Ecological and hydrological impacts of the emerald ash borer on black ash forests

Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Dr. Brian Palik (USFS Northern Research Station); Dr. Shawn Fraver (University of Maine); Dr. Rob Slesak (Minnesota Forest Resources Council); Dr. Linda Nagel (University of Minnesota); Dr. Michael Falkowski (University of Minnesota); Dr. Matthew Russell (University of Minnesota)
Science Themes: 

This project examines the ecological and hydrological impacts of emerald ash borer on black ash-dominated wetlands throughout the Lake States using large-scale experimental studies documenting impacts of black ash mortality on ecosystem processes, wildlife communities, and evaluating potential mitigation and adaptation strategies under future climate and invasion scenarios.  Adaptation strategies being evaluated include the planting of non-host tree species and management techniques to increase levels of compositional and structural complexity within these systems.  Work is also generating maps of the distribution of black ash forest habitats to help prioritize areas for conservation and mitigation in the context of emerald ash borer impacts.

Analyses of four-year trends in survival of planted seedlings indicate that American elm, swamp white oak, and hackberry have had the greatest levels of survival out of the 11 non-ash species planted (> 80% survival for all three species).  Of these, swamp white oak and hackberry are not currently present in this portion of the region, but are projected to have suitable climate conditions in these areas over the next 100 years. Survival of planted lowland conifer species, including northern white cedar and black spruce, has been greatest in areas where an ash canopy is still present, namely the group selection (harvest of 0.1 acre gaps across stand) and EAB-mortality treatments (girdled plots) highlighting the negative impacts clearcutting may have on our ability to establish non-host species in these areas. Moreover, survival of northern white cedar has been greatly limited by elevated levels of herbivory in these areas, underscoring the importance of accounting for other stressors when developing adaptive approaches. The fourth season of post-harvest hydrological measurements indicated that clearcut and girdle treatments continue to contain flooded conditions that persisted six to eight weeks longer than in no-harvest and group selection areas.  These results indicate that EAB-induced mortality and associated presalvage harvesting activities will cause dramatic shifts in groundwater dynamics that could limit the effectiveness of planting non-host species once EAB is affecting an area, particularly if early growing season rainfall patterns increase.  This work has been expanded to black ash forest systems in Michigan and Wisconsin to better characterize EAB impacts and possible adaptation strategies.  This includes quantifying the impacts of ash mortality on herpetological and insect communities beginning in summer 2015 as well as developing a managers guide for adaptive managementin these systems.

  • D'Amato, A.W., B.J. Palik, R.A. Slesak, G. Edge, C. Matula, D. Bronson.  July 26. Recommendations for moving forward based on management experience and recent research in black ash wetlands. Science and Management of Ash Forests after EAB Workshop, Duluth, MN.
  • D’Amato, A.W., B.J. Palik, C. Looney, R. Slesak, and M. Slater.  2017. Black ash, emerald ash borer, and climate change: assisting the replacement of a foundational species.  Presentation. 11th North American Forest Ecology Workshop, Edmonton, Alberta. June 22. 
  • Co-lead workshop “Adaptive Management in the Face of Climate Change” for University of Minnesota, Sustainable Forestry Education Cooperative on October 28, 2013.
    • Conference attendees included federal, county, state, and private foresters from Minnesota, as well as Extension Educators from Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
  • D’Amato, AW. 2013. Black ash: characterizing stand dynamics, evaluating management options, and anticipating EAB impacts. Presentation at Forest Health Workshop sponsored by Chippewa National Forest and Minnesota DNR, Walker, MN.  February 12.  
  • Reinikainen, M.R., A.W. D'Amato, B.J. Palik. Evaluating adaptation strategies for black ash forests threatened by emerald ash borer. Black Ash Symposium, University of Maine, Orono, ME. November 5, 2014.          
  • D’Amato, A.W., B. J. Palik, R. A. Slesak, and C. Lenhart. Overview of a large-scale experiment to assess the impacts of emerald ash borer on the structure and function of black ash forest ecosystems and the potential for restoration.  Midwest-Great Lakes Society of Ecological Restoration Chapter Meeting, St. Paul, MN. March 28, 2014.
  • Reinikainen, M.R., A.W. D’Amato, B.J. Palik.Two-year survival of potential replacement species in ash-dominated wetlands.    Midwest-Great Lakes Society of Ecological Restoration Chapter Meeting, St. Paul, MN. March 28, 2014.
  • Lenhart, C., K. Brooks, R. A. Slesak, A.W. D’Amato, B.J. Palik. The hydrologic setting for black ash wetlands: implications for restoration and management. Midwest-Great Lakes Society of Ecological Restoration Chapter Meeting, St. Paul, MN.  March 28, 2014.
  • Slesak, R.A., C. Lenhart, K. Brooks, A.W. D’Amato, B.J. Palik. Water table response of black ash wetlands to simulated emerald ash borer mortality and harvesting.  Midwest-Great Lakes Society of Ecological Restoration Chapter Meeting, St. Paul, MN.  March 28, 2014.
  • Looney, C., A.W. D’Amato, and B.J. Palik. Impacts of restoration treatments and emerald ash borer on vegetation communities in black ash-dominated wetlands.  Midwest-Great Lakes Society of Ecological Restoration Chapter Meeting, St. Paul, MN. March 28, 2014.  
  • Palik, B.J., and A.W. D'Amato. Developing strategies for managing black ash forests in the face of emerald ash borer.  USFS Region 9 Silviculture Workshop.  Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN.  June 24, 2014.
  • Palik, B.J., A.W. D'Amato, and R. A. Slesak. Evaluating the Ecological Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer and Climate Change on Black Ash Forests. Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative Wildlife and Forest Research Review. Cloquet, MN. February 24, 2015.
  • Looney, C., A.W. D'Amato, and B.J. Palik. Overstory treatment and planting season affect survival of replacement tree species in emerald ash borer-threatened Fraxinus nigra forests in Minnesota, USA. North American Forest Ecology Workship, Veracruz, Mexico. June 18, 2015.
  • Slesak, R.A. Hydrology of black ash wetlands: Implications for management of the EAB threat.  Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative Fall Webinar Series, University of Minnesota. September 15, 2015.
  • Looney, C., A.W. D'Amato, and B.J. Palik. Treatment, Species, and Planting Season Impact Seedling Success in EAB-Imperiled Black Ash Forests.  Society of American Foresters National Convention, Baton Rouge, LA. November 5, 2015.
  • Youngquist, M., A.W. D'Amato, S. Eggert, B.J. Palik, and R.A. Slesak. Potential Indirect Effects of Invasive Emerald Ash Borer on Wetland Fauna in Black Ash Forests.  Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Grand Rapids, MI, January 24-27 2016.
  • Youngquist, M. A,W, D’Amato, B.J. Palik, S. Eggert, and R.A. Slesak. 2016. Predicting the indirect effects of emerald ash borer on amphibians in black ash wetlands.  Region 9 Lake States Sub-Regional Soils, Water, Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology Workshop, Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center, Ashland, WI.  April 26-28. 2016
  • D'Amato, A.W., B.J. Palik, and R.A. Slesak. Sustaining Great Lakes Black Ash Forests in the Face of Emerald Ash Borer.  November 2-6.  Society of American Foresters National Convention. Madison, WI. 
  • Palik, B.J., A.W. D'Amato, and R.A. Slesak.  November 2-6. Evaluating Replacement Tree Species in Black Ash Forests Threatened by EAB and Climate Change. Society of American Foresters National Convention. Madison, WI.
  • Pzswaro, J., A.W. D'Amato, B.J. Palik, and R.A. Slesak. November 2-6. Silvicultural Options for Increasing Resilience of Black Ash Wetlands to EAB in Wisconsin. Society of American Foresters National Convention. Madison, WI.