Effects of Planting Density, Prescribed Fire, and Other Factors on Stand Structure and Wildlife Habitat in Longleaf Pine Stands in Alabama
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Forestry and Wildlife Science
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Though the distribution of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests has decreased throughout the past century, increasing awareness of the economic and ecological benefits of longleaf silviculture has stimulated restoration efforts via plantation forestry. However, designing planting and management prescriptions that effectively balance wildlife habitat and timber production objectives in plantations can be difficult. While planting to greater densities may increase potential revenues, some wildlife-focused restoration programs implement planting density restrictions due to the concern that densely planted stands will reduce the amount and duration of availability of herbaceous understory vegetation, negatively impacting wildlife habitat quality. However, the outcomes of these restrictions and the influence of prescribed fire in mitigating density concerns have not been thoroughly evaluated. Therefore, we initiated a study to examine the contributions of planting density and management history on stand structure and understory vegetation in select pre-commercial thin longleaf stands in the Coastal Plain of Alabama.