The influence of summer wildfires versus winter controlled burns on forest composttion [sic] on Sapleo Island, Georgia
Vodas, Nathan Ryan
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Controlled burns have been recently implemented on Sapelo Island, Georgia, to try to prevent wildfires. This study compares vegetation differences between summer wildfires started by lightning and winter control burns set by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources over the past six years. Thirty 10 X 25m control burn plots and ten 50X 25m wildfire plots were set up to see if vegetation composition in the overstory and understory changed following fire. Few measurable differences were seen between fire types, while year of burn had more meaningful results. Saw palmetto showed no statistical differences between fire types, while difference between years showed significant differences likely due to competition for light. Laurel oak is shade tolerant and was able to make it through the understory during the fire suppression era. With the reintroduction of controlled fire laurel oak should start to decrease. Species diversity increased on overstory plots with rapidly change occurring on wildfire plots.