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Restoring a disappearing ecosystem: the Longleaf Pine Savanna.

Description: Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas of the southeastern United States contain some of the worlds most diverse plant communities, along with a unique complement of wildlife. Their traditionally open canopy structure and rich understory of grasses and herbs were critical to their vigor. However, a long history of land-use practices such as logging, farming, and fire exclusion have reduced this once-widespread ecosystem to only 3 percent of its original range. At six longleaf pine plantations in South Carolina, Tim Harrington with the Pacific Northwest Research Station and collaborators with the Southern Research Station used various treatments (including prescribed burns, tree thinning, and herbicide applications) to alter the forest structure and tracked how successful each one was in advancing savanna restoration over a 14-year period. They found that typical planting densities for wood production in plantations create dense understory shade that excludes many native herbaceous species important to savannas and associated wildlife. The scientists found that although tree thinning alone did not result in sustained gains, a combination of controlled burning, thinning, and herbicide treatments to reduce woody plants was an effective strategy for recovering the savanna ecosystem. The scientists also found that these efforts must be repeated periodically for enduring benefits.
Date: May 1, 2013
Creator: Harrington, Timothy B.; Miller, Karl V. & Park, Noreen
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The initial phase of a Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass Savanna restoration: species establishment and community responses.

Description: AbstractAbstract The significant loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem in the southeastern United States has serious implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In response to this loss, we have initiated a long-term and landscape-scale restoration experiment at the 80,125 ha (310 mi2) Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) located near Aiken, South Carolina. Aristida beyrichiana (wiregrass), an important and dominant grass (i.e., a “matrix” species) of the longleaf pine savanna understory, and 31 other herbaceous “non-matrix” species were planted at six locations throughout SRS in 2002 and 2003. Of the 36,056 transplanted seedlings, 75% were still alive in June 2004, while mean 1–2 year survival across all planted species was 48%. Lespedeza hirta (hairy lespedeza) exhibited the greatest overall survival per 3 ×3 m cell at 95%, whereas Schizachyrium spp. (little bluestem) exhibited the greatest mean cover among individual species at 5.9%. Wiregrass survival and cover were significantly reduced when planted with non-matrix species. Aggregate cover of all planted species in restored cells averaged 25.9% in 2006. High rates of survival and growth of the planted species resulted in greater species richness (SR), diversity, and vegetative cover in restored cells. Results suggest that the loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem may be ameliorated through restoration efforts and illustrate the positive impact of restoration plantings on biodiversity and vegetative cover.
Date: September 1, 2010
Creator: Aschenbach, Todd, A; Foster, Bryan, L. & Imm, Donald, W.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Presence and absence of bats across habitat scales in the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina.

Description: Abstract During 2001, we used active acoustical sampling (Anabat II) to survey foraging habitat relationships of bats on the Savannah River Site (SRS) in the upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Using an a priori information-theoretic approach, we conducted logistic regression analysis to examine presence of individual bat species relative to a suite of microhabitat, stand, and landscape-level features such as forest structural metrics, forest type, proximity to riparian zones and Carolina bay wetlands, insect abundance, and weather. There was considerable empirical support to suggest that the majority of the activity of bats across most of the 6 species occurred at smaller, stand-level habitat scales that combine measures of habitat clutter (e.g., declining forest canopy cover and basal area), proximity to riparian zones, and insect abundance. Accordingly, we hypothesized that most foraging habitat relationships were more local than landscape across this relatively large area for generalist species of bats. The southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius) was the partial exception, as its presence was linked to proximity of Carolina bays (best approximating model) and bottomland hardwood communities (other models with empirical support). Efforts at SRS to promote open longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly pine (P. taeda) savanna conditions and to actively restore degraded Carolina bay wetlands will be beneficial to bats. Accordingly, our results should provide managers better insight for crafting guidelines for bat habitat conservation that could be linked to widely accepted land management and environmental restoration practices for the region.
Date: October 1, 2006
Creator: Ford, W.Mark; Menzel, Jennifer M.; Menzel, Michael A.: Edwards, John W. & Kilgo, John C.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Bat response to carolina bays and wetland restoration in the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain.

Description: Abstract: Bat activity in the southeastern United States is concentrated over riparian areas and wetland habitats. The restoration and creation of wetlands for mitigation purposes is becoming common in the Southeast. Understanding the effects of these restoration efforts on wetland flora and fauna is thus becoming increasingly important. Because bats (Order: Chiroptera) consist of many species that are of conservation concern and are commonly associated with wetland and riparian habitats in the Southeast (making them a good general indicator for the condition of wetland habitats), we monitored bat activity over restored and reference Carolina bays surrounded by pine savanna (Pinus spp.) or mixed pine-hardwood habitat types at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. In order to determine how wetland restoration efforts affected the bat community, we monitored bat activity above drained Carolina bays pre- and post-restoration. Our results indicate that bat activity was greater over reference (i.e., undrained) than drained bays prior to the restorative efforts. One year following combined hydrologic and vegetation treatment, however, bat activity was generally greater over restored than reference bays. Bat activity was also greater over both reference and restored bays than in random, forested interior locations. We found significantly more bat activity after restoration than prior to restoration for all but one species in the treatment bays, suggesting that Carolina bay restoration can have almost immediate positive impacts on bat activity.
Date: September 1, 2005
Creator: Menzel, Jennifer M.; Menzel, Michael A.; Kilgo, John C.; Ford, W. Mark & Edwards., John W.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department