Logging as a Pretreatment or Surrogate for Fire in Restoring Florida Scrub


Carl W. Weekley

Additional Authors:

Eric S. Menges, Ala¨a L. Craddock, Rebecca Yahr,


March 2013


restoration ecology, endemic species, Lake Wales Ridge, timber harvest, endangered species. INTRODUCTION

ABSTRACT Logging has recently been used as a restoration tool in Florida scrub, a pyrogenic shrubland ecosystem that often develops a pine canopy in the absence of fire. We studied the effects of logging and fire, alone and in combination, on fire-suppressed Florida scrub on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. Restoration goals were both structural (reduce pine canopy, hardwood subcanopy, shrub stem density; increase bare sand) and compositional (increase rare plant occupancy and forb diversity). In 2- and 5-yr posttreatment surveys, all treatments significantly reduced pine density and the hardwood subcanopy relative to the control, but no treatment was successful in reducing shrub stem densities. Burning alone exposed sandy substrate for forb recruitment, but the logging treatments created significantly larger areas of bare sand. Treatments had little effect on species richness and rare species abundance, but two rare species recruited into logged plots. The weak treatment effects on forbs likely reflect the long period of fire suppression, a pattern seen in other studies. All treatments, especially logging, increased graminoid occupancy; although the log-and-burn treatment initially increased forb occupancy, the effect was short-lived. The most significant effects of logging were large-scale soil disturbance and increased graminoid abundance. Overall, both fire and logging achieved most short-term (2–4 yr) management goals. However, the large-scale soil disturbance caused by logging may facilitate invasion of exotics and ruderals and limit the effectiveness of prescribed burning. We conclude that fire continues to be the best practice for restoration of Florida scrub.