Oak Landscapes 1
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 with a dense sapling and midstory layer of red maple at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky. This forest has not experienced fire in 80-plus years; red maple is proliferating, creating dense shade. Dense shade reduces forest flammability and hinders regeneration of shade-intolerant oaks. Photo courtesy of Heather Alexander.