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BpS Dominant and Indicator Species
Symbol Scientific Name Common Name
QUAL Quercus alba White oak
QUVE Quercus velutina Black oak
QUPR2 Quercus prinus Chestnut oak
QURU Quercus rubra Northern red oak
QUCO2 Quercus coccinea Scarlet oak
ACRU Acer rubrum Red maple
PIST Pinus strobus Eastern white pine
CARYA Carya Hickory
This system is naturally dominated by stable, uneven-aged forests, with canopy dynamics dominated by gap-phase regeneration. Most oaks are long-lived with typical age of mortality ranging from 200 to 400yrs. Scarlet and black oaks are shorter-lived with typical ages being approximately 50 to 100yrs, while white oaks can live as long as 600yrs. Extreme wind or ice storms occasionally create larger canopy openings.
The dry-mesic oak forest is predominantly Fire Regime I, characterized by low-severity surface fires. Historically, indigenous fires accounted for over 95% of the ignitions over these landscapes. Vegetation types varied based on fire frequency and intensity. Grassland prairies burned often (annually, biennially) and were probably associated with flat-to-slightly rolling terrain that effectively carried fire. These grasslands, deliberately maintained by Native Americans for hunting purposes, were probably scattered throughout the forest matrix. Oak-hickory tree-sprout and shrub thickets occurred where fire frequency was a bit less, probably 3-9yrs. Also, sprout conditions would arise immediately after catastrophic burns that would top-kill tree-dominated communities.
Savannas and woodlands developed within a moderate burning regime, with fire return intervals averaging every 5 to 15yrs. Closed-canopy oak-hickory forests would develop where fire return intervals stretched beyond 15yrs. Shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive maples (and associated late-successional trees) would regenerate and form understories beneath oak-hickory canopies when fire was excluded over several decades. With continued fire exclusion, maple and other late successional species would gradually replace overstory oaks and hickories through gap capture (Sutherland and Hutchinson 2003). A mosaic of vegetation types comprised oak-hickory landscapes contingent on fire history (Cutter and Guyette 1994). In a recent study on fire history of a red oak stand in West VA it was found that fire intervals ranged from 7 to 32yrs from 1846 to 2002 with a median of approximately 16yrs, and prior to the fire control era ranged from 7 to 15yrs (Schuler and McClain, 2003). Schuler and McClain stated that these observations did not deviate significantly from previous research in the oak forests of OH, MD, and Missouri. -- the above description was taken from RA model R6OAHI -- Oak Hickory.
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Major Land Resource Areas
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool is an information system framework developed by the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and New Mexico State University.