Red maple (Acer rubrum) response to prescribed burning on the William B. Bankhead National Forest, AlabamaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Prescribed burning is used as a management tool on national forests in the Southeastern United States to maintain oak (Quercus spp.) -dominated forest or woodland habitat. Few studies have examined response to burning at the stand, plot, and tree level. We documented red maple (Acer rubrum) response to dormant-season prescribed burns and the relationship with fire characteristics. At the stand level, large seedling density increased in burned stands by 930 trees per acre, significantly higher than the increase of 10 trees per acre in control stands. Prescribed burning had no effect on red maple sapling mortality, sprouting, or diameter growth. Maximum temperature did not predict red maple density changes or sprouting occurrence at the plot level. At the tree level, char height was a significant predictor of sprouting, and saplings could produce up to 97 sprouts following burning. We conclude that burning as applied in this study was not an effective tool to change species composition and stand structure in this ecosystem.