Date of Original Version
The introduction of Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid [HWA]) to the eastern United States has had a devastating impact on Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock). Although much research has been done to assess HWA impacts on ecosystem processes and vegetation structure, few researchers have examined community-level changes in highly infested forest stands. Here we assess the impact of Eastern Hemlock mortality on vegetation and invertebrate diversity and community structure by comparing low-impact (healthy) stands and stands heavily impacted by HWA. We sampled the vegetative and invertebrate diversity of 8 sites (4 low impact and 4 high impact) in the summer and fall of 2008. We found a shift in the understory plant community and the canopy and subcanopy arthropod communities. Herbaceous plant species richness was significantly higher at high-impact sites, with Betula lenta (Black Birch) being the most common woody species. Overall, forest invertebrate community diversity (measured using the Shannon-Weaver diversity index) was greater in high- versus low-impact sites. Of the 21 indicator species significantly associated with a given forest type, 14 and 7 species were associated with high- and low-impact forests, respectively. Variation in arthropod community structure was driven by above-ground differences; ground-level arthropod community composition did not differ between high- and low-impact sites. These results demonstrate some of the biodiversity impacts that can result from the invasion of an exotic insect into forested systems.
Ingwell, L. L., Miller-Pierce, M., Trotter, R. T., III, & Preisser, E. L. (2012). Vegetation and Invertebrate Community Response to Eastern Hemlock Decline in Southern New England. Northeastern Naturalist, 19(4), 541-558. doi: 10.1656/045.019.0402
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1656/045.019.0402