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Individual Highlight

Understanding effects of emerald ash borer on forests

Photo of Dead ash trees in an urban forest create a gap in the canopy, allowing sunlight to filter down to other trees and plants. Dead ash trees in an urban forest create a gap in the canopy, allowing sunlight to filter down to other trees and plants. Snapshot : As the invasive emerald ash borer swept across Ohio, Forest Service researchers tracked its aftermath as killed ash trees unleashed a cascade of effects in forest ecosystems. Understanding these effects will help managers plan for and mitigate problems in forests throughout the region.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Knight, KathleenFlower, Charles E.
Research Location : Ohio (multiple sites in rural and urban areas, including Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Cleveland)
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1248

Summary

Scientists from the Forest Service along with researchers from USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service and Miami University used a network of long-term monitoring plots in Ohio in a suite of studies to understand the cascading effects of emerald ash borer (EAB) on forest ecosystems. They worked to study how EAB impacts forests, including ecosystems in urban metro parks. When EAB killed almost all of the mature ash trees in these Ohio forests, both native trees and invasive plants responded with increased growth. Maple trees, in particular, were poised to grow rapidly to fill in gaps as the ash trees died; however, even the rapid growth of the remaining tree species was not enough to compensate for the loss in carbon uptake when the ash trees died, and the invasive shrub Amur honeysuckle also grew faster as EAB killed the ash trees. The dead ash trees began to break up and fall, causing a pulse of coarse woody debris on the forest floor. Urban and rural forest managers are using the results of this research in planning their response to EAB.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Miami, USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service

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