The establishment and development of oak forests in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas
The disturbance history of six mature white oak (Quercus alba L.) - northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) - hickory (Carya spp.) stands in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas were reconstructed using tree-ring and fire-scar analysis. Results indicate that all six stands originated in the early 1900s following timber harvesting and (or) fire. These disturbances initiated a pulse of oak-dominated establishment. Most sites were periodically burned during the next several decades. Abrupt radial growth increases in all stands during the 1920s to 1940s reflected additional disturbances. These perturbations likely provided growing space for existing trees, but did not result in increased seedling establishment. Thus, multiple disturbances were important in the origin and development of the stands studied. By the 1930s and 1940s, oak establishment was replaced by shade-tolerant, fire-intolerant non-oak species; few oak recruited into tree size classes after the 1950s. The decrease in oaks and the increase in non-oaks coincided with fire suppression. Few scars were recorded during the past 60–70 years. Prescribed fire may be an important management tool in regenerating oak forests in northern Arkansas.