Sustainable management of longleaf pine

The Center’s approach to sustainable management of longleaf pine on Ichauway is based on the concept of ecological forestry.

Ecological forestry uses natural disturbances and stand development processes as a guide to silvicultural prescriptions and the desired forest structure.

This theme carries forward the tradition of ecological forestry in southeastern longleaf pine ecosystems begun by Herbert Stoddard and Leon Neel that became known as the Stoddard-Neel approach to forest management.

The growing interest in longleaf pine restoration and management creates a need to expand knowledge of how to balance the management of these forests for both ecological and economic goals.

One field experiment contrasts stands managed under the Stoddard-Neel system using single-tree selection with other approaches to uneven-aged management, such as group selection with green-tree retention.

A second field experiment tests management strategies for adaptation to climate change stress.

All research projects emphasize quantitative measurement of two key processes: prescribed fire for modulating competition between resprouting hardwoods and regenerating longleaf pine, and water availability as the key limiting growth resource. Future horizons are to develop means of scaling our research up beyond the scope of the stand to provide guidance for managing entire landscapes.

Key Publications

Bigelow, S. W., N. A. Jansen, S. B. Jack, and C. L. Staudhammer. 2018. Influence of selection method on skidder-trail soil compaction in longleaf pine forest. Forest Science 64:641-652.
Bigelow, S. W., A. W. Whelan. 2019. Longleaf pine proximity effects on air temperatures and hardwood top-kill from prescribed fire. Fire Ecology 12:27 DOI: 10.1186/s42408-019-0039-7
Flanagan, S. A., S. Bhotika, G. Starr, S. Wiesner, J. K. Hiers, J. J. O’Brien, S. Goodrick, M. A. Callaham, R. M. Scheller, K. D. Klepzig, S. Taylor, E. L. Loudermilk. 2019. Fire Season, Overstory Density and Groundcover Composition Affect Understory Hardwood Sprout Demography in Longleaf Pine Woodlands. Ecosphere
Hiers, J. K., J. R. Walters, R. J. Mitchell, J. M. Varner, L. M. Conner, L. A. Blanc, and J. Stowe. 2014. Ecological value of retaining pyrophytic oaks in longleaf pine ecosystems. Journal of Wildlife Management 78:383-393.
McIntyre, R. K., S. B. Jack, R. J. Mitchell, J. K. Hiers, and W. L. Neel. 2008. Multiple Value Management: The Stoddard-Neel Approach to Ecological Forestry in Longleaf Pine Grasslands. Miscellaneous publication of the J. W. Jones Ecological Research Center.
McIntyre, R. K., B. B. McCall, and D. N. Wear. 2017. The social and economic drivers of the southeastern forest landscape. Pages 39-67 in L. K. Kirkman, and S. B. Jack (eds.). Ecological Restoration and Management of Longleaf Pine Forests. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.
Mitchell, R. J., J. K. Hiers, J. J. O’Brien, S. B. Jack, and R. T. Engstrom. 2006. Silviculture that sustains: the nexus between silviculture, frequent prescribed fire, and conservation of biodiversity in longleaf pine forests of the southeastern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36:2724-2736. Reproduced with permission of the National Research Council Press © 2006.
Perkins, M. W., L. M. Conner, and M. B. Howze. 2008. The importance of hardwood trees in the longleaf pine forest ecosystem for Sherman’s fox squirrels. Forest Ecology and Management 255:1618-1625.