No evidence of fire exclusion in the fire-scar record for the Red Hills Region of the US Southeast

Authors: Monica Rother*, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Jean Huffman, Tall Timbers, Kevin Robertson, Tall Timbers, Chris Guiterman, University of Arizona
Topics: Biogeography, Environmental Science, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: dendrochronology, tree-ring science, the Red Hills, fire history, longleaf pine, natural disturbance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall East, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We developed a tree-ring based fire history of southern pines in the Red Hills Region of northern Florida and southwestern Georgia. Fire-scarred cross sections were collected primarily from longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) at four sites: Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, The Wade Tract, Pebble Hill Plantation, and Millpond Plantation. Our results indicate that burning occurred every 1–5 years from at least the late 1800s to present day. Our c. 140-year record of continual frequent fire during the period of study (1880–2016) contrasts with the fire-scar record for most other sites in the United States. Elsewhere, tree-ring based fire histories document little or no fire beginning around the time of Euro-American settlement. The burning we documented resulted largely from human-set fires used to maintain these open pine savannas and promote quail habitat. At some sites, we also compared the most recent fire-scar record to known records of prescribed fire and documented strong agreement in terms of fire frequency and seasonality.

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