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Individual Highlight

Getting Reacquainted with an Old Friend

Photo of Forest Service summer intern Daniel Delatte measuring the height of a planted hybrid American chestnut seedling. Cornelia Pinchot, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Forest Service summer intern Daniel Delatte measuring the height of a planted hybrid American chestnut seedling. Cornelia Pinchot, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Forest Service scientists investigate site factors that will boost success rates in hybrid American chestnut plantings in forests. This will help managers select optimal planting sites for chestnut reintroduction on public lands.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Pinchot, Leila 
Research Location : Allegheny Plateau
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1060

Summary

Hybrid American chestnuts with improved resistance to the non-native chestnut blight fungus may soon be available for reintroduction on public lands. Understanding how various biotic factors (e.g., insects, competing plants, and disease), abiotic factors (e.g., soil moisture and available light) and their interactions affect seedling survival and vigor will help managers optimize reintroduction success. Blight-resistance, for example, might be bolstered by greater moisture availability in resource-rich sites, however, competition from other seedlings is also generally more intense in these sites. In 2015, Forest Service researchers planted 900 hybrid American chestnut seedlings in xeric (dry), mesic (moist), and intermediate sites in western Pennsylvania to test how differences in soil moisture and nutrients, light availability, and competition from other seedlings affect long-term survival, growth, and blight resistance of planted chestnuts. After two growing seasons, 93 percent of the chestnut seedlings are alive. Once the trees have been in the ground for a few more years, the researchers can start to make meaningful connections between site factors and chestnut health and provide suggestions for planting chestnut successfully in forested settings in the Northeast.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
  • University of Tennessee

Strategic
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