Longleaf in the Upper Coastal Plain

The longleaf pine ecosystem, once the principal component of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, has been reduced to a scant 3% of its original distribution. However, recent restoration efforts have focused on the reestablishment of habitat for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, a species directly dependent on healthy longleaf forests. As a result, the longleaf ecosystem has expanded its range in recent years due to the efforts of forest managers and the conservation community.

Longleaf stands in the Talladega NF represent a prime example of upland longleaf pine---a forest type common only to the northern Coastal Plain near the Fall Line. Longleaf in this region is restricted to ridgetops in a matrix of oak-hickory and bottomland yellow pine, and harbors diverse assemblages of fire-adapted flora and fauna.

While the herpetofaunal characteristics of the lower Coastal Plain have been widely studied, there has been no inventory of the reptiles and amphibians of upper Coastal Plain longleaf. The relationships of herpetofauna to fire in this ecosystem are also not well understood. Longleaf stands in the Talladega provide an ideal research environment for field studies to examine both of these questions.