Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Program

Biology

Date of Award

8-2006

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Timothy D. McDowell

Committee Members

Foster Levy, Istvan Karsai, Thomas F. Laughlin

Abstract

Prescribed fire in the southern Appalachians is a frequently used and controversial forest management practice. Research is limited on the effects of prescribed fire in the mesic southern Appalachians, where many of Tennessee's rare and regionally endemic plant species occur. This study examined the effects of prescribed fire on the herbaceous layer. Field work was conducted on six previously burned sites within the Cherokee National Forest in northeast Tennessee. Complimentary non-burned sites were selected based on similarity of physical characteristics and forest structure. The numbers of herbaceous species and individuals and the total numbers of species and individuals were determined and used to compare burned and unburned forest. Following prescribed fires there were significant reductions in the number of herbaceous species and individuals. Species with myrmecochorous (ant-dispersed) seeds were markedly reduced on burned sites. Despite considerable variation among sites, the negative impact of fire on forest herbs was clearly evident.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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