The well-documented decline of the Pinus palustris ecosystem has resulted from several anthropogenic influences, such as forest clearing (e.g. pine plantation forestry, agriculture) and urban development, both of which are closely related to increases in human populations. Other impacts have arisen from alterations in disturbance regimes responsible for maintaining the structure and function of these ecosystems. Restoration and management of degraded pine savanna ecosystems is critical. Identification of ecological processes that determine the structure and function of the intact system are important because successful restoration efforts should be based on sound scientific understanding. In this paper, we introduce this special issue on the ecology, conservation, and restoration of the Pinus palustris ecosystem. Some global climate change scenarios have suggested that future changes may occur that alter frequency and severity of disturbances such as fires and hurricanes. Such changes may have large effects on pine stands, and ultimately entire Pinus palustris savanna ecosystems, thus presenting further challenges to their sustainable management.
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