The effects of prescribed fire on herbaceous plant community composition and tree seedling density in a mature oak forest : Hoosier National Forest, Pleasant Run Unit, Jackson County, Indiana
A stratified sampling method was used to study the effects of two prescribed fires on a 250-acre section at the northwest end of Fork Ridge, Hoosier National Forest, in the spring of 1993 and 1995. An unburned area at the southeast end of Fork Ridge, adjacent to the burned area, and with similar forest communities, was used as a control area. Three growing seasons after the last fire, the burned area exhibited noticeable differences in understory vegetation. Herbaceous species diversity and richness, total herb cover on mesic sites, and mean percent cover and relative frequency for mesic-site, shade-tolerant species were greater on the burned area than on the unburned area. Dry-site, shade-intolerant tree seedlings including scarlet oak (Quercus Coccina), chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), sassafras (Sassafras albi dum), and tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) had higher relative frequency in the burned area, while shade-tolerant flowering dogwood (Cornus Florida) had lower relative frequency.