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Home Publications Tree Planters' Notes Tree Planters' Notes Volume 63, Number 2 (2020) Southern Pine Beetle: Damage and Consequences in Forests of the Mid-Atlantic Region, USA

Southern Pine Beetle: Damage and Consequences in Forests of the Mid-Atlantic Region, USA

Coastal pitch pine (Pinus rigida Mill.) forests on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain are threatened by the northerly migration of southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmerman). We quantified effects of southern pine beetle infestations and suppression treatments on composition and structure of pine-dominated forests in the Pinelands National Reserve of New Jersey. We then used a synthesis of forest census measurements, carbon (C) flux measurements, and simulations to evaluate potential effects on C sequestration. Pine tree mortality was extensive in infested areas, resulting in 94-percent reduction in basal area and 96-percent reduction in aboveground biomass, though pine seedlings and saplings were mostly unaffected in untreated infested areas. Beetle suppression treatments (cut and leave or cut and chip) further reduced pine sapling basal area whereas hardwoods were largely unaffected. Estimated leaf area recovered to 50 percent of pre-infestation levels 3 to 5 years following infestations, and estimated annual gross ecosystem production averaged 67 percent of values in uninfested areas. Estimated net ecosystem productivity, a measure of C sequestration, was lowest for cut and leave treatments and highest for cut and chip treatments where the majority of chips were hauled offsite for commercial use. Managing for pine-oak mixedwood stands can increase resistance to future outbreaks of bark beetles and other defoliators. This paper was presented at the 2019 Joint Annual Meeting of the Northeast and Southern Forest Conservation Nursery Associations (Atlantic City, NJ, July 23–25, 2019).

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Author(s): Kenneth L. Clark, Michael Gallagher, Carissa Aoki, Matthew Ayres

Publication: Tree Planters' Notes - Volume 63, Number 2 (2020)

Volume: 63

Number: 2