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 February 1, 2015 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 February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) For the second time in two months, a rare weather phenomenon filled the Grand Canyon with thick clouds just below the rim on Wednesday. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 29, 2015) Time lapse video captures a blanket of clouds amassing in the Grand Canyon -- the result of a rare meteorological process called "cloud inversion." Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
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