areas. Birds and small mammals were most abundant and diverse in thinned treatments versus spray only and control. Herpetofauna capture rates were low and, thus, we were unable to detect treatment-related differences. Silvicultural treatments that reduce hardwood stem density and pine basal area can enhance habitat conditions for numerous vertebrate species.« less
  • Research to determine the separate effects of above-ground and below-ground competition and needlefall of over-story pines on under-story plant performance. Periodic monitoring of over-story crown closure, soil water content, temperature, and nutrients were conducted. Results indicate competition for light had a more determental effect on performance of herbaceous species in longleaf pine plantations than that resulting from competition for below-ground resources.
  • Study plots in 33-43 year old longleaf pine plantations were compared to remnant longleaf plots on the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Within these stands, the structure and composition of primarily the herb layer relative to a presumed soil moisture or soil texture gradient was studied using the North Carolina Vegetation Survey methodology. Data were also collected on soils and landform variables. Based on ordination and cluster analyses, both plantation plots and natural stand plots were separated into three distinct site units (xeric, sub-xeric, and sub-mesic). Lack of a major compositional difference between xeric plantation and natural longleaf sitesmore » suggests that restoration of the herbaceous layer may not be as complex as once thought. This provides reasonable encouragement for the restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem.« less