Jean Huffman

Jean Huffman
Louisiana State University | LSU · Department of Biological Sciences

Ph.D.

About

23
Publications
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500
Citations

Publications

Publications (23)
Article
Full-text available
Tapirs (Tapiridae) are the last representatives of the Pleistocene megafauna of South and Central America. How they affect the ecology of plants was examined by studying the diversity, abundance, and condition of seeds defec-atedd by the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in Amazonian Brazil. Additionally, the spatio-temporal pattern of the seed-ra...
Article
Full-text available
Natural fires ignited by lightning strikes following droughts frequently are posited as the ecological mechanism maintaining discontinuous tree cover and grass-dominated ground layers in savannas. Such fires, however, may not reliably maintain humid savannas. We propose that savanna trees producing pyrogenic shed leaves might engineer fire characte...
Article
Rationale: Pyrogenic savannas with a tree-grassland "matrix" experience frequent fires (i.e. every 1-3 years). Aboveground responses to frequent fires have been well-studied, but responses of fungal litter decomposers, which directly affect fuels, remain poorly known. We hypothesized that each fire reorganizes below-ground communities and slows li...
Article
Full-text available
Fire regimes in North American forests are diverse and modern fire records are often too short to capture important patterns, trends, feedbacks, and drivers of variability. Tree‐ring fire scars provide valuable perspectives on fire regimes, including centuries‐long records of fire year, season, frequency, severity, and size. Here, we introduce the...
Article
Full-text available
Frequent fires maintain nearly 50% of terrestrial ecosystems, and drive ecosystem changes that govern future fires. Since fires are dependent on available plant or fine fuels, ecosystem processes that alter fine fuel loads like microbial decomposition are particularly important and could modify future fires. We hypothesized that variation in short-...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding of historical fire seasonality should facilitate development of concepts regarding fire as an ecological and evolutionary process. In tree-ring based fire history studies, the seasonality of fire scars can be classified based on the position of the fire scar within or between growth rings. Cambial phenology studies are needed to preci...
Article
Understanding the long-term natural flow regime of rivers enables resource managers to more accurately model water level variability. Models for managing water resources are important in Florida where population increase is escalating demand on water resources and infrastructure. The Suwannee River is the second largest river system in Florida and...
Article
Full-text available
Few tree-ring based fire-history studies have been completed in pine ecosystems of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, in part because of difficulties in finding old fire-scarred material. We propose specialized field methods that improve the likelihood of locating fire scars in dead trees (i.e. stumps, snags, and logs). Classic fire-history field meth...
Article
Natural fires ignited by lightning strikes following droughts frequently are posited as the ecological mechanism maintaining discontinuous tree cover and grass-dominated ground layers in savannas. Such fires, however, may not reliably maintain humid savannas. We propose that savanna trees producing pyrogenic shed leaves might engineer fire characte...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The frequency and seasonally of past fires are largely unknown for central Florida and are of interest to current fire managers. We investigated historic fire regimes of longleaf pine savannas in the Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR), the last large, mostly-intact natural landscape along the Central Florida ridge. Using tree ring analysis, we exami...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Historically, pine savannas characterized landscapes across the Gulf Coastal Region, including most of Florida. Treeless habitats (historically called "prairies") also occurred as lowland inclusions in savanna landscapes. What restricted trees from prairies? We develop a conceptual model that is based on prior models of prairie-forest landscapes. W...
Thesis
Southeastern coastal plain pine savannas lack direct evidence of past fire regimes. As a result, uncertainty exists regarding the range of variation in frequency and seasonal timing of past fire regimes and the relative importance of anthropogenic and lightning-ignited fires. Characterization of past fire regimes is needed for effective restoration...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, pine savannas characterized landscapes across the Gulf Coastal Region, including most of Florida. Treeless habitats (historically called “prairies”) also occurred as lowland inclusions in savanna landscapes. What restricted trees from prairies? We develop a conceptual model that is based on prior models of prairie-forest landscapes. W...
Article
Full-text available
Fire regimes of pine savannas on barrier islands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico are unknown. We used dendrochronological techniques to precisely date scars from 52 slash pines (Pinus elliottii Engelm.) located within a 370 ha area on Little St. George Island, Florida, USA, an undeveloped barrier island. We determined the years and seasons of...
Article
Full-text available
The reduced frequency of fire in southeastern pine savannas of the USA over the past 6 decades has caused increases in woody species cover and decreases in herbaceous species cover. In an experimental field study we examined the response of Lilium catesbaei to fire and roller-chopping (common management tools) in saw-palmetto-dominated dry prairie...
Article
Full-text available
The reduced frequency of fire in southeastern pine savannas over the past six decades has caused increases in woody species cover and decreases in herbaceous species cover. Although fire and restoration roller-chopping (chopping using techniques adapted for restoration) are established management techniques used to restore herbaceous cover to these...
Article
Full-text available
Myakka River State Park is located in southwestern peninsular Florida, east of Sarasota, in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. It is floristically diverse with plant communities ranging from dry, scrubby flatwoods to an extensive shallow lake-marsh system unique in this region. It includes the largest remaining area of the threatened Florida dry prairi...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Study of the plant biodiversity within pine savannas and associated habitats, which contribute most (~85%) of the endemic plant species in the North American Coastal Plain biodiversity hotspot. How are some fiery ecosystems so full of endemic species? There must be a long evolutionary history in association with fire. The more abundant and dominant plant species influence characteristics of fire regimes via effects on fuels: amounts, continuity over space, and flammability. As a result, the fire regimes are highly modified, actually engineered, in ways that benefit the dominant life forms. The dominant grasses - C4 warm season grasses such as Schizachyrium scoparium & S. tenerum, Sorghastrum nutans & S. elliotttii, Andropogon gerardi, and Aristida stricta/beyrichiana provide a matrix of rapidly drying and flammable fuels in the ground layer. These fuels are mixed with shed needles of longleaf pine, which by itself greatly alters fire characteristics, especially at ground level. Dominant shrubs, such as palms (Serenoa repens) and hollies like Ilex glabra and I. vomitoria, add incendiary fuels that explode upon reaching a critical ignition temperature. The real biodiversity, however, results from the speciation in the NACP of a number of genera of plants (graminoids & forbs), both widespread and localized, that do not add substantially to the fuel mixture and thus do not strongly influence the fire regimes. These species do appear to respond to the generation of environmental conditions that change over small scales and facilitate co-occurrence of different species along often very subtle gradients and in localized edaphic conditions. Frequent fires, by removal of litter and above-ground vegetation, expose the fine-grain differences in environmental conditions, to which the forbs appear to have responded.
Project
I am collaborating with Dr. Jean Huffman to reconstruct fire from longleaf pine collected in various parts of Florida.