Effects of repeated burning on snag abundance in shortleaf pine woodlands
Forest managers are restoring and maintaining forest woodlands across substantial areas of the United States, and these efforts typically require the use of frequent prescribed fire. The effects of frequent prescribed fire on important habitat components such as snags remain unknown. We conducted a study to determine how snag densities are affected by repeated prescribed burning in stands being restored to shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) woodlands in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas during summer 2015. We assessed snag densities in woodland forest stands that had 1, 2, 3, and 4–6 burns (n=6 stands in each burn class) after overstory thinning and midstory removal. In woodlands, density of large snags (=15 cm dbh) was not significantly related to the previous number of burns, but density of small snags (5–14.9 cm dbh) was lower in stands with greater numbers of burns. Repeated burning did not appear to result in lower numbers of large snags, which are an important habitat component for numerous wildlife species.