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Hemlocks still abundant despite adelgid infestations
Date:9/26/2011

ASHEVILLE, NC A recent analysis of two decades of USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data shows the live volume of hemlocks in the eastern United States still increasing despite spreading infestations of hemlock woolly adelgid. FIA scientists from the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and Northern Research Station (NRS) published the information as an SRS e-Science Update in early August.

The FIA researchers conducted the analysis for this update on 20 years of data collected across 433 counties that stretch from southern Maine into northern Georgia. "When we started this project we really expected to see large-scale losses of hemlock at the landscape scale," says Sonja Oswalt, SRS forester and one of four co-authors. "We were surprised to find that, at the broad scale, hemlock loss is nowhere near as dire as expected."

The researchers actually found an overall increase in live-tree hemlock basal area in both counties infested with hemlock woolly adelgid and those without infestations.

"Even though this is unexpectedly good news about hemlock survival on the larger landscape, we don't want to downplay the localized effects that many people are aware of," says Oswalt. "In eastern forests where hemlocks are often the keystone species they can support over 1,000 species birds, animals, and insects. The loss of hemlock stands in many of these areas is nothing less than devastating."

Two native species of hemlockeastern and Carolinagrow in the eastern United States. Though a minor component in most of the forests of the eastern United States, high densities of eastern hemlock are found in New England and the mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. The Carolina hemlock, similar in appearance to the eastern hemlock, is found only on rocky mountain slopes in the Southern Appalachian region. Stands of hemlocks across the ranges of both species have been decimated by infestations of the h
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Contact: Sonja Oswalt
soswalt@fs.fed.us
865-862-2058
USDA Forest Service ‑ Southern Research Station
Source:Eurekalert  

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Hemlocks still abundant despite adelgid infestations
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