Anthony D'Amato and his collaborators recently published an article in Forest Ecology and Management entitled "Eighth-year survival and growth of planted replacement tree species in black ash (Fraxinus nigra) wetlands threatened by emerald ash borer in Minnesota, USA". Their work examines how black ash forests can be preserved given the devastating impact of the emerald ash borer on this tree species.
The introduced emerald ash borer (EAB) poses a significant threat to the structure and function of black ash-dominated forests throughout eastern North America. Across this region, black ash serves both a central role in the cultural lifeways and traditions of Indigenous peoples, as well as a foundational role in ecosystem dynamics in areas where it is a dominant overstory tree. As such, there has been a great urgency to develop adaptation strategies that can sustain the cultural and ecosystem values of black ash-dominated wetlands following the loss of overstory ash trees to EAB-induced mortality.
To address this need, D'Amato's team of managers and scientists co-produced a large-scale experiment on the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota in 2011 to test different harvesting and planting strategies to increase the resilience of black ash forests to EAB and climate change impacts. Eight-year results from this experiment indicate that planting of non-host species, including those from the next southern climate zone, may serve as one approach to sustain continuity in function in these systems after loss of overstory black ash. Greatest non-host species success in terms of survival and growth has been in group selection harvests that emulate aspects of the natural recruitment dynamics for these ecosystems.