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Two centuries of fire in a southwestern Virginia Pinus pungens community

Sutherland, E. K.; Grissino-Mayer, H.; Woodhouse, C. A.; Covington, W. W.; Horn, S.; Huckaby, L.; Kerr, R.; Kush, J.; Moore, M.; Plumb, T. 1995. Two centuries of fire in a southwestern Virginia Pinus pungens community. In: Inventory and Management Techniques in the Context of Catastrophic Events: Altered States of the Forest; 1993 June 21-24; University Park, PA. Penn State University, Center for Statistical Ecology & Environmental Statistics. Online:

Fire exclusion in fire-dependent forest communities can alter stand structure and composition. The objective was to construct a fire history of two Pinus pungens Lamb. communities growing in southwestern Virgina. Treering analysis of fire-scarred P. pungens specimens and a tree survey were used to determine species composition and age distributions. From 1798-1944, fires burned approximately every 10 years. After acquisition by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (ca. 1935) the study area burned only once (1944). Most of the population derives from two large cohorts established in the 1850's and the 1930's, but some trees established during nearly every decade before 1950. Few, if any, trees have established since then. There appears to be a linkage between tree establishment and major fire occurrence. Recent regeneration failure appears to be coincident with fire exclusion. Continuing fire exclusion will probably result in decline in the P. pungens communities, as they succeed to Quercus-dominated communities.

Keywords: fire, Pinus pungens

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Two centuries of fire in a southwestern Virginia Pinus pungens community
Electronic Publish Date: June 28, 2012
Last Update:
June 28, 2012

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