Potential Species Replacements for Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) at the Confluence of Two Threats: Emerald Ash Borer and a Changing Climate
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The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis; EAB) is causing widespread mortality of ash (Fraxinus spp.) and climate change is altering habitats of tree species throughout large portions of North America. Black ash (F. nigra), a moist-soil species common in the Northwoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, USA, is under a double threat of losing habitat from climate change and near annihilation from EAB. Because black ash often occurs in nearly pure stands, planting non-ash species is a management strategy already underway or being planned for thousands of acres. Tools are needed to assist managers in prioritizing sites for early treatment and to select potential species to replace black ash. This study explores the implications of threats to black ash ecosystems using analyses of field data and models to assess both the threats to, and potential replacement species for, black ash in Minnesota. For our analysis we (1) assessed the status of ashes and co-occurring species in forest inventory plots throughout Minnesota; (2) modeled the risk of EAB attack for multiple years in Minnesota; (3) modeled potential impacts of climate change on tree species with current or potential future habitat in Minnesota; (4) evaluated species co-occurring with black ash in plots in Ohio and Michigan, southeast of Minnesota; and (5) synthesized these results to provide a classification for candidate replacement species, both from within Minnesota and from points farther south. Though this process is demonstrated for black ash in Minnesota, the elements to be considered and modeled would be similar for any other location with a pest or pathogen threat for a species which simultaneously faces a changing climate.
Keywordsassisted range expansion invasive insect spread model climate change emerald ash borer multiple forest threats restoration species distribution models
The work was sponsored by the authors’ primary research institutions: the Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service, The Ohio State University, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The authors are indebted to many, many organizations and individuals for the data represented here—the people who sampled the thousands of FIA plots and the others who provided the analysis and maps of ash and other species across the region; those who provided data on EAB abundance, major roads and traffic density, campground size and usage, the wood products industry, and human population density; those who sampled all the mosquito-laden plots in Michigan and Ohio; and those carrying out the planting experiment on the Chippewa National Forest. We are truly indebted to these people, for without their field-based and mapping efforts none of these studies would have been possible. Thanks to Rich McCullough, US Forest Service, for assistance with FIA queries. Thanks also to Tony D’Amato, Stephen Handler, Herman Shugart, and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.
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