Main content area

Regeneration of pitch pine (Pinus rigida) stands inhibited by fire suppression in Albany Pine Bush Preserve, New York

Lee, Chang-Seok, Robinson, George R., Robinson, Ingrid P., Lee, Hansol
Journal of forestry research 2019 v.30 no.1 pp. 233-242
Pinus rigida, Quercus ilicifolia, Vaccinium, blueberries, fire history, fire suppression, fires, pine barrens, seedlings, shrublands, New York
The Pine Barrens in New York State are dominated by pitch pine (Pinus ridgida) and scrub oaks (Quercus ilicifolia and Q. prinoides). With fire suppression over the last 90 years or so, P. rigida regeneration has become sparse, even in areas set aside to preserve this type of vegetation. We evaluated the effects of fire and an alternative disturbance (mechanical removal of vegetation) for increasing P. rigida regeneration in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in eastern New York State. By comparing cover, diameter and height of P. rigida, Q. ilicifolia, Q. prinoides, and Vaccinium spp. (blueberry) growing on the sites with a known fire history, we documented structural and compositional changes in the vegetation since its establishment. We also compared sites on which Quercus sprouts were controlled through mechanical removal. In the years following a disturbance, height and cover of Q. ilicifolia increased continuously and the species became increasingly competitive. Both the density of P. rigida seedlings and Vaccinium cover decreased significantly as the diameter and height of Quercus increased. Our results confirmed that the dominance by P. rigida could be attributed to periodic fires at intervals of 20–25 years. We conclude that removing Q. ilicifolia can favor P. rigida dominance on the barren without fire by releasing pine seedlings from competition.