Relationship between herbaceous layer, stand, and site variables in the Bankhead National Forest, AlabamaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
We studied herbaceous layer richness, diversity and cover in stands on the southern Cumberland Plateau. The stands are mixed pine-hardwoods dominated by 25-40-year-old planted loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). Scheduled future treatments combining thinning and fire are designed to restore the hardwood component, particularly oak (Quercus spp.) and hickory (Carya spp.) species, and to increase herbaceous diversity. We related pretreatment herbaceous layer (vegetation < 1.4 m height) richness, diversity, and cover to basal area and site variables on 125 plots in 25 stands. Our models showed significant but weak relationships. Slope, broadleaf litter cover, and basal area accounted for 14 percent of the herbaceous layer richness. Models for species diversity and cover had lower coefficients of determination. The measured stand and site variables were not reliable predictors of pretreatment herbaceous layer variation.