Date of Award

11-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Dr. G. Geoff Wang

Committee Member

Dr. William C. Bridges Jr.

Committee Member

Dr. Bo Song

Abstract

Hurricanes have long been powerful and recurring disturbances in many coastal forest ecosystems. Intense hurricanes often produce a large amount of dead fuels within their affected forests, but how post-hurricane fuel complex changes with time, due to decomposition and management such as salvage, and the fire behavior affected by the changed fuel load remains largely unknown. To better understand the fuel and regeneration dynamics, field measurement and modeling were conducted within undamaged stands and hurricane damaged stands, including salvaged and unsalvaged stands in southern pine forests impacted by hurricane Hugo (1989), Opal (1995), Katrina (2005), and Ike (2008). We found that elevated fuel loads of all size classes in damaged stands diminished over time, with smaller size classes diminished faster. Although down woody materials decreased over time, litter and duff depth kept relatively stable due to prescribed burning. The higher fuel loads in all size classes for hurricane Hugo were caused by the absence of prescribed burning, suggesting that prescribed burning, especially when combined with salvage, can greatly reduce the potential fire hazard after hurricane. Although regeneration of local climax species respond positively to the hurricane impacts, prescribed fire had a stronger influence on regeneration pattern than hurricane did. BehavePlus predicted more intense fire behavior in damaged stands, but the intensity decreased over years. Mitigation in hurricane damaged longleaf pine stands greatly reduced fuel loads thus fire hazards, but did not impact the regeneration of longleaf pine.

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