The health of loblolly pine stands at Fort Benning, GAThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Approximately two-thirds of the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) (RCW) groups at Fort Benning, GA, depend on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands for nesting or foraging. However, loblolly pine stands are suspected to decline. Forest managers want to replace loblolly pine with longleaf pine (P. palustris), but they must do this gradually to continuously supply RCW habitats. Knowledge of the current decline status and causal factors is therefore needed. We analyzed recent forest inventory data (until 2006) covering 8403 ha of naturally regenerated loblolly pine (LB) and 554 ha of loblolly pine plantations (LBP). Overall, LBP stands were healthier than LB and may be a useful RCW habitat option during a transition period to a landscape with sufficient amount of RCW usable longleaf pine stands. In order to draw conclusions regarding the decline status of loblolly pine forests on a landscape such as Fort Benning, it is necessary to understand natural stand development and dynamics, and to investigate further the causes of decline.