Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. Mary Arthur


As a result of decades of fire suppression, oaks (Quercus L.) and other disturbance-dependent tree species are experiencing widespread regeneration failure. Today, fire takes the form of relatively low to moderate intensity prescribed fire, used to restore fire adapted ecosystems, and wildfires which often vary in severity. I investigated long-term changes to forest structure and composition in response to repeated prescribed burning followed by an extended period of no fire. Burning reduced total basal area, midstory stem density and sapling stem density. However, the fire-free interval significantly increased sapling layer stem densities of oaks and competitor species. This research shows that repeated prescribed fire, followed by a fire-free interval, can allow oak seedlings to grow into sapling sized stems, but competitors also increase in density. I also investigated relationships between varying wildfire severity and stand structure, basal area, and tree recruitment. Both stem density and total basal area were significantly and negatively related to fire severity. Oak and pine recruitment was significantly and positively related to fire severity whereas competitors had no relationship. The positive relationships with fire severity and oak or pine sapling recruitment could have important implications for managers using prescribed fire or managing areas after wildfire.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)