Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Effects of Tornado Damage, Prescribed Fire, and Salvage Logging on Oak (Quercus Spp.) Saplings in Upland Oak Forests in Northern Mississippi

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.S. in Biological Science

First Advisor

J. Stephen Brewer

Second Advisor

Jason Hoeksema

Third Advisor

Marjorie M. Holland

Abstract

After European colonization and extensive logging followed by long periods of fire suppression, oak dominated forests, woodlands, and savannahs are being replaced by an unprecedented forest ecosystem. In Mississippi, these new forest systems are dominated in the mid- and understory by mesophytic species such as red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.). Partial thinning of trees followed by prescribed fire can regenerate oaks in managed timber stands. A severe tornado occurred on a monitored oak stand in northern Mississippi. Of the damaged plots, some were treated with either prescribed fire or salvage logging or were left alone. I examined the effects of these treatments on oak regeneration. Species composition of saplings was measured to assess the impact of tornado damage and the treatments on sapling regeneration. All saplings, especially oaks, were reduced upon salvage logging which resulted in dominance by mesophytic species. Tornado damage increased all sapling densities, especially oaks, resulting in increased representation by upland oak species. In burned plots, oak saplings resisted and recovered from prescribed fire better than mesophytic saplings, but not enough to gain an overall height advantage. On poor soils, tornado damage alone may be enough to allow the regeneration of oak species without a prescribed fire. Results also indicate that natural regeneration of oaks may be incompatible with salvage logging, especially in areas that receive severe damage from high wind events.

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