Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


The nonnative hemlock woolly adelgid is steadily killing eastern hemlock trees in many parts of eastern North America. We summarize impacts of the adelgid on these forest foundation species; review previous models and analyses of adelgid spread dynamics; and examine how previous forecasts of adelgid spread and ecosystem dynamics compare with current conditions. The adelgid has reset successional sequences, homogenized biological diversity at landscape scales, altered hydrological dynamics, and changed forest stands from carbon sinks into carbon sources. A new model better predicts spread of the adelgid in the south and west of the range of hemlock, but still under-predicts its spread in the north and east. Whether these underpredictions result from inadequately modeling accelerating climate change or accounting for people inadvertently moving the adelgid into new locales needs further study. Ecosystem models of adelgid-driven hemlock dynamics have consistently forecast that forest carbon stocks will be little affected by the shift from hemlock to early-successional mixed hardwood stands, but these forecasts have assumed that the intermediate stages will remain carbon sinks. New forecasting models of adelgid-driven hemlock decline should account for observed abrupt changes in carbon flux and ongoing and accelerating human-driven land-use and climatic changes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.