Fire History and Its Implications for an Endemic Fire-Dependent Herb (Il-Iamna Corei Sherff.) of the Appalachian Mountains

By Lafon, Charles W.; Hoss, Jennifer A. et al. | Endangered Species Update, January-June 2009 | Go to article overview

Fire History and Its Implications for an Endemic Fire-Dependent Herb (Il-Iamna Corei Sherff.) of the Appalachian Mountains


Lafon, Charles W., Hoss, Jennifer A., GrissinoMayer, Henri D., Aldrich, Serena R., DeWeese, Georgina G., Endangered Species Update


Abstract

The Peters Mountain mallow is a fire-dependent herbaceous plant species endemic to Peters Mountain, Virginia. Its population declined over the twentieth century, likely because of fire exclusion. We used fire-scarred trees to reconstruct the fire history of Peters Mountain (Hoss et al. 2008) and found that fires occurred frequently in the past, before fire protection became commonly practiced. The mean fire interval for the site was 2.5 years, and most fires occurred during the dormant season (spring or fall). Fire frequency is lower today. In 2005, at the time of our fieldwork, 29 years had elapsed since the last fire. The results suggest the need to reintroduce fire to restore the Peters Mountain mallow and its habitat.

Introduction

In 1989, the entire known wild population of the Peters Mountain mallow (Iliamna corei Sherff.) comprised only three individuals (Baskin and Baskin 1997), making it one of the rarest plant species on earth. Apparently, the species was never abundant. When discovered in 1927, the population of the perennial herb included about 50 plants growing on thin, rocky soils among widely spaced trees (Strausbaugh and Core 1932) on the western end of Peters Mountain, Virginia. About 40 individuals remained in 1962 (Keener and Hardin 1962), and at some point thereafter the population plummeted to the low level recorded in 1989.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Autecological work (Baskin and Baskin 1997) revealed a large bank of dormant, water-impermeable mallow seeds that require heating by fire to germinate. The plants also resprout after burning, and because of their shade intolerance they need fire to maintain an open, well lit habitat. These life-history traits appear to suit the mallow to a short fire interval, likely on the order of only a few years (Hoss et al. 2008; cf. Rowe 1983). But fire prevention and suppression efforts had begun to reduce the frequency of fire in the Appalachian region by the 1940s and 1950s (Sarvis 1993). Fire exclusion is thought to have contributed to the decline of the mallow population (Caljouw et al. 1994). The Nature Conservancy purchased the habitat of the endangered Peters Mountain mallow in 1992 and began experimental burns, which resulted in a larger mallow population that has fluctuated annually in the number of individuals present (Edwards and Allen 2003). Restoring the Peters Mountain mallow and its habitat requires an understanding of the historic fire regime(s) under which the plants throve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A study of fire history on Peters Mountain

We cut and dated cross-sections from 73 fire-scarred pine trees within a 40 ha area surrounding the mallows. We also cored all the trees growing in two plots that were situated near the mallows to illuminate how changing fire activity affected tree establishment in the vicinity of the mallows. Hoss et al. (2008) report the study in detail.

The trees recorded 53 fires during the period 1794-2005. Between 1867 (the first year with two or more scarred trees) and 1976 (the last year recording a fire), the mean fire interval was 2.5 years. That is, at least part (but not

necessarily all) of the area burned every 2-3 years. We also calculated a more conservative estimate of fire frequency: large fires that scarred at least 25% of the trees across the study area occurred about every 12.5 years. Most (93.6%) of the fire scars formed while the trees were dormant (i.e., scars are positioned between the annual rings), suggesting that the fires occurred during the spring or fall; fires rarely burn in the Appalachian Mountains during winter (Lafon et al. 2005).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Fire frequency remained high through the 1940s, then declined (Figure 1), probably because of fire prevention/suppression.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fire History and Its Implications for an Endemic Fire-Dependent Herb (Il-Iamna Corei Sherff.) of the Appalachian Mountains
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.