- Eric E. Knapp - Research Ecologist
- Matt D. Busse - Research Soil Microbiologist
- Carl N. Skinner - Research Geographer
- J. Morgan Varner - Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University
- Fuel loading in masticated areas
- Fire behavior and above-ground fire effects
- Below-ground fire effects: soil heating
- Treatment longevity: shrub and understory response
Masticated Fuels Research
Treatment longevity: shrub and understory response
Among questions that managers frequently have about mastication treatments are: 1) how long will the fire hazard reduction benefits last? And 2) what is the effect of masticated wood covering the forest floor on understory plant species?
In order to address both questions, we recorded shrub species and shrub cover at each of the ten masticated fuels sites, along with the fuel loading data. Understory species were evaluated in a larger scale sampling at one of the sites with replicated treatment units (Challenge).
- Regrowth of shrubs after mastication depends strongly upon the growth habits of the shrubs. Resprouting species such as snowbrush grow back rapidly, while seeding species such as white-leaved manzanita, take longer to recolonize an area.
- Masticated wood on the soil surface did not suppress native species. In fact, significantly more species were found in masticated plots than in unmasticated control plots. Removing the masticated wood with a prescribed burn resulted in even more native species. Mastication also led to an increase in the density of non-native weedy species, but numbers were low relative to native species.
- Mastication did not depress shrub seedlings – density of seedlings in masticated units was not significantly different from the unmasticated control. The density of shrub seedlings did increase significantly when mastication was followed with prescribed burning.