Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

After years of fire suppression, high intensity forest fires were destructive to surrounding areas. Historically, fire was common in the eastern United States, but was suppressed over the past century, and recently has become a major tool in forest management. But to date, there have been no studies on the influence of fire on mesic sites in the eastern United States. Because fire is being reintroduced as a management practice, it is critical to know the influence of fire in this region. This study seeks to understand the influences of fire on summer and fall herbs in the western mesophytic forest region. Data were collected from 24 plots in three sites at the WKU Upper Green River Biological Preserve, Hart County, Kentucky. Plot treatments were either spring burn or unburned. Two-way ANOVA tests compared species richness, presence of rare and common species, and the density of five individual species in burned and unburned plots. Overall, a spring prescribed fire had little to no effect on summer and fall herbs in study sites. However, two individual species in the fall were significantly influenced by fire, Hydrophyllum canadense, or bluntleaf waterleaf, a native herb to Kentucky, and Glechoma hederacea, or ground ivy an herb invasive to Kentucky. Each was negatively influenced by burning.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Albert Meier

Disciplines

Biology | Forest Sciences | Geography | Plant Sciences