Emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis Farimaire) has been found in 35 US states and five Canadian provinces. This invasive beetle is causing widespread mortality to ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), which are an important timber product and ornamental tree, as well as a cultural resource for some Tribes. The damage will likely continue despite efforts to impede its spread. Further, widespread and rapid ash mortality as a result of EAB is expected to alter forest composition and structure, especially when coupled with the regional effects of climate change in post-ash forests. Thus, we forecasted the long-term effects of EAB-induced ash mortality and preemptive ash harvest (a forest management mitigation strategy) on forested land across a 2-million-hectare region in northern Wisconsin. We used a spatially explicit and spatially interactive forest simulation model, LANDIS-II, to estimate future species dominance and biodiversity assuming continued widespread ash mortality. We ran forest disturbance and succession simulations under historic climate conditions and three downscaled CMIP5 climate change projections representing the upper bound of expected changes in precipitation and temperature. Our results suggest that although ash loss from EAB or harvest resulted in altered biodiversity patterns in some stands, climate change will be the major driver of changes in biodiversity by the end of century, causing increases in the dominance of southern species and homogenization of species composition across the landscape.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Environmental Chemistry