jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Lightning 5

Length of Segment: 00:01:15

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Even in death, a 200-year old pine provides services for the forest that young pines cannot provide. Among these services are the little-understood roles that fat pine plays in pine forest communities. In old age, the inner wood of pines becomes saturated with resins; such wood is called fat pine. Resins make the wood hard and slow decay, so that fat pine and stumps and logs can survive for decades. While these big old stumps and logs provide shelter for an abundance of creatures, during a hot wildfire the fat pine ignites and will burn until it has been totally consumed. It's no wonder that fat pine has been prized as a source of kindling. But big stumps with fat pine have a far more important natural value: they produce habitats missing from modern forests. When the fat pine stump is totally consumed, what's left is a hole three to four feet deep, with smaller holes extending several feet in every direction where roots with fat pine burned. The stump hole fills with water, and becomes an important breeding site for frogs, toads, and salamanders. Root holes provide safe havens for small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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