Restoring Ponderosa Pine Forests in the Black Hills, South Dakota

TitleRestoring Ponderosa Pine Forests in the Black Hills, South Dakota
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWienk, CL
Academic DepartmentDepartment of Renewable Natural Resources
DegreeMaster of Science
Number of Pages50
UniversityUniversity of Arizona
Keywordsblack hills, fire history, overstory, pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine, prescribed fire, restoring, soil seed bank, south dakota, stand age, understory

Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) forests have changed considerably during the past century, partly because recurrent fires have been absent for a century or more. In dense stands of ponderosa pine in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a layer of pine needles has replaced inderstory vegetation. I examined the disturbance history, soil seed bank, and effects of prescribed burning and overstory reduction on understory vegetation in a ponderosa pine stand in the northern Black Hills. Cessation of fires, prolific ponderosa pine regeneration, and logging led to a dense, even-aged stand with very little understory vegetation and few viable seeds in the soil seed bank. Understory vegetation did not respond to the restoration treatments the first growing season, but did respond the second growing season. Paucity of viable seeds in the soil seed bank does not appear to constrain recruitment of understory vegetation in dense ponderosa pine forests of South Dakota.