Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists Suspect Lightning Fires Help Preserve Oak Forests

Date:
December 15, 2006
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
Oak forests may be approaching extinction, but lightning fires may play a vital role in their regeneration, according to Case Western Reserve University biologists.

Oak forests may be approaching extinction but lightning fires may play a vital role in their regeneration, according to Case Western Reserve University biologists.

Related Articles


Paul Drewa, assistant professor in Case's biology department, and graduate student Sheryl Petersen, suspect that these kinds of fires may provide a natural mechanism to deter encroachment of shade tolerant hardwoods, especially red maples that are crowding out oaks and other plants on the ground floors of numerous forests throughout the eastern United States.

In an article for the April-June issue of the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, the researchers examined regional weather patterns to see if environmental conditions exist for the occurrence of lightning fires in Appalachian forests of Adams and Pike Counties in southern Ohio.

The likelihood of lightning fires increases through the summer when the frequency of lightning strikes reaches its greatest peak in late August, coinciding with dry environmental conditions," said Drewa.

Drewa and Petersen also found that from 1993 to 2005, 29 lightning fires were reported in Ohio's fire protection areas, with 70 percent of those occurring during the summer.

"Human alterations to the natural fire regime, especially decades of fire suppression, have changed oak-dominated ecosystems in southern Ohio and throughout the eastern US," reported Petersen. "As a result, there is a preponderance of shade tolerant hardwoods that are preventing oaks and other native species from regenerating."

The oak canopies of remaining forest fragments are deceptive, according to the researchers, who found that oaks are not thriving well beyond the seedling stage, with few developing into older life history stages, including juveniles, saplings, and poles.

"Eventually this means the demise of oak trees and other less shade tolerant plant species in future years," said Drewa.

While red maples and other shade tolerant species may experience delayed recovery after summer fires, oaks in particular have been shown to experience less damage because their roots are more expansive and provide greater storage and greater seasonal stability of carbohydrate reserves.

To save the oak forests, Drewa and Petersen are advocating studies that include summer fires as experimental treatments. They caution against fires in other seasons that might foster proliferation of plants other than oaks and other less shade tolerant species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Biologists Suspect Lightning Fires Help Preserve Oak Forests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212212632.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2006, December 15). Biologists Suspect Lightning Fires Help Preserve Oak Forests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212212632.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Biologists Suspect Lightning Fires Help Preserve Oak Forests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212212632.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins