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Longleaf Pine Stump in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina



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Southern yellow pine specimens collected from historical structures, stumps, and coarse woody debris in forests have been difficult to identify at the species level due to similar wood anatomy. This can be problematic for dendrochronologists when identifying the correct species used in the construction of historical structures, or reconstructing forest history on the landscape and using those specimens in the context of that history. We applied a quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA) to update a century-old method plotting pith diameters against second annual ring diameters to discern one species of southern yellow pine from others. Our analysis estimates error rates for false positive and false negative determinations when comparing longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) to shortleaf (Pinus echinata Mill.) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). The cross-validated false positive error rates for the smallest dataset (n = 46), was nearly twice (9.52%) that determined as a simple proportion by counting errant observations (4.76%). QDA of the largest dataset (n = 206) gave a flatter zero contour and false positive rate (3.13%) like the proportionally determined value (1.56%), despite one additional observation being falsely assigned to longleaf pine by QDA. An unknown, unearthed southern pine specimen from southeastern Virginia was radiocarbon dated up to 500 years prior and assigned as longleaf by our method (probability ≥ 0.9998). Thus, through a QDA, it is possible to greatly improve confidence in identifications of key unknown specimens that can provide evidence of discerning one species, longleaf pine, from other southern yellow pines.
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Fire-maintained longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) savannas are imperiled throughout their range in the United States, reduced in extent by 97% since European settlement. Only half of extant stands show evidence of fire; fire suppression has led to dramatic changes in composition and declines in plant diversity. Examples of pristine vegetation are known for most of longleaf pine's distinct regions - a notable exception being mountainous communities in Alabama and Georgia, USA, collectively termed the mountain longleaf pine savannas. We sampled over- and understory vegetation in two frequently burned old-growth mountain longleaf pine stands at Fort McClellan, a U.S. Army garrison in the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province of Alabama. Over the spring, summer, and fall 1999 study period, 82 native plant species were encountered in plots, representing 60 genera and 35 families. Overstory composition was dominated by longleaf pine, with blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica Muenchh.) and sand hickory (Carya pallida [Ashe] Engl. & Graeb.) as co-dominants in both stands. Understory communities were species-rich, dominated by grasses (principally Andropogon ternarius Michx.), asters (Coreopsis major Walt., Chrysopsis graminifolia [Michx.] Elliott, Helianthus microcephallus Torrey & Gray, Solidago odora Ait., and others), and many legumes. Non-native species were not encountered in sampling plots. Evidence suggests that historic fires in mountain longleaf pine savannas were frequent (1-to 5-y return interval) and frequent fire is needed to maintain this ecosystem in the contemporary southeastern landscape.
The Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge (MLNWR), located in northeastern Alabama, is unique in that it holds significant acreages of young and old-growth montane longleaf pine forest (Pinus palustris Mill.). We conducted a study to aid in the management and restoration of longleaf pine communities on the MLNWR. Our objectives were to: (1) establish permanent forest monitoring plots; (2) document herbaceous and woody vegetation; and (3) measure forest diversity, structure, and fuel loads in montane longleaf pine communities with varying fire and management histories. We established 48 plots, 0.04 ha in area, in winter 2008 and measured all plots in summer 2008. The MLNWR has recently incorporated prescribed burning in their management plans and each plot was categorized by the year it was burned (2008, 2006, 2004, no-burn) and whether hardwood control treatments were applied. We identified 18, 19, and 22 different woody plant species in the overstory, mid-story, and understory, respectively, across plots. Longleaf pine basal area ranged from 5 to 10 m2 ha-1 and represented as much as 80% of basal area across plots. Mid-story basal area and woody plant species diversity were lower in plots receiving fire or hardwood control. Longleaf pine regeneration was found in only 17 plots and was highest in burned plots or plots receiving hardwood control. Burning also increased grass and herbaceous ground cover. Fuel loads were high with an average humus layer accumulation of 35 Mg ha-1. Regular fire intervals are needed to reduce fuels and mid-story density and aid in the regeneration of longleaf pine.
Structural characteristics of frequently-burned old-growth longleaf pine stands in the mountains of Alabama
---. 2003b. Structural characteristics of frequently-burned old-growth longleaf pine stands in the mountains of Alabama. Castanea 68(3): 211-221. doi: 10.2307/4034168.