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.

News

people listening to presentation at EEF Field Day

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. 

Dale Brockway checking cone counts

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 M. Guldin, project leader
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.
Cover of GTR-SRS-166
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"