Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas were once dominant across the southeastern U.S., including East Texas and parts of western and central Louisiana. The diverse understory associated with these historical savannas may occasionally be seen today, but not often in longleaf pine ecosystems. This project aimed to define east Texas site characteristics that are necessary to support these ecosystems with a dense and diverse herbaceous understory with little to no midstory cover. Fifty-nine plots across three study sites were established to evaluate the influence of overstory cover, basal area, aspect, elevation, and slope on the number of plant genera present. Forest structure and site characteristics had significant effects on the number of plant genera found. The number of genera increased with higher elevation and slope; as elevation increased, there was a decline in basal area and overstory cover, leading to a more diverse, understory layer. In order to re-establish and maintain a diverse, herbaceous understory in longleaf pine savannas, sites with more open canopies and on slopes with the most solar exposure should be given priority, particularly when planting desired understory species.
McCalip, Brooke; Oswald, Brian; Kidd, Kathryn R.; Weng, Yuhi; and Farrish, Kenneth PhD, "Site Factors Influence on Herbaceous Understory Diversity in East Texas Pinus palustris savannas" (2018). Faculty Publications. 479.
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