Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Leopold, D. Bruce

Committee Member

Miller, A. Darren

Committee Member

Wang, Guiming

Committee Member

Burger Jr., Wes L.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Prescribed fire and imazapyr are two silviculture tools used to control hardwood midstory competition in intensively managed, mid-rotation pine (Pinus spp.) stands but also may support conservation of biodiversity in the southeastern United States. Therefore, I investigated select measures of biodiversity response, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, carabid beetles, songbirds, and vegetation communities, to fire and imazapyr treatments in intensively managed, mid-rotation pine stands of east-central Mississippi. I used a randomized complete block design of 6 stands (blocks) with 4, 10- ha treatment plots assigned randomly a treatment of burn only, herbicide only, burn + herbicide, or control. I applied dormant season prescribed fires every 3 years beginning in January 2000 and a one-time application of imazapyr in September 1999 using 877 ml/ha (12.0 liquid oz./ac; Arsenal®, BASF 2006). I sampled avifauna, herpetofauna, small mammal, and carabid beetle communities using appropriate sampling techniques for attaining species-specific relative abundance. I also measured vegetation structure and biomass. Vegetation and bird communities exhibited significant responses to treatments. Imazapyr had the greatest initial impact on communities followed by a long-term effect of repeated prescribed fires on a 3 year fire-return interval. Combining fire and imazapyr perpetuated high-quality browse for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), plant species richness, high-priority bird species relative abundances, and diversity of landscape-level vegetation structure and biomass by creating a two-tier vegetation structure (pine canopy and herbaceous understory). Independent treatments also were more effective management approaches to sustain biodiversity than controls by maintaining or increasing overall species richness specifically soon after treatment application. Most responses of other wildlife communities were time-limited suggesting the possibility of greater effects of factors other than treatments such as long-term disturbance regimes (e.g., forest management practices, climate trends), proximity of treatment plots to wetlands, and landscape-level population dynamics including characteristics within and among stands. Combined and independent applications of these treatments will support biodiversity conservation, sustainable forestry objectives, and concomitant timber management goals. Long-term conservation of biodiversity within an intensive timber management matrix also may benefit from future investigations of multiple-herbicide tank mixtures, population dynamics of indicator species, and landscape-level biodiversity responses across multiple strata.