The vascular flora of the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center, Forrest and Lamar counties, Mississippi, with comments on compositional change after a decade of prescribed fire

  • William J. McFarland, School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Danielle Cotton, School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Mac H. Alford School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Micheal A. Davis School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystems exhibit high species diversity and are major contributors to the extraordinary levels of regional biodiversity and endemism found in the North American Coastal Plain Province. These forests require frequent fire return intervals (every 2–3 years) to maintain this rich diversity. In 2009, a floristic inventory was conducted at the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center owned by the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Center is located on 106 ha with approximately half covered by a 100+ year old longleaf pine forest. When the 2009 survey was conducted, fire had been excluded for over 20 years resulting in a dense understory dominated by woody species throughout most of the forest. The 2009 survey recorded 282 vascular plant species. Prescribed fire was reintroduced in 2009 and reapplied again in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. A new survey was conducted in 2019 to assess the effects of prescribed fire on floristic diversity. The new survey found an additional 268 species bringing the total number of plants species to 550. This study highlights the changes in species diversity that occurs when fire is reintroduced into a previously fire-suppressed system and the need to monitor sensitive areas for changes in species composition.

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Published
2020-12-07
How to Cite
McFarland, W. J., Cotton, D., Alford, M. H., & Davis, M. A. (2020). The vascular flora of the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center, Forrest and Lamar counties, Mississippi, with comments on compositional change after a decade of prescribed fire. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 14(2), 413-433. https://doi.org/10.17348/jbrit.v14.i2.1020