Skip to main content

Goal: Sustain Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands Dynamics of Longleaf Pine Cone Production in the Southeastern United States

Dale Brockway collecting longleaf pine cone data

SRS has monitored longleaf pine cone production in stands on the Escambia Experimental Forest since 1958. Photo by Yoko Brockway, USDA Forest Service volunteer.


Longleaf pine cone production is the result of complex interactions between trees and their environment. Multiscale entropy reflects the complex flow of information among these many ecosystem parts.


Longleaf pine seed production is highly variable from year to year. The uncertainty complicates natural regeneration and the production of seedlings in forest tree nurseries for restoration plantings. Cone production is considered to be related to weather conditions, but the relationship is complex and no general models have been created. However, we can use the variability of cone production across years, at many different sites, to gain a better understanding of the complexity of factors influencing cone (and seed) production.

Using a method of multiscale entropy, long-term cone crop data for longleaf pine were analyzed at six sites across the Southern Region. The entropy of cone production for longleaf pine forests showed high linear correlation at all sites, increasing slowly through time, but remaining within 1.28 to 1.77. With similar dynamics at all sites, joint entropy reflected an emergent pattern for entropy across the southern region. Using information theory, our analysis of entropy provides a useful approach for characterizing ecosystem dynamics by information flow in adaptive ecosystem management.

Principal Investigator
Dale Brockway, Research Ecologist
4158 - Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Entropy dynamics in cone production of longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States
Research Partners
Q. Guo, SRS RWU-4854
Kisatchie National Forest
External Partners
X. Chen, Alabama A&M University
T.R. Miller Woodlands Company, AL
J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center, GA
Eglin Air Force Base, FL
Blackwater River State Forest, FL
Sandhills State Forest, SC