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Individual Highlight

An American Chestnut Hybrid May Survive in Nature if Properly Situated

Photo of Summer seasonal Tim Dirgins planting an American chestnut hybrid seedling. USDA Forest ServiceSummer seasonal Tim Dirgins planting an American chestnut hybrid seedling. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : A team of scientists from the Forest Service, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is evaluating the importance of site quality on competitive ability and long-term blight-resistance of hybrid chestnuts. Results from this project in western Pennsylvania will help land managers select chestnut reintroduction sites that increase chances of long-term establishment success.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Pinchot, Leila 
Research Location : On public and private forestlands, including the Allegheny National Forest and Susquehannock State Forest in western Pennsylvania
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 806

Summary

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

External Partners

  • Dr. Alex Royo, NRS-02
  • Dr. Shiv Hiremath, NRS-16
  • Matt Peters, NRS-02, Dr. Rakesh Minocha, NRS-16
  • Dr. Sandra Anagnostakis, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Dr. Scott Schlarbaum, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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