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Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 2667–2679 | Cite as

Changes in the regional abundance of hemlock associated with the invasion of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand)

  • R. Talbot TrotterIIIEmail author
  • Randall S. Morin
  • Sonja N. Oswalt
  • Andrew Liebhold
Original Paper

Abstract

Since its introduction, the non-native hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) has spread to infest hemlock (Tsuga spp.) in at least 18 states in the eastern USA. Previous studies have documented highly variable rates of hemlock mortality among infested stands making it difficult to estimate regional impacts. Here data from the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program collected from 432 eastern U.S. counties reveals several surprising and conflicting regional patterns. First, median live and dead hemlock basal area has generally increased over the last two decades across the eastern U.S. This has generally been the case in both infested and uninfested counties. Second, the median percentage of hemlock which is alive has decreased over the past ~20 years, again in both infested and uninfested counties. Third, the ages of infestations are negatively correlated with the percentage of live hemlock, as might be expected given the known impact adelgids can have on a stand through time; however this relationship depends on the exclusion of uninfested counties, as counties infested >12 years and uninfested counties have similar percentages of live hemlock. Combined, these data suggest increasing tree density associated with the past century of reforestation and succession in the eastern U.S. may currently be overwhelming the negative impacts of the adelgid at the regional scale, however, the long-term stability of this situation is not known, and data from long-infested counties suggest the landscape may be at a “tipping point”.

Keywords

Invasive species Forest insects Forest Inventory and Analysis Succession 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Timothy Gregoire and Jonathan Reuning-Scherer for statistical recommendations. We thank Nathan Havill, Mike Montgomery, and two anonymous reviewers for critical reviews of the manuscript. This work was supported by the USDA Forest Service, Northern and Southern Research Stations.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (Outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Talbot TrotterIII
    • 1
    Email author
  • Randall S. Morin
    • 2
  • Sonja N. Oswalt
    • 3
  • Andrew Liebhold
    • 4
  1. 1.Northern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceHamdenUSA
  2. 2.Northern Research Station Forest Inventory and AnalysisUSDA Forest ServiceNewtown SquareUSA
  3. 3.Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and AnalysisUSDA Forest ServiceKnoxvilleUSA
  4. 4.Northern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceMorgantownUSA

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