Growing season burns support conservation of open-longleaf and pocosin bird assemblages, Fort Bragg Military Installation, North Carolina, USA

  • Published source details Allen J.C., Krieger S.M., Walters J.R. & Collazo J.A. (2006) Associations of breeding birds with fire-influenced and riparian-upland gradients in a longleaf pine ecosystem. The Auk, 123, 1110-1128


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater swamps

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Use prescribed burning on pine forests

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater swamps

    A replicated, site comparison study in 1996 of 48 pocosins (shrub-dominated, freshwater wetlands) within pine forest in North Carolina, USA (Allen et al. 2006) found that triennial prescribed burning increased shrub and grass cover, but reduced canopy cover and tree species richness, and had no significant effect on fern cover, forb cover, canopy height or shrub/sapling species richness. Compared to pocosins that had not burned during any growing season, pocosins burned every three growing seasons had greater shrub cover (burned: 50%; unburned: 40%) and greater grass cover (burned: 14%; unburned: 6%). However, burned pocosins had lower canopy cover (burned: 75%; unburned: 89%) and contained fewer mature tree species (burned: 6 species/site; unburned: 10 species/site). Burned and unburned pocosins had statistically similar fern cover (10% vs 6%), forb cover (3% vs 2%), tree canopy height (22 vs 19 m), shrub species richness (13 vs 12 species/site) and sapling species richness (12 species/site). Methods: In 2006, vegetation was surveyed at 19 sites within pocosins burned every three growing seasons since 1989, and at 29 sites within pocosins that had not burned during the growing season in this period. The pocosins were historically disturbed by fire, but this was suppressed after European settlement. Mature trees were surveyed in four 11-m-radius plots/site. Other vegetation was surveyed in four 5-m-radius plots/site.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

  2. Use prescribed burning on pine forests

    A replicated, controlled study in 1994-1997 in open-longleaf pine and pocosin woodlands at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA (Allen et al. 2006), found that species associated with open longleaf habitats (e.g. red-cockaded woodpecker and Bachman's sparrow) were most common in burned areas of forest. Fire-suppression-associated species (e.g. wood thrush and ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla) were confined to denser vegetation around pocosins (woodland with a dense understorey around stream-heads) in burned areas, but were abundant in fire-suppressed areas with a dense understorey. Overall bird abundance and diversity was greater closer to the pocosins.


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