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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Vegetation composition of early successional longleaf conservation priority area fields in southern Georgia
Year: 2002
Author(s): Gates, B. J., Carroll, J. P., Cooper, R. J.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 120
Original Publication:  
Abstract: It has been documented that the longleaf pine ecosystem is essential habiat for many species of wildlife and the ecosystem’s distribution has dramatically decreased since European settlement of North America. Changes to the Farm Bill in 1998 established a National Longleaf Pine Conservation Area (CPA) within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with a goal of restoring the longleaf pine ecosystem. In this CPA, longleaf pine is planted on private lands in former agricultural fields. The understory of longleaf pine ecosystem is traditionally comprised of a variety of fire resistant and native grasses and forbs. however, invasive and often exotic, agricultural pests such as Bermudagrass and coffee weed could easoly dominate old-field longleaf pine stands and could make these stands less valuable for wildlife. Regulations within this CPA require that these pest species be controlled; however this is very difficult in practical terms. We monitored vegetation during May to July 2001 in 41 recently established (6 months to 3 years) longleaf pine stands in South Georgia to assess ground vegetation. We measured vegetation density, composition, percent coverage of grasses, forbs, shrubs/saplings, bare ground, and debris, and average pine sapling height. In addition, certain species were identified and quantified in each field including Bermudagrass, broom sedge, bahia grass, crab grass, and coffee weed. Our preliminary results suggest that the majority of the field’s vegetative understory was composed of forbs (31.7%). In many cases, coffee weed was a major component of the forb content occurring in over 23% of all plots surveyed. Grass composed 21.8% of the field’s understory, with Bermudagrass being the most abundant grass species (in 18% of the plots surveyed). Other exotic grass species, bahia grass and crab grass, were not as common, occurring in only 4.7% and 5.3% of the plots surveyed respectively. The only native grass surveyed, broom sedge, occurred in only 1.6% of the plots surveyed.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall