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1 April 2014 Initial Ecosystem Restoration in the Highly Erodible Kisatchie Sandstone Hills
D. Andrew Scott
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Restoration of the unique and diverse habitats of the Kisatchie Sandstone Hills requires the re-introduction of fire to reduce fuel accumulation and promote herbaceous vegetation, but some soils in the area are extremely erodible, and past fires have resulted in high erosion rates. Overstory and understory vegetation, downed woody fuels, and other stand attributes were measured on sites that received either no management or two prescribed burns after >20 years of fire exclusion. The two burns (one dormant season and one growing season) reduced the live fuel-load (understory biomass) and forest floor (litter and duff mass) by 90 and 71%, respectively, but did not change the downed woody fuel load. Understory plant diversity was not affected by burning, but burning stimulated both colonization and sprouting for most plant species. Habitat for Picoides borealis (Red-cockaded Woodpecker) was improved; understory plant height was reduced by 2 m, and herbaceous vegetation was found in 40% of the areas sampled in the burned sites but it was found in only 6.7% of the reference (unburned) sites. Erosion risk was still elevated due to the sparse vegetative cover on the forest floor. Future management should consider erosion prevention, and plan the timing and intensity of additional burns to maximize plant cover on the forest floor and to improve the habitat by converting the woody understory to an herbaceous understory.

D. Andrew Scott "Initial Ecosystem Restoration in the Highly Erodible Kisatchie Sandstone Hills," Southeastern Naturalist 13(sp5), 64-79, (1 April 2014).
Published: 1 April 2014
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