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The pine rocklands of South Florida are characterized by an herbaceous flora with many narrowly endemic taxa, a diverse shrub layer containing several palms and numerous tropical hardwoods, and an overstory of south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa). Fire has been considered as an important environmental factor for these ecosystems, since in the absence of fire these pine forests are replaced by dense hardwood communities, resulting in loss of the characteristic pineland herb flora. Hence, in the Florida Keys pine forests, prescribed fire has been used since the creation of the National Key Deer Refuge. However, such prescribed burns were conducted in the Refuge mainly for fuel reduction, without much consideration of ecological factors. The USGS and Florida International University conducted a research study for four years, from 1998 to 2001, the objective of which was to document the response of pine rockland vegetation to a range of fire management options and to provide Fish and Wildlife Service and other land managers with information useful in deciding when and where to burn to perpetuate these unique pine forests. This study is described in detail in Snyder et al. (2005).


A report from the South Florida Terrestrial Ecosystems Lab (SOFTEL).



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