• golf course;
  • longleaf pine forests;
  • prescribed fire;
  • restoration;
  • suburbs;
  • urban ecology;
  • wildland–urban interface

Abstract Logging, fire suppression, and urbanization have all contributed to the serious decline and fragmentation of Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Effective management of the remaining patches of these pyrogenic communities must incorporate periodic low-intensity fires, even where they are located on private lands in populated urban and suburban areas. To explore the effects of fire and its potential use for restoration and management of small fragments surrounded by suburban development, we conducted growing season prescribed fires in remnant longleaf pine sandhill patches in the suburbs of Gainesville, Florida. Density and composition of hardwoods were surveyed pre-burn and 1 and 9 months post-burn. Woody stem density decreased in the burn plots, predominantly in the smaller size classes. Flowering responses of forbs and small shrubs were surveyed six times post-burn for 1 year. Overall, the burns did not yield greater densities of flowering stems, but burn patches had higher species richness and diversity than control patches. In addition, there were consistently greater numbers of “showy flowered” sandhill species in flower in burn patches relative to controls. The results of this research demonstrate that prescribed fire can be used for restoration and management of small remnants of longleaf pine sandhill in suburban neighborhoods. It is also clear that although a single prescribed burn can be effective, it will take more than one burn to attain desired restoration goals in degraded longleaf remnants.