Improving Coastal Plain Hardwoods for White-tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys with Forest Stand Improvement and Prescribed Fire
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Forestry and Wildlife Science
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Hardwood forests in the Coastal Plain often are not actively managed, as many landowners and managers fear that forest management will damage mast-producing hardwood species. Accordingly, forage and cover for game species, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), often are lacking as a result of limited sunlight in the understory. Nonetheless, some managers are unwilling to reduce canopy coverage and apply prescribed fire because of a lack of knowledge on effects of these practices within the system. Therefore, we applied noncommercial forest stand improvement (FSI) and prescribed fire in four hardwood stands in the Coastal Plain of Alabama. Forest stand improvement was implemented by cutting and killing undesirable tree species to allow approximately 30% sunlight into stands. FSI was conducted with triclopyr in half the treatment units, and a mixture of triclopyr and imazapyr in the other half to evaluate herbicide efficacy and nontarget mortality. Prescribed fire was subsequently applied to half of each herbicide treatment unit in each stand. We evaluated the effects of canopy reduction and prescribed fire on deer forage and turkey brooding cover, as well as the impact of treatments on residual trees.