Assessing the seasonality of historical fires using fire scars in tree rings: insights from stem cambial phenological patterns of pines in Florida and southern Georgia

Authors: Monica Rother*, Tall Timbers, Jean M. Huffman, Tall Timbers, Grant L. Harley, University of Idaho, William J. Platt, Louisiana State University , Neil Jones, Tall Timbers, Kevin M. Robertson, Tall Timbers, Steve L. Orzell, Avon Park Air Force Range
Topics: Biogeography
Keywords: dendrochronology, tree rings, fire scars, Southeastern Coastal Plain, fire history, longleaf pine, Florida, Georgia, cambial phenology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In tree-ring based fire-history studies, dendrochronologists classify the seasonality of fire scars based on the position of the scar tip within an annual growth ring. However, the timing of dormancy, earlywood production, and latewood production can vary significantly among research sites and thus local or regional cambial phenology data are needed to associate a given scar position with a specific time of year. We developed a multi-year dataset of stem cambial phenological patterns for three species of pines at our study sites in Florida and southern Georgia. We used dendrometer band data to determine monthly growth rates and the timing of dormancy. We used short increment cores to determine the timing of earlywood versus latewood production. Climate and lightning fire data were used to provide context for the various cambial phenology phases. We found that in our study area, the dormant period was generally restricted to only 1-2 months in the winter and the transition from earlywood to latewood typically occurred in June. We used our findings along with previous work to develop a modified system for classifying the seasonality of fire scars in our region. This system accounts for the distinct ring anatomy of the pine species we studied and better captures the lightning-fire season by including a new position at the earlywood to latewood transition. We are now using this system for several fire-history studies currently underway.

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