The arrival and spread of emerald ash borer (EAB) across the western Great Lakes region has shifted considerable focus towards developing silvicultural strategies that minimize the impacts of this invasive insect on the structure and functioning of black ash (Fraxinus nigra) wetlands. Early experience with clearcutting in these forests highlighted the risks of losing ash to EAB from these ecosystems, with stands often retrogressing to marsh-like conditions with limited tree cover. Given these experiences and an urgency for increasing resilience to EAB, research efforts began in north-central Minnesota in 2009 followed by additional studies and trials in Michigan and Wisconsin to evaluate the potential for using regeneration harvests in conjunction with planting of replacement species to sustain forested wetland habitats after EAB infestations. Along with these more formal experiments, a number of field trials and demonstrations have been employed by managers across the region to determine effective ways for reducing the vulnerability of black ash forest types to EAB. This paper reviews the results from these recent experiences with managing black ash for resilience to EAB and describes the insights gained on the ecological functioning of these forests and the unique, foundational role played by black ash.
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Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Laura Reuling, Kyle Gill, and Justin Pszwaro for leading field data collections and summaries from the Wisconsin DNR Swamp Hardwood Trials. Christopher Looney and Mitch Slater led field data collections and summaries for adaptive silviculture studies in black ash communities in north-central Minnesota. Nicholas Bolton provided insights on performance and survival of planted seedlings in Michigan and Wisconsin ash forests. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Department of Interior Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service Northeastern Forest Health Protection Program, MN Forest Resources Council, and Wisconsin DNR. Gary Swanson of the Chippewa National forest provided the initial inspiration for the Minnesota study. Comments from three anonymous reviewers and Dr. Marla Emery helped in improving an earlier version of this paper.
© 2018 by the authors.
- Adaptive silviculture
- Black ash
- Emerald ash borer
- Habitat type
- Lake States