Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Natural Resources

First Advisor

Jennifer A. Pontius

Abstract

The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA, Adelges tsugae Annand) is an invasive insect that threatens to eradicate native eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr.) across the eastern United States. In southern New England and southern Appalachian forests, HWA-induced hemlock mortality has impacted carbon (C) flux by altering stand age, litter composition, species composition, and coarse woody debris levels. However, no one has examined how total C storage and sequestration may be impacted by these changes. Further, while projections are that HWA will ultimately infest hemlock across its entire geographic range, the majority of studies have been limited to southern New England and Appalachian forests where HWA infestation has been ongoing. To address these gaps, we examined how HWA might alter C dynamics in northern New England forests using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) and Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) data to model C storage and successional pathways under three different scenarios: preemptive harvesting of hemlock, HWA-induced hemlock mortality, and a control mimicking natural stand development absent of disturbance. Our 150 year simulation showed that, while all treatments differed significantly in C storage in the short term, there was no significant difference in total C stocks between HWA infestation and presalvage treatments by the 75th year. Compared to the control, both simulated treatments resulted in a significant decrease in total C storage, with greater impacts on stands with higher hemlock densities. However, net C losses over the 150 year simulation were significantly higher for the presalvage scenario, indicating that allowing HWA infestation to progress naturally through a stand may result in the least impact to long-term C sequestration for the region's forests.

Language

en

Number of Pages

73 p.