Howard Addresses How Fire Suppression, Development Are Affecting WV Pines

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 26, 2010

Dr. Lauren F. Howard, Assistant Professor of Biology, will be featured at the Faculty Forum on Thursday, March 11, at 4 Kuch Hospitality Suite. Faculty Forums are open to faculty and staff. Howard will talk about “Pitch Pine Conservation Status and Fire Dynamics in West Virginia.”

“Piney ridges above 4.000 feet elevation in West Virginia are rare habitats that support many unique and endangered species of plants and animals,” Howard says. “While Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) can be found scattered throughout the Appalachians, it forms continuous large habitats in only a few spots, including the Shawangunks of New York and the vicinity of North Fork Mountain in West Virginia. These understudied high-elevation pine ecosystems are being disrupted or destroyed by such factors as residential development, power generation (wind farms) and mountaintop removal mining. Also, a half-century or more of fire suppression is slowly changing the forest’s character from pitch pine to other species. As in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, pitch pine typically needs periodic fire to regenerate.”