Fell-and-burn Regeneration in the North Georgia Piedmont: Effects on Wildlife Habitat and Small Mammals

The fell-and-burn site preparation technique is an effective means of regenerating low-quality hardwood stands to pine-hardwood mixtures in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In this region, pine-hardwood mixtures offer a compromise between the benefits of hardwood management to wildlife and the economic benefits of pine management. However, the fell-and-burn technique has not been tested in the Piedmont and other regions. This study compared the effects of several variations of the fell-and-burn technique on small mammal communities and wildlife habitat in the upper Piedmont of Georgia during the first year following treatment. Results indicate that high-severity fires may damage site quality. All site preparation treatments produced more forage biomass and richer, more populous small mammal communities than did unharvested controls. Unburned, felled sites supported more forage biomass and more species of small mammals. Burning without felling resulted in the highest forb production, while felling and burning supported the most diverse plant community and highest numbers of small mammals.

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