Herpetofaunal responses to forest management: a synopsis of findings in oak-hardwood restoration forest stands.This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Globally, biodiversity declines have occurred at alarming rates across a wide array of taxa. Amphibians and reptiles (known collectively as herpetofauna), represent two taxa that have declined considerably over the past three decades. A variety of stressors, including landscape change, habitat destruction, emerging pathogens, illegal collection, and climate change all contribute synergistically to impact herpetofaunal populations. Of these threats, habitat alteration and destruction represent acute stressors that have increased concomitantly with the rise in global human population. Habitat alteration includes a variety of natural and anthropogenic sources of disturbance. Forest management represents a significant form of habitat disturbance that often impacts large portions of the landscape; however, forest management practices involve a variety of vegetation management techniques that can be tailored to mimic regional disturbance regimes. In addition, forest management can be used in a restoration context to restore ecosystem function and forest structure. Our current study evaluated the ecological impacts of forest restoration in pine-dominated forests in the William B. Bankhead National Forest (BNF) located in Lawrence, Winston, and Franklin counties of northwest Alabama. The over-arching goal of the larger project was to evaluate the efficacy of forest management (thinning and prescribed burning) to restore upland loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) dominated stands to historical hardwood (Quercus and Carya) conditions.