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Composition and Structure of a Montane Longleaf Pine Stand on the Alabama Piedmont

Jonathan M. Kressuk1, Jonathan D. Goode2,*, Arvind A.R. Bhuta3, Justin L. Hart2, Jonathan S. Kleinman2, David L. Phillips2, and Kevin G. Willson4

1College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, AR, 71656. 2Department of Geography, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487. 3Washington Office, USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC 20250. 4Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87106. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 436–446

Montane Pinus palustris (Longleaf Pine) forests of the southeastern United States are understudied compared to Longleaf Pine forests of the Coastal Plain. In this study, we quantified composition and structure of a montane Longleaf Pine stand in Weogufka State Forest in Coosa County, AL. We compared contemporary stand conditions to historical records to describe stand dynamics over time. Results indicated that the stand was dominated by Longleaf Pine, followed by Blackjack Oak, Chestnut Oak, and Mockernut Hickory. Longleaf Pine establishment began in the 1750s with continuous, minimal recruitment until a large establishment pulse, along with that of oak and hickory species, in the 1930s. Establishment trends over time corresponded to changes in land use and altered disturbance regimes, which included fire exclusion in the 1920s, intensive harvesting in the early 1930s, and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) occupation during 1933–1942. Compared to other published data on montane Longleaf Pine, the stand studied here had a higher density and basal area, as well as fewer Longleaf Pine stems in small size classes. It is important to understand how changes in land use and disturbance regimes alter montane Longleaf Pine successional and developmental pathways to inform restoration efforts in these understudied systems.

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