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Saundra Swain
                                                       University of North Carolina at Wilmington
                                                       Department of Biology and Marine Biology
                                                                                     BioL366-204
                                                                                   Bradley Parnell


 A Comparisonof the OA Layers and the Number of Pine Saplings between an Unburned Forest
                                   and a Burned Forest

Abstract

       In this study of forest ecology, two experiments were performed in order to compare the

composition of burned Long Leaf Pine forests and unburned Long Leaf Pine forests. The

purpose of this study was to discover whether there was a difference in the OA layers of the two

forests as well as whether one of the two forests contained more pine saplings than the other. We

hypothesized that there would be no difference in the number of long leaf pine saplings between

the burned forest and unburned forest and that there would be no difference in the depth of the

OA layer between the burned forest and the unburned forest. After completing this study, we

could not reject either of these hypotheses.

Introduction

       The southeast United States were once densely populated with long-leaf pine forests but

these forests began to decline in number after the arrival of European settlers. The decrease in

the number of natural fires has allowed hardwoods and other trees to invade and begin to

dominate the long-leaf pine forest. Ecologists and land managers have been using controlled fires

as a way to restore the natural balance of the long-leaf forest (Brockway and Lewis 1997). Adult

long-leaf pines are very fire resistant, so regular burning can help maintain or restore a long-leaf

pine forest by burning the less fire-resistant hardwood seedlings and saplings (Outcalt 2008).

Studies also show that controlled burning also significantly decreases the forest floor mass in the

OI and OA layers (Knoepp, et al. 2009).
Swain 2


       This goal of this study is to compare the OA layers and the number of pine saplings

between two forests on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington campus; one forest has

not been burned in over twenty years, while the other forest is regularly burned in order to

conserve the long-leaf pine forest. This study tested these hypotheses: there is no difference

between the OA layer of an unburned forest and a burned forest and that there is no difference in

the number of saplings between an unburned forest and a burned forest.



Materials and Methods

       To test the hypothesis that there is no difference in the number of long leaf pine saplings

between the burned forest and the unburned forest, we took ten steps into the burned forest near

the Cultural Arts building at UNCW. We then threw a Frisbee marked with an arrow to

randomly choose quadrat location and direction. Our first quadrat began ten steps from the

Frisbee in the direction indicated by the arrow. This quadrat, and all subsequent quadrats, was

measured using a tape measure into 2m x 4m rectangles and marked with flags. We then counted

the number of pine saplings within the quadrat by measuring the diameter of each pine tree; any

tree that I could put my hand around and touch my middle finger to my thumb was counted as a

sapling. We then tossed the Frisbee again and took ten steps from the Frisbee in the direction of

the arrow to establish the next quadrat. This process was repeated until data was collected from

ten quadrats. When our path led to a forest edge or trail, we turned into the forest and took ten

steps, then threw the Frisbee and took ten steps in the direction of the arrow and established the

next quadrat at that point. We then went to the unburned forest and repeated the process until

data was collected from an additional ten quadrats. The data testing the sapling hypothesis was
Swain 3


analyzed using the Chi-squared test with a p value of p<0.05 and the Yate’s Correction for the

Chi-squared test.

       To test the hypothesis that there is no difference in the depth of the OA layer between the

burned forest and the unburned forest, we took ten steps into the same burned forest and threw a

Frisbee to determine the direction of the transect. We took ten steps from the Frisbee in the

direction of the arrow and used a soil tube to measure the full depth of the OA layer at that point.

We then took ten steps from this point in the direction indicated by the Frisbee thrown at the

beginning and took another measurement of the OA layer at this point. We repeated this method

until data was collected from ten points along the transect. When our path led to a forest edge or

trail, we turned into the forest and took ten steps, then threw the Frisbee and took ten steps in the

direction of the arrow and took the next sample at that point; using the direction of the arrow as

the direction of the transect. We then went to the unburned forest and repeated the process until

data was collected from an additional ten points. We then analyzed the data collected for the OA

layer hypothesis to calculate the range, mean, and standard deviation. We used this data to

perform a t-test and Shapiro-Wilk test.

Results

   In comparison of the burned forest and the unburned forest, it was found that the evidence

failed to reject the null hypothesis that there would be no significant difference between OA

layers of the two forest types (d.f. =18, p=0.5337, t=-0.6345) (see Table 3). Further analysis

shows the burned forest having an OA layer range of 7.5 cm, a mean 16.85 cm, and a standard

deviation of 2.31. The unburned forest was represented by an OA layer range of 12 cm, a mean

of 16 cm, and a standard deviation of 3.55 (see Table 1). The data collected found that according

to the Shapiro-Wilk test, there is not enough evidence to reject our null hypothesis that there
Swain 4


would be a normal distribution in the OA layer between the unburned forest (W=0.928, p=0.429)

and the burned forest (W=0.855, p=0.066) (see Table 2).

   Our sapling comparisons using the Chi-Square test (χ2 < 3.84, where p < 0.05, and d.f. = 1),

showed that there was not enough evidence to reject our null hypothesis that there was no

difference between the unburned forest and the burned forest (χ2 = 3, p > 0.05, d.f. =1). The

Yate’s Correction of the Chi-Square Test further supports our results found for sapling

differences between the unburned forest and the burned forest (χ2 = 1.34, p > 0.05, d.f. = 1) (see

Table 4 and Figure 1).

Discussion

       The evidence collected in this study did not allow us to reject our hypothesis that there

would be no difference between the OA layers between the burned forest and the unburned

forest. While multiple studies suggest that the OA layer in the burned forest should be smaller

than that of the unburned forest, our results failed to support this conclusion and when comparing

the means, it could be suggested that the burned forest had a larger OA layer than the unburned

forest (see Table 1). One possibility to explain this result is that the burned forest has not been

recently burned, allowing organic matter to collect. A study by Jose M. Vose and Wayne T.

Swank suggest that their results were similar; their study showed a difference in the OI layer, but

not in the OA layer. Vose suggests that the fires were not severe enough to affect the OA layer;

perhaps this also occurred in our forest (Vose and Swank 1993).

       The evidence collected in this study also did not allow us to reject our other hypothesis

that there would be no difference in the number of pine saplings between the burned forest and

the unburned forest. The Chi-squared test result shown in Table 4 is small, indicating that there is

no difference in the number of pine saplings between the two forests. These results may also be
Swain 5


explained by the lack of recent burning and possible low severity burns. However, one

alternative explanation is that the burns were carried out in the wrong season. If the oaks in the

forest were still seedlings when the forest was burned, they may have resprouted. Along this

same idea, if the hardwoods were too mature when the forest was burned, they may have already

thickened their bark and become more fire resistant (Moser and Wade 2005).

Acknowledgements

        I would like to acknowledge my lab partners Sarah Dixon, Brenda Quebec, and Luke

Roberts for their help designing the experiments and collecting and analyzing the data. I would

also like to thank Bradley Parnell for helping us in the forest and reviewing calculations and

drafts of this report.

Literature Cited

Brockway, Dale G. and Clifford E. Lewis. 1997. Long-term effects of dormant-season prescribed
      fire on plant community diversity, structure and productivity in a longleaf pine wiregrass
      ecosystem. Forest Ecology and Management 96: 167-183.

Knoepp, J.D., K.J. Elliot, B.D. Clinton, and J.M. Vose. 2009. Effects of prescribed fire in mixed
      oak forests of the southern Appalachians: forest floor, soil, and soil solution nitrogen
      responses. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136.3: 380-391.

Moser, Keith W. and Dale D. Wade. 2005. Fire exclusion as a disturbance in the temperate
       forests of the USA: Examples from longleaf pine forests. Scandinavian Journal of Forest
       Research20.6: 17-26.

Outcalt, Kenneth W. 2008. Lightning, fire and longleaf pine: Using natural disturbance to guide
       management. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 3351-3359.

Vose, James M. and Wayne T. Swank. 1993. Site preparation burning to improve southern
       Appalachian pine-hardwood stands: aboveground biomass, forest floor mass, and
       nitrogen and carbon pools. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 23: 2255-2262.
Swain 6




Tables

Table 1 - Descriptive Statistics for depth of OA layer in burned and unburned forests in cm

                        Unburned      Burned
                         Forest       Forest
         Mean              16          16.85
         Range               12         7.5
         Standard            3.55      2.31
         Deviation
         Sample Size         10         10



Table 2 – Shapiro-Wilk test for depth of OA layer in burned and unburned forests

                       Unburned       Burned
                        Forest        Forest
         W value        0.928          0.855
         P value        0.429          0.066



Table 3 – Results of T-test for OA layer depth

         p-value    0.5337
         df         18
         t-value    0.6345


Table 4 – Chi squared test results for number of pine saplings

         χ2                   3
         df                   1
         Yates correction     1.34
         p                    >.05
Swain 7




Figures

Figure 1- Depth of OA layer in burned and unburned Long Leaf Pine forest

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Ecology lab report

  • 1. Saundra Swain University of North Carolina at Wilmington Department of Biology and Marine Biology BioL366-204 Bradley Parnell A Comparisonof the OA Layers and the Number of Pine Saplings between an Unburned Forest and a Burned Forest Abstract In this study of forest ecology, two experiments were performed in order to compare the composition of burned Long Leaf Pine forests and unburned Long Leaf Pine forests. The purpose of this study was to discover whether there was a difference in the OA layers of the two forests as well as whether one of the two forests contained more pine saplings than the other. We hypothesized that there would be no difference in the number of long leaf pine saplings between the burned forest and unburned forest and that there would be no difference in the depth of the OA layer between the burned forest and the unburned forest. After completing this study, we could not reject either of these hypotheses. Introduction The southeast United States were once densely populated with long-leaf pine forests but these forests began to decline in number after the arrival of European settlers. The decrease in the number of natural fires has allowed hardwoods and other trees to invade and begin to dominate the long-leaf pine forest. Ecologists and land managers have been using controlled fires as a way to restore the natural balance of the long-leaf forest (Brockway and Lewis 1997). Adult long-leaf pines are very fire resistant, so regular burning can help maintain or restore a long-leaf pine forest by burning the less fire-resistant hardwood seedlings and saplings (Outcalt 2008). Studies also show that controlled burning also significantly decreases the forest floor mass in the OI and OA layers (Knoepp, et al. 2009).
  • 2. Swain 2 This goal of this study is to compare the OA layers and the number of pine saplings between two forests on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington campus; one forest has not been burned in over twenty years, while the other forest is regularly burned in order to conserve the long-leaf pine forest. This study tested these hypotheses: there is no difference between the OA layer of an unburned forest and a burned forest and that there is no difference in the number of saplings between an unburned forest and a burned forest. Materials and Methods To test the hypothesis that there is no difference in the number of long leaf pine saplings between the burned forest and the unburned forest, we took ten steps into the burned forest near the Cultural Arts building at UNCW. We then threw a Frisbee marked with an arrow to randomly choose quadrat location and direction. Our first quadrat began ten steps from the Frisbee in the direction indicated by the arrow. This quadrat, and all subsequent quadrats, was measured using a tape measure into 2m x 4m rectangles and marked with flags. We then counted the number of pine saplings within the quadrat by measuring the diameter of each pine tree; any tree that I could put my hand around and touch my middle finger to my thumb was counted as a sapling. We then tossed the Frisbee again and took ten steps from the Frisbee in the direction of the arrow to establish the next quadrat. This process was repeated until data was collected from ten quadrats. When our path led to a forest edge or trail, we turned into the forest and took ten steps, then threw the Frisbee and took ten steps in the direction of the arrow and established the next quadrat at that point. We then went to the unburned forest and repeated the process until data was collected from an additional ten quadrats. The data testing the sapling hypothesis was
  • 3. Swain 3 analyzed using the Chi-squared test with a p value of p<0.05 and the Yate’s Correction for the Chi-squared test. To test the hypothesis that there is no difference in the depth of the OA layer between the burned forest and the unburned forest, we took ten steps into the same burned forest and threw a Frisbee to determine the direction of the transect. We took ten steps from the Frisbee in the direction of the arrow and used a soil tube to measure the full depth of the OA layer at that point. We then took ten steps from this point in the direction indicated by the Frisbee thrown at the beginning and took another measurement of the OA layer at this point. We repeated this method until data was collected from ten points along the transect. When our path led to a forest edge or trail, we turned into the forest and took ten steps, then threw the Frisbee and took ten steps in the direction of the arrow and took the next sample at that point; using the direction of the arrow as the direction of the transect. We then went to the unburned forest and repeated the process until data was collected from an additional ten points. We then analyzed the data collected for the OA layer hypothesis to calculate the range, mean, and standard deviation. We used this data to perform a t-test and Shapiro-Wilk test. Results In comparison of the burned forest and the unburned forest, it was found that the evidence failed to reject the null hypothesis that there would be no significant difference between OA layers of the two forest types (d.f. =18, p=0.5337, t=-0.6345) (see Table 3). Further analysis shows the burned forest having an OA layer range of 7.5 cm, a mean 16.85 cm, and a standard deviation of 2.31. The unburned forest was represented by an OA layer range of 12 cm, a mean of 16 cm, and a standard deviation of 3.55 (see Table 1). The data collected found that according to the Shapiro-Wilk test, there is not enough evidence to reject our null hypothesis that there
  • 4. Swain 4 would be a normal distribution in the OA layer between the unburned forest (W=0.928, p=0.429) and the burned forest (W=0.855, p=0.066) (see Table 2). Our sapling comparisons using the Chi-Square test (χ2 < 3.84, where p < 0.05, and d.f. = 1), showed that there was not enough evidence to reject our null hypothesis that there was no difference between the unburned forest and the burned forest (χ2 = 3, p > 0.05, d.f. =1). The Yate’s Correction of the Chi-Square Test further supports our results found for sapling differences between the unburned forest and the burned forest (χ2 = 1.34, p > 0.05, d.f. = 1) (see Table 4 and Figure 1). Discussion The evidence collected in this study did not allow us to reject our hypothesis that there would be no difference between the OA layers between the burned forest and the unburned forest. While multiple studies suggest that the OA layer in the burned forest should be smaller than that of the unburned forest, our results failed to support this conclusion and when comparing the means, it could be suggested that the burned forest had a larger OA layer than the unburned forest (see Table 1). One possibility to explain this result is that the burned forest has not been recently burned, allowing organic matter to collect. A study by Jose M. Vose and Wayne T. Swank suggest that their results were similar; their study showed a difference in the OI layer, but not in the OA layer. Vose suggests that the fires were not severe enough to affect the OA layer; perhaps this also occurred in our forest (Vose and Swank 1993). The evidence collected in this study also did not allow us to reject our other hypothesis that there would be no difference in the number of pine saplings between the burned forest and the unburned forest. The Chi-squared test result shown in Table 4 is small, indicating that there is no difference in the number of pine saplings between the two forests. These results may also be
  • 5. Swain 5 explained by the lack of recent burning and possible low severity burns. However, one alternative explanation is that the burns were carried out in the wrong season. If the oaks in the forest were still seedlings when the forest was burned, they may have resprouted. Along this same idea, if the hardwoods were too mature when the forest was burned, they may have already thickened their bark and become more fire resistant (Moser and Wade 2005). Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge my lab partners Sarah Dixon, Brenda Quebec, and Luke Roberts for their help designing the experiments and collecting and analyzing the data. I would also like to thank Bradley Parnell for helping us in the forest and reviewing calculations and drafts of this report. Literature Cited Brockway, Dale G. and Clifford E. Lewis. 1997. Long-term effects of dormant-season prescribed fire on plant community diversity, structure and productivity in a longleaf pine wiregrass ecosystem. Forest Ecology and Management 96: 167-183. Knoepp, J.D., K.J. Elliot, B.D. Clinton, and J.M. Vose. 2009. Effects of prescribed fire in mixed oak forests of the southern Appalachians: forest floor, soil, and soil solution nitrogen responses. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136.3: 380-391. Moser, Keith W. and Dale D. Wade. 2005. Fire exclusion as a disturbance in the temperate forests of the USA: Examples from longleaf pine forests. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research20.6: 17-26. Outcalt, Kenneth W. 2008. Lightning, fire and longleaf pine: Using natural disturbance to guide management. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 3351-3359. Vose, James M. and Wayne T. Swank. 1993. Site preparation burning to improve southern Appalachian pine-hardwood stands: aboveground biomass, forest floor mass, and nitrogen and carbon pools. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 23: 2255-2262.
  • 6. Swain 6 Tables Table 1 - Descriptive Statistics for depth of OA layer in burned and unburned forests in cm Unburned Burned Forest Forest Mean 16 16.85 Range 12 7.5 Standard 3.55 2.31 Deviation Sample Size 10 10 Table 2 – Shapiro-Wilk test for depth of OA layer in burned and unburned forests Unburned Burned Forest Forest W value 0.928 0.855 P value 0.429 0.066 Table 3 – Results of T-test for OA layer depth p-value 0.5337 df 18 t-value 0.6345 Table 4 – Chi squared test results for number of pine saplings χ2 3 df 1 Yates correction 1.34 p >.05
  • 7. Swain 7 Figures Figure 1- Depth of OA layer in burned and unburned Long Leaf Pine forest