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Goal: Apply Knowledge Globally Longleaf pine pollen and cone production

Researchers using binoculars to collect longleaf pine cone data

Dale Brockway collecting longleaf pine cone data. (Courtesy photo by Yoko Brockway)


Longleaf pine cone production is varies from year to year. Cone production is likely reflects adaptation to local environments rather than synchronization across a broad landscape. The long-term trend of rising temperatures may alter ratios of pollen to conelets, the male and female tree parts.


The historic decline of longleaf pine forests in the southeastern U.S. has spurred efforts to restore these valuable ecosystems. Longleaf pines produce seeds sporadically, which complicates restoration and management efforts. Analyses of long-term datasets for pollen and cone production at multiple sites across the South have provided new insights concerning this natural variation. For example, Taylor’s power law relates the average and variance of cone production through time, and identifies sites of consistently higher cone production. Sites with high cone production are very likely due to the combination of inherent biological traits and their interactions with the local environment.

Occasionally, populations across the broader landscape synchronize, producing similar crops across the region. Pollen and cone production are related to weather and climate, but these relationships are complex and difficult to model. Temperature affects the ratio of conelets to pollen, with higher temperatures leading to higher ratios and subsequently fewer conelets. Long-term increases in temperature could have a negative influence on longleaf pine cone and seed production. However, the effects of climate change will likely vary across the region. Successful management strategies should be flexible in adjusting to the natural variation of longleaf pine forests.

Principal Investigators
Dale Brockway, Research Ecologist
Qinfeng Guo, Research Ecologist
4158 - Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
4854 - Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Temperature-related sex allocation shifts in a recovering keystone species, Pinus palustris
Characterizing the dynamics of cone production for longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States
Power laws in cone production of longleaf pine across its native range in the United States
CompassLive Story
Climate Influences Male-Female Balance in Longleaf Pines
Research Partner
Kisatchie National Forest, Pineville, LA
External Partners
Xiongwen Chen, Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL
U.S. Air Force, Niceville, FL
Florida Forest Service, Munson, FL
T.R. Miller Woodlands Company, Brewton, AL
J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Newton, GA
Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL
South Carolina Forestry Commission, Patrick, SC