- Program Areas
- Energy and Water
- Environmental Restoration
- Munitions Response
- Resource Conservation and Climate Change
- Natural Resources
- Cultural Resources
- Climate Change
- Air Quality
- Weapons Systems and Platforms
Developing and Testing a Robust, Multi-Scale Framework for the Recovery of Longleaf Pine Understory Communities
Longleaf pine communities, which once stretched from Virginia to Texas, are one of the most diverse ecosystems outside of the tropics. While less than 3% of historical longleaf pine ecosystems remain, much of the southeastern United States has the potential for recovery. Recovery of longleaf pine understory plant communities can be partially achieved by changing site conditions such as burning frequency and the density of overstory trees. However, ecological mechanisms such as dispersal limitation, competition, and consumer effects also influence recovery. Furthermore, landscape effects such as connectivity may interact with site conditions and ecological mechanisms to influence the outcome of recovery efforts. Determining the relative importance of site conditions and ecological mechanisms and how they interact with landscape effects across spatial and temporal scales is imperative for directing recovery efforts of longleaf pine understory communities.
The objective of this project is to provide comprehensive insight into the relative importance of how site conditions and ecological mechanisms affect the potential for recovery of longleaf pine savanna understory plant communities in the southeastern United States by (1) defining ecological reference models that explicitly consider site conditions and landscape effects, (2) developing a means of assessing how degraded stands differ from reference stands, (3) determining which recovery strategies will be effective, and (4) devising a widely applicable method for quantifying recovery progress.
Reference conditions will be quantified by analyzing data from the Carolina Vegetation Survey, a survey that has been conducted in the least disturbed longleaf pine stands remaining in the southeastern United States. By using a combination of historical land-use data, contemporary vegetation data, and large-scale field experiments, researchers will determine how past legacies, management actions, and military activities influence the recovery potential of communities. Degraded stands will be compared to reference communities before and after experimental manipulations to determine the importance of ecological mechanisms for recovery. Two key products will be generated to support large-scale recovery of longleaf plant communities: (1) a field-ready method for classifying understory plant communities in longleaf pine savannas with regard to their recovery potential and (2) recovery guidelines that provide a roadmap for the restoration methods most likely to succeed given the characteristics of the degraded community. This framework will be developed and tested at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and the Savannah River Site, South Carolina.
By combining comparative and experimental approaches across a spectrum of site conditions at multiple spatial and temporal scales, the assessment framework for the recovery of longleaf pine understory communities will enable the Department of Defense and Department of Energy to identify any conflicts between recovery and military training and testing activities and between recovery and the habitat requirements for threatened, endangered, and at-risk species. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2014)
Symposium & Workshop
FY 2013 New Start Project Selections
Points of Contact
Dr. John Orrock
University of Wisconsin
Resource Conservation and Climate Change
SERDP and ESTCP
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