Oak Landscapes 3
An Auburn University-led study published in BioScience re-examines the role of mesophication, the commonly held hypothesis that fire exclusion is responsible for the declining prominence of oak landscapes in the U.S. Shown is an upland oak forest after several prescribed fires and deadening of midstory mesophytes with herbicide at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Mississippi. With greater light reaching the ground, more diverse groundcover of legumes, wild sunflowers and grasses develops, improving wildlife habitat quality. Photo courtesy of Steve Brewer.