Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

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Josh Byers
Josh Byers

Prescribed Fire in Upland Oak Forests: Impacts on Canopy Cover, Organic Layer, and Seedling Density

Josh Byers, senior Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation major, studied how canopy cover and depth of the soil organic layer could affect seedling density. Upland hardwood forests are beginning to shift from predominantly oak forests, to more competitive, shade tolerant species due to lack of fire in the ecosystem. Prescribed fire should help eliminate the seedlings of shade tolerant species that are out-competing oak seedlings, as well as increase understory light and reduce the soil organic layer. After analyzing the results of my experiment, out of the six sites, we concluded that: Single fire had minimal impact on canopy cover, multiple fires reduced canopy cover by 10%, both single and multiple fires reduced SOL depth, and finally, single fires had no impact on oak densities compared to unburned plots, but increased red maple densities. The analysis of the results suggests that with fire, oaks cannot compete with shade tolerant species.


News / Recognition

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Katherine Abell, a wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture major, and Zachary Senneff, a forestry major, were among the winners of the 2014 MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. Abell placed first in the community engagement and social sciences categories and Senneff placed second in the biological sciences and engineering category.

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