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Individual Highlight

Eastern Redcedar Forests are Expanding in the Central United States

Photo of An example of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) expansion into grasslands in eastern Nebraska. USDA Forest ServiceAn example of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) expansion into grasslands in eastern Nebraska. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Monitoring of change in our nation’s forest resources is an important aspect of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) work in the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. FIA scientists analyzed more than 8,000 sites and found that eastern red cedar has been increasing its numbers in the Central United States.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Meneguzzo, DaciaLiknes, Greg C.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 853


Eastern redcedar (ERC), a native juniper that can be found across much of eastern North America, is one of the most commonly planted windbreak species in the central United States, an area dominated by cropland and grazing, with pockets of scattered forests. These forests have been experiencing an increase in ERC for several decades and natural regeneration from planting ERC for windbreaks has resulted in new ERC forests. An analysis of data collected by the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program from 2000 to 2012 indicates that forest land dominated by ERC is increasing in area, volume, and density, with the largest gains occurring in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. An analysis of seedling abundance by species indicates a possible shift in future forest composition with ERC, hackberry, and chokecherry counts on the rise while oak, elm, maple, and other species counts declining. Indicators of tree diversity show that as the presence of ERC in the region increases, the overall tree species diversity decreases. An analysis of more than 8,000 forested sites provides a comprehensive picture of the extent and rate at which ERC is expanding and influencing the composition of forests in the central United States.