Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 371–383 | Cite as

Factors affecting the survival of ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees infested by emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)

  • Kathleen S. KnightEmail author
  • John P. Brown
  • Robert P. Long
Original Paper


Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) (EAB), an Asian woodboring beetle accidentally introduced in North America, has killed millions of ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees and is spreading rapidly. This study examined the effects of tree- and site-level factors on the mortality of ash trees in stands infested by EAB in OH, USA. Our data show that ash populations in forested sites can progress from healthy to almost complete mortality of mature trees within 6 years. Although the end result of nearly complete mortality does not vary, survival analysis with 5 years of data showed that some factors affected the rate of mortality. We found more rapid mortality in stands with lower densities of ash trees. This finding supports an extension of the resource dilution hypothesis whereby concentration of EAB on few trees in low ash density areas leads to rapid decline of these trees. This contradicts an extension of the resource concentration theory that greater host density increases relative pest abundance and host mortality. Although reductions in ash density via diversification may be desirable for other silvicultural, conservation, and management objectives in preparation for EAB, our study shows that the management strategy of reducing ash density is unlikely to protect the remaining ash trees. Survival analysis also showed that mortality was more rapid for trees shaded by other trees and for trees initially exhibiting dieback. In management scenarios where hazard tree removal must be spread over several years due to budget constraints, focusing initial tree removal on stressed trees is recommended.


Host density Pest Insect Forest Resource concentration Resource dilution 



We appreciate the many people who helped with Ohio ash mortality and purple trap field data collection 2004–2009, including Stephanie Smith, Charles Flower, Kyle Costilow, Lawrence Long, Tim Fox, Joan Jolliff, Jennifer Finfera, Trevor Walsh, Alex Royo, Todd Hutchinson, Winn Johnson, Robert Acciavatti, and Adam Cumpston. We thank Daniel Herms, Annemarie Smith, Kamal Gandhi, Diane Hartzler, and John Cardina for their collaboration on the design of the study and for excellent discussion and input throughout the study. We are grateful to John Jaeger, Glen Palmgren, Paul Muelli, and Karen Gourlay for their input on EAB management challenges which shaped our research to address questions relevant to managers. We thank Joanne Rebbeck for her role in the establishment of the plots and Daniel Yaussy for statistical advice. We are grateful to both public and private land owners, including the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, the Columbus Metro Parks, Johnny Appleseed Metro Parks, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, ODNR Division of Forestry, ODNR Ohio State Parks, Dempsey Middle School, Stratford Ecological Center, Ohio Wesleyan University, David Edwards, Kryder, Ed Lavens, Gene Nagel, William McKinney, and Steve Planson, for allowing us to conduct this research on their land. This manuscript was much improved by suggestions from Alejandro Royo, Therese Poland, Daniel Herms, Jennifer Koch, editor Daniel Simberloff, and an anonymous reviewer. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and USDA National Research Initiative provided support for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen S. Knight
    • 1
    Email author
  • John P. Brown
    • 2
  • Robert P. Long
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA Forest Service Northern Research StationDelawareUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service Northern Research StationPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest Service Northern Research StationIrvineUSA

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