The nature of the Albany Pine Bush
Inland pine barrens are islands of rare habitat that differ dramatically from the surrounding deciduous forests of New York and New England. Factors including soil conditions and reoccurring fire contribute to their extraordinary ecology. The Albany Pine Bush is further distinguished by the rolling sand dunes that underlie this ecosystem.
The name "barrens" describes the nutrient-poor soil conditions of inland pine barrens. The soil of the Albany Pine Bush is predominantly sand, formed into dunes of various shapes and sizes by the wind. Water and nutrients drain quickly through the sand making conditions here dry and infertile. Despite these limiting factors, inland pine barrens ecosystems support an amazing diversity of life like few other places on Earth.
All pine barrens share a common dependence on wildland fire. Within the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, fire-adapted and fire-dependent plant communities are continually renewed by reoccurring fires. In the absence of fire, the landscape transforms into dense forest, losing its unique open character. To learn more about the fire ecology of the Albany Pine Bush, click here.
Frost pockets & microclimates
The rolling topography of sand in the Albany Pine Bush creates frost pockets in low-lying areas between sand dunes. These small valleys are prone to a longer season of frost, and experience different climatic conditions than the tops of the dunes. Even small variations in temperature across time can have profound effects on species and their survival.