Influence of eastern spruce dwarf mistletoe on stand structure and composition in northern Minnesota

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Abstract

Black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.) is one of the most common tree species in the boreal forest. However, there is limited information on one of the major disturbance agents, eastern spruce dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium pusillum Peck; EDM) a native, parasitic plant that influences stand development especially at the southwestern range limit of black spruce in Minnesota. The goal of our study was to quantify overstory and understory (sapling and seedling) structure and composition in productive black spruce stands across three EDM severity categories: uninfected (0% EDM), low (<50% of stand infected with EDM), and high (>50% of stand infected with EDM) across northern Minnesota during the summer of 2017. The presence of EDM infection in stands shifted species composition and structure compared to uninfected stands. Uninfected stands were dominated by black spruce in both overstory and understory and on average had a uni-modal diameter distribution. Both low and high EDM severity stands had significantly greater overstory species richness, Shannon's diversity index, and Shannon's Evenness compared to uninfected stands. However, stands with high EDM infections had the most black spruce infected with EDM in both the overstory and sapling layer, which will likely kill the infected trees within seventeen years and may result in a shifting in forest composition or a transition to non-forested conditions. The presence and severity of EDM influences stand structure and composition and subsequently stand development. Depending on the goals and objectives and ultimate desired future conditions both at the stand and the broader landscape level, natural resource managers may choose more or less intensive management of EDM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118712
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume481
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR), UMP Blandin, and Molpus for assist in providing information and assess to sampling of stands used in this study. We are thankful to Ella Gray, Vanessa Zachman, and Stephanie Patton at the University of Minnesota for assistance with field sampling. Funding for this research was supported by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (projects MIN-42-101 and MIN-42-068 ), University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources , and partial funding provided by the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). We appreciate the two anonymous reviewers who provided thoughtful comments which greatly improved the manuscript.

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR), UMP Blandin, and Molpus for assist in providing information and assess to sampling of stands used in this study. We are thankful to Ella Gray, Vanessa Zachman, and Stephanie Patton at the University of Minnesota for assistance with field sampling. Funding for this research was supported by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (projects MIN-42-101 and MIN-42-068), University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, and partial funding provided by the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). We appreciate the two anonymous reviewers who provided thoughtful comments which greatly improved the manuscript.

Keywords

  • Ecological forestry
  • Intermediate disturbance hypothesis
  • Regeneration
  • Species diversity
  • Triad management

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