Oak Savanna Restoration by Prescribed Fire and Overstory Thinning

Oak savannas were historically prevalent throughout southern lower Michigan, forming part of broad transition zone between Eastern deciduous forests and the Great Plains. Today, oak savannas are exceedingly rare throughout the Midwest and, where they remain, fire suppression and resulting encroachment by fire sensitive trees and shrubs has dramatically altered these systems' structure and biodiversity. Restoration of fire suppressed oak savannas generally involves the reintroduction of fire, but questions remain about the necessity and impact of coupling fire with overstory thinning - mechanical clearing of encroaching trees. This talk provides an overview of oak savanna restoration at the Michigan State University MacCready Reserve, where we initiated an experiment in 2010 to compare restoration by prescribed fire alone and prescribed fire with overstory thinning, with unmanaged control areas. Work to date has evaluated impacts on ecosystem structure (e.g., tree density and light availability), understory plants, and pollinating insects.

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Friday, January 15, 2016 - 10:45am to 11:00am
Lars Brudvig
Michigan State University
Lars Brudvig is an Assistant Professor of Plant Ecology at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology. His research investigates how human activities impact biodiversity and prospects for its restoration. Current research projects focus on plant community ecology and restoration of prairies and oak savannas in Michigan, and longleaf pine woodlands in South Carolina.
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