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© 2018, The Author(s). Understanding of historical fire seasonality should facilitate development of concepts regarding fire as an ecological and evolutionary process. In tree-ring based fire-history studies, the seasonality of fire scars can be classified based on the position of the fire scar within or between growth rings. Cambial phenology studies are needed to precisely relate a fire-scar position to months within a year because the timing of dormancy, earlywood production, and latewood production varies by species and location. We examined cambial phenology patterns of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.), slash pine (P. elliottii Engelm.), and South Florida slash pine (P. densa [Little & K.W Dorman] Silba) at sites in southern Georgia and south-central and northern Florida, USA. We developed long-term (2.5 yr to 12 yr) datasets of monthly growth and dormancy and determined when trees transitioned from producing early-wood to producing latewood each year. Most trees were dormant for a period of 1 to 2 months in the winter and transitioned from earlywood to latewood in June. Given the annual growth ring morphology of the pines that we studied and the timing of the lightning-fire season in our study area, we propose a new classification system for assigning seasonality to fire scars found in the three native upland pine species that we studied. This new system, which we name the Coastal Plain Pine System, accounts for the large proportion of latewood typical of these pines and includes a position (the transition position) that corresponds with the time of year when lightning fires occur most frequently. Our findings demonstrate how cambial phenology data can improve interpretation of fire-scar data for determining historical fire seasonality.

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Fire Ecology

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