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More sunlight: a solution in the fight against an invasive tree-killing insect

Photo of Robert Jetton of North Carolina State University experimentally infests potted hemlocks with hemlock woolly adelgids to examine the effects of shade on both the seedlings and the insects. Robert Jetton of North Carolina State University experimentally infests potted hemlocks with hemlock woolly adelgids to examine the effects of shade on both the seedlings and the insects. Snapshot : Eastern hemlock, a species with key ecological roles in eastern forests, is being killed throughout its range by an invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid. Using artificial shade treatments on potted hemlocks, Forest Service scientists and their partners showed that elevated sunlight levels improved seedling growth and carbon status and dramatically reduced numbers of hemlock woolly adelgid on the branches. The findings suggest that forest management practices, such as thinning or creating small canopy gaps, that increase sunlight exposure on hemlocks could be valuable tools in the effort to manage and conserve eastern hemlock.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Mayfield, Albert (Bud) E., III 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1305

Summary

Eastern hemlock, a species with key ecological roles in eastern forests, is being killed throughout its range by an invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Recently, Forest Service scientists and their partners conducted a study in which they subjected potted hemlock seedlings to different levels of artificial shade and infested them with HWA. The results, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, showed that elevated sunlight levels improved hemlock growth and carbon status and dramatically reduced numbers of HWA on the branches. The findings suggest that forest management practices, such as thinning or creating small canopy gaps, that increase sunlight exposure on hemlocks could be valuable tools in the effort to manage and conserve eastern hemlock. Additional research to test the effect of such practices on the health of hemlocks growing naturally in the forest is ongoing. The research is ongoing, and aims to provide forest managers with additional strategies for protecting hemlock trees.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • North Carolina State University

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