Sustaining oak forests and restoring oak savannas and woodlands are increasingly common management goals in the Midwest and Great Lakes Regions. Sustaining oak forests requires successful regeneration and recruitment into the overstory. The regeneration potential of oak following a disturbance or harvest that initiates stand regeneration is determined largely by the size structure of oak before the event. Collectively, regeneration from (1) seed, (2) advance reproduction, and (3) stump sprouts contribute to oak regeneration but vary in their competitive capacity. Oak regeneration potential is modified by site, competitor regeneration potential and management input.
Prescribed fire is increasingly being used to promote oak regeneration with mixed results, and it is required to restore oak savannas and woodlands. Oak has many silvical traits that make it well adapted to fire. Fire can promote oak regeneration, but it also can reduce it, promote competing vegetation including invasive species, and retard oak recruitment into the overstory. Fire is a tool that can be used to sustain oak forests if it is applied judiciously with knowledge of oak forest ecology and stand dynamics, and with basic forest inventory information. Combining prescribed fire with thinning or harvesting can be effective in increasing oak regeneration potential and dominance in future stands, and it is a good approach to accelerating the restoration of oak savannas and woodlands.
We spoke with Dr. Dan Dey, Research Forester for the USDA Forest Service,
Dr. Dan Dey is a Research Forester for the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, located in Columbia, MO. He is also Project Leader of a research unit that studies the ecology and sustainable management of Central Hardwood Forest ecosystems. Dan’s personal research emphasis is the silviculture of eastern forests. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Missouri, and since then has worked as a research forester for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Missouri Dept of Conservation and the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. Before becoming a scientist, Dan worked as a forester on the Ketchikan Ranger District, Tongass National Forest and the Red River Ranger District, Nez Perce National Forest.
Our guest moderator for this month was David Borneman:
David Borneman has worked as the Natural Area Preservation Manager for the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan since 1993. Among other responsibilities, this includes overseeing the ecological restoration of about 1200 acres of city parkland. David also owns a private ecological consulting business specializing in prescribed burning. He holds a B.S. degree in Outdoor Education/Field Biology from Northland College and an M.S. degree in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from UW-Madison. David's areas of expertise are in using fire to manage natural areas in the Midwest and in urban natural area issues. He serves on the board of The Stewardship Network (President) and formerly served on the boards of the Natural Areas Association and the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council. David was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, and has lived his entire life in the Midwest, except for one year spent teaching school in the Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica.