Date of Graduation

Fall 2012


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alexander Wait


fire, species richness, PAR transmittance, canopy cover, densiometer

Subject Categories



Prescribed fire is a tool used to manage oak-hickory woodlands for wildlife habitat. This study examined how prescribed fire affected woodland structure and how this structure alters transmittance of light within Drury-Mincy Conservation Area, (Taney County, Missouri). Sampling occurred in twenty 0.1 ha plots established in 2007. Plots represented: unburned degraded woodlands that were not burned since the mid twentieth century (n = 6), recently burned degraded woodlands that were prescribed fire in 2000, 2003, and 2008 (n = 6), and open woodlands that have been burned since the 1980s and were used as a "reference” (n = 8). Principal component analysis indicated that most of the variance in these sample woodland areas was accounted for by the proportion of understory graminoids, understory species richness, and slope. There was a significant difference in light levels between burned and unburned woodlands. This study also examined if canopy closure provides a representative measure of the light available to understory plant populations because canopy closure measured with a concave spherical densiometer is often used as a surrogate for light measures. There was a significant linear relationship between canopy closure and transmittance of photosynthetically active radiation. In addition, both of these variables were positively correlated with species richness and Shannon's diversity index.


© Rebecca Gehringer

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