Fuels on disturbed and undisturbed sites in the southern Appalachian Mountains, USA
Fuel distribution in the southern Appalachian Mountain region was measured in over 1000 study plots that were stratified by topographic position (aspect and slop position) and disturbance history. Few fuel differences occurred among topographic positions for undisturbed plots, indicating that fuel accumulation is no greater on highly productive sites than on less productive sites. Litter was slightly higher on undisturbed upper slopes (4.2 t/ha) than on lower slopes (3.7 t/ha) but woody fuels showed no significant differences. Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia L.) were less common than expected, occurring on 25% and 42% of sampled plots, respectively. Disturbance history and type played a greater role in determing fuel loads than did topographic position. Disturbances had occurred on 30% of sample plots within the past 10 years and were most common on exposed slopes. Litter was significantly lower in burned plots (3.5 t/ha) vs 4.0 t/ha in undisturbed plots). One-hour fuels (1.0 t/ha) were significantly higher on beetle-killed plots than on undisturbed plots (0.7 t/ha) while larger woody fuels tended to be greater in plots subjected to beetle attack, fire, and wind.