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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Assisted Migration of Replacement Tree Species in Black Ash Wetlands

Photo of Black ash killed by gridling to simulate EAB mortality.Black ash killed by gridling to simulate EAB mortality.Snapshot : Black ash is a foundational species of deciduous wetland forests in the western Great Lakes region because of its considerable influence on wetland hydrology and related ecosystem services. Loss of ash trees due to emerald ash borer infestation will profoundly change the function of these ecosystems, while climate change may limit the ability of native trees that co-occur with black ash to replace black ash. Forest Service scientists are assessing various tree species for suitability to replace the ecological role of black ash and that are also adapted to possible future climates.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Palik, Brian J. , PhD 
Research Location : Chippewa National Forest in north central Minnesota
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 846


The emerald ash borer (EAB) has yet to spread into the vast black ash wetlands of the western Great Lakes region, where black ash is a foundational species because of its numerical dominance. Invasion by EAB will result in loss of whole forests and their ecosystem services. An added dilemma is that most of the native tree species that co-occur with black ash and might replace ash after loss from EAB, are projected to fare poorly with climate change. With collaborators from the University of Vermont and the Minnesota Forest Resource Council, Forest Service scientists have implemented a large-scale experiment on Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest to simulate EAB mortality in healthy black ash forests and to test the success of various tree species that have potential to replace black ash because they are future-climate adapted. Research results point to a Dutch elm disease-tolerant variety of American elm, along with swamp white oak and hackberry (two species from the next southern climate zones in Minnesota) as the most promising future-adapted species for replacement of black ash. This real-world management project is providing essential information to help managers develop strategies to sustain ecosystem services in forests threatened by EAB.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Chippewa National Forest
  • Dr. Anthony D'Amato, University of Vermont
  • Dr. Robert Slesak, Minnesota Forest Resources Council
  • University of Minnesota