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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Tailoring Prescribed Fire to Benefit Private Landowners and Longleaf Pine Restoration Efforts

Photo of Fire between March and May ensures regrowth of scorched foliage among longleaf pine seedlings and saplings.  Fire between March and May ensures regrowth of scorched foliage among longleaf pine seedlings and saplings. Snapshot : Strides to restore fire-adapted longleaf pine ecosystems depend on private landowner buy-in. Often landowner objectives demand more than longleaf survival and ecosystem restoration; they also require an acceptable rate of wood production. Maximizing growth of young longleaf pine requires rapid regrowth of scorched foliage to sustain normal carbon fixation and allocation.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Sword Sayer, Mary Anne 
Research Location : Palustris Experimental Forest on the Kisatchie National Forest; Winn Ranger District on the Kisatchie National Forest
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1568


Ongoing research has provided detailed information about prescribed fire and the conditions necessary for rapid regrowth of scorched foliage in seedling and sapling stands of longleaf pine. Two physiological mechanisms that regrow scorched foliage are seasonally available starch reserves and net photosynthesis in unscorched foliage. Conservation of some foliage on longleaf pine trees during prescribed fire promotes regrowth of scorched foliage, as USDA Forest Service researchers at the agency's Southern Research Station and cooperators have found. Between March and May, both starch reserves and net photosynthesis support post-scorch foliage regrowth. Beyond May, the regrowth of scorched foliage depends on net photosynthesis. When foliage conservation is unlikely due to seedling or sapling stature, prescribed fire should be applied between March and May. This information can guide fire application as early as the second growing season after planting. Controlling woody competitors during the period is critical to longleaf pine success. Restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem depends largely on private landowners. The scientists have shared these findings at technical and nontechnical forums. Additionally, the relationship between foliage and plant growth is universal. Thus, the principles of this research are applicable to all fire-adapted forest systems.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Fire Management Officers Larry Kile and Dustin Dill
  • KNF Winn Ranger District Silviculturist Brian Rudd
  • Kisatchie National Forest Forest Supervisor Lisa Lewis
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Unity College.