An American Chestnut Hybrid May Survive in Nature if Properly Situated
The American chestnut, once a dominant forest tree important to wildlife and rural communities throughout the eastern United States, was nearly wiped out by chestnut blight in the early 20th century. An American chestnut hybrid that is moderately to highly resistant to the blight will soon be available for reintroduction. Researchers with the Forest Service, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have implemented an experiment in western Pennsylvania to evaluate the importance of site quality to competitive ability and long-term blight-resistance of these hybrid chestnut trees. Study sites were categorized as mesic (wet), xeric (dry), and intermediate using the integrated moisture index (IMI), developed by Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern Research Station. The IMI uses digital GIS-derived topographical features and soils data to provide a moisture rating for sites of interest. Moisture availability is an important feature influencing vegetative dynamics and has been found to affect blight resistance in chestnut. Results from this project will help land managers select chestnut reintroduction sites that increase chances of long-term establishment success.
Forest Service Partners