Vascular Flora of Longleaf Pine Woodlands after Wind Disturbance and Salvage Harvesting in the Alabama Fall Line Hills


Jonathan S. Kleinman

Additional Authors:

Justin L. Hart


Sept 2018


Fall Line Hills, floristic composition, longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, salvage, wind.

ABSTRACT The Oakmulgee District of the Talladega National Forest is the largest remnant of the endangered longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem in Alabama. A partial floristic survey using nested plots and survey plots was conducted May–July 2016 in longleaf pine woodlands of the Oakmulgee District that were differentially impacted by a 27 April 2011 EF3 tornado and a subsequent salvage harvesting operation. Vascular plants were identified and ranked by frequency of occurrence (rare, occasional, common, and abundant) in three disturbance categories: undisturbed, wind-disturbed, and compound-disturbed (wind-disturbed and salvage harvested). Overall, 192 plant taxa in 68 families and 137 genera were documented. Plant taxonomic richness was lowest on undisturbed sites (90 taxa), greatest on wind-disturbed sites (160 taxa), and reduced on compound disturbed sites (126 taxa). Although salvage harvesting reduced taxonomic richness, 46 of the 48 plant taxa unique to unharvested wind-disturbed sites were rare (occurred on <10% of nested plots). Moreover, undisturbed sites had only nine unique taxa, of which eight were rare. Decisions on whether to salvage harvest must consider the ecological significance of these rare plants. Wind- and compound-disturbed areas may recover toward predisturbance conditions, and the floristic list presented here provides the baseline to monitor this succession. The documented floristic composition also provides insight on short-term responses of vascular plants to differential disturbance impacts in an understudied region of the longleaf pine ecosystem.