Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems (SRS RWU 4158)

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To provide knowledge and strategies for restoring, managing, and sustaining longleaf pine ecosystems

Initiated during the realignment of the Southern Research Station in 2007, SRS RWU- 4158 is a team of 6 scientists and support personnel whose mission is to provide knowledge and strategies for restoring, managing, and sustaining longleaf pine ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Scientists in the Unit work on two overarching research problems. They design and carry out research studies that seek to solve these problems or overcome related limitations to our knowledge of longleaf pine ecosystems. The Unit's scientists work with partners to provide knowledge and technologies needed to successfully restore and manage these ecosystems which are increasingly affected by a variety of human and natural influences in times of environmental stress and cultural and climatic change. The problem areas are as follows:

  • Providing fundamental physiological knowledge needed to understand the processes that affect longleaf pine seedling production, establishment, and growth and development.
  • Providing ecological information about population and community processes that affect restoration of longleaf pine woodlands and at risk native plant species.
  • Providing practices, strategies, and models that quantify and predict the influence of management on maintaining and restoring longleaf pine ecosystems.

Our scientists work with partners and cooperators to provide knowledge and technologies needed to successfully restore and manage these ecosystems as they are increasingly affected by a variety of human and natural influences in times of environmental stress and cultural and climatic change.

Selected News and Events

Good News for Eradicating Cogongrass in the South

Cogongrass invading forested area. Photo by Charles T. Bryson, courtesy of Bugwood.org.

March 3, 2015 on CompassLive

Over the past decade, U.S. Forest Service researchers have been working with university cooperators to find some way to slow down or stop the relentless spread of cogongrass. This last fall, Auburn University researchers reported results that demonstrate, for the first time, that patches of cogongrass can be eliminated completely within three years — showing that eradication of the invasive plant is actually possible for many land managers.

Read the full article »

Clemson Employees Volunteer Project

January 19, 2015

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service on January 19th, Clemson employees Joan Walker and Shawna Reid volunteered at a local home for abused and neglected children, helping to landscape the grounds of the complex.

Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots

Damage from Southern Pine Beetle

December 4, 2014 on CompassLive

Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots, a general technical report (GTR) by the Southern Research Station (SRS), provides detailed guidance for regenerating pines in areas within forest stands where trees have been killed by southern pine beetle.

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Pro-B: A Practical Management Tool for Implementing Selection Silviculture

A longleaf pine stand on the flatwoods of Goethe State Forest in north central Florida treated with single-tree selection using the Pro-B method. Photo by Dale Brockway.

September 30, 2014 on CompassLive

Pro-B, a method developed by U.S. Forest Service research, helps make uneven-aged management of longleaf pine and other forest types a practical and efficient option for landowners and managers. A recent field study showed that after less than three hours of training on the Pro-B (proportional basal area) method, managers were able to accurately mark stands using only a single marking pass.

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2014 a Bumper Year for Longleaf Pine Cone Crops

Longleaf pine conelets will shed seed this October. Photo courtesy of Bugwood.com.

June 24, 2014

Dale Brockway, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), recently published his yearly summary of projected longleaf pine cone production for 2014 and 2015. The report shows that a very good longleaf pine cone crop is expected in October 2014 for the Southeast.

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Field Day at Escambia National Forest

June 12, 2014

A field day was held on June 12, 2014 on the Escambia Experimental Forest. RWU-4158, in conjunction with Auburn University, hosted 75 attendees. This event celebrated 67 years of research on the Forest, which is on land leased from T.R. Miller Mill Company (now with its sister company Cedar Creek Land & Timber, Inc.). The program covered various aspects of longleaf pine research and management, from products and poles to management for wildlife game species. In addition to the many presentations by Auburn University researchers and other invited presenters, Unit scientist Dr. Mary Anne S. Sayer discussed fire and its effects on longleaf pine, while Drs. Dave Haywood and Susana Sung addressed issues of concern in growing and planting container seedlings and the use of herbicides to control competition. The Unit’s new Project Leader, Dr. Jim Guldin, was also present and led a session on uneven-aged management of longleaf pine.

Longleaf Pine Cone Crop Outlook

Dale Brockway conducting longleaf pine cone survey. Photo by Yoko Brockway.

A very good longleaf pine cone crop is expected in October 2014 for the Southeastern United States, with an average of 98 cones per tree. On monitored sites, the highest cone production is anticipated in Grant County LA, Escambia County AL, Santa Rosa County FL, Baker County GA and Chattahoochee County GA, with bumper crops exceeding the 100 cones per tree threshold. Cone production should also be good in Chesterfield County SC and Okaloosa County FL, at greater than 50 cones per tree.

Cone crops for the current year are calculated in the spring by using binoculars to count the number of green conelets present on the crowns of mature longleaf pine trees growing in low-density stands. Cone crops for the following year are estimated by also counting the number of small flowers present in the crowns of same longleaf pine trees.

The regional cone crop outlook for October 2015 is estimated to be fair, at 44 cones per tree. However, estimates based on flower counts are less reliable than those based on conelet counts, because flowers present during their first year often do not survive into their second year to become conelets. The 49-year regional cone production average is 28 cones per tree, with the single best cone crop occurring in 1996, at 115 cones per tree. This year’s 98 cones per tree is the second best regional longleaf pine cone crop on record. Fair or better cone crops have occurred during 51% of all years since 1966, with an increasing frequency since 1983. The reason for this increasing frequency may be related to genetic, environmental or management factors, but the specific cause is not known at this time. You can view the full report or the historical summary as well.

James Guldin Appointed Project Leader

James Guldin

April 21, 2014

On April 21, 2014 James M. Guldin was appointed project leader RWU-4158, Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems. He also remains the project leader for RWU-4159, Ecology and Management of Southern Pines.

History and Current Condition of Longleaf Pine in the Southern United States

Unit scientists Dale Brockway, Joan Walker, and Kristina Connor contributed to a new publication, "History and current condition of longleaf pine in the Southern United States."

Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems (RWU - 4158)

Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
Southern Research Station
Mail:  P.O. Box 1270
Ship: 607 Reserve Street
Hot Springs, AR 71902
870-723-1623