The effect of fire on flowering dogwood stand dynamics in Great Smoky Mountains National ParkThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida L.) survival is threatened across most of its range in forests of the eastern United States by dogwood anthracnose, a disease caused by the fungus Discula destructive Redlin. Where anthracnose is present, mortality of dogwood has been severe. Currently, no management techniques exist to reduce impacts of the disease on populations of dogwood. This study examined dogwood in burned and unburned oak-hickory forests in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) to determine if past burning has favored dogwood survival. Stand composition and structure of areas that burned in the 1970s and 1980s were compared to those in unburned areas to determine if dogwood stem density was affected by fire. Heavy dogwood mortality has occurred in unburned areas in western GSMNP over the past two decades. However, dogwood density was greater in areas that burned during the 1970s (232 ± 64 stems/ha) than in unburned areas (54 ± 72 stems/ha; P=0.08). The increase in dogwood stem density in burned plots is likely a result of increased stump sprouting following the fire and the favorable conditions for survival from dogwood anthracnose fire creates. Our results suggest fire may play an important role in dogwood survival from dogwood anthracnose in GSMNP and other areas in the Eastern United States.