Eastern White Pine Establishment in the Oak Landscape of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, Southern Appalachian Mountains


Scott R. Arbella

Additional Authors:

Victor B. Shelburne


September – 2003


White Pine, Ellicott Rock, Souhtern Appalachian Mountains

Changing disturbance regimes, particularly decreasing fire frequencies, may result in distributional changes of species across southern Appalachian landscapes. Some researchers have hypothesized that Pinus strobus (eastern white pine) is undergoing a change in site affinity from mesic to xeric sites in southern Appalachian forests, but no studies have evaluated the landscape-level status of P. strobus. We examined the status of P. strobus in a 225-ha old-growth Quercus landscape within the Ellicott Rock Wilderness (ERW) in South Carolina by sampling 80 plots. Pinus strobus exhibited the highest mean density (267 trees ha-1) of all species in the 1-10 cm diameter class, with 96% of the P. strobus currently in these Quercus forests establishing since 1950. Density of P. strobus in the 1-10 cm diameter class was most highly correlated with P. strobus density >10 cm diameter, and was not strongly correlated with other measured vegetation variables such as total Quercus basal area. Results support the hypothesis that P. strobus is expanding its distribution to upland sites in the southern Appalachians. It is possible that the current P. strobus vegetation type observed in the ERW represents a vegetation type that historically would have occurred more extensively had it not been inhibited by Native American or lightning-caused fires.