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Simulating the impacts of southern pine beetle and fire on the dynamics of xerophytic pine landscapes in the southern Appalachians

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Abstract:

Question: Can fire be used to maintain Yellow pine (Pinus subgenus Diploxylon) stands disturbed by periodic outbreaks of southern pine beetle?

Location: Southern Appalachian Mountains, USA.

Methods: We used LANDIS to model vegetation disturbance and succession on four grids representative of xeric landscapes in the southern Appalachians. Forest dynamics of each landscape were simulated under three disturbance scenarios: southern pine beetle, fire, and southern pine beetle and fire, as well as a no disturbance scenario. We compared trends in the abundance of pine and hardwood functional types as well as individual species.

Results: Yellow pine abundance and open woodland conditions were best maintained by a combination of fire and southern pine beetle disturbance on both low elevation sites as well as mid-elevation ridges & peaks. On mid-elevation SE-W facing slopes, pine woodlands were best maintained by fire alone.

Conclusions: Our simulations suggest that fire can help maintain open pine woodlands in stands affected by southern pine beetle outbreaks.

Keywords: DENDROCTONUS FRONTALIS; FOREST DISTURBANCE; FOREST RESTORATION; LANDIS; LANDSCAPE MODELING; PINUS; VEGETATION DYNAMICS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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