Southern pine bark beetle populations havebeen advancing northward as winter temperatures have increased. These beetles are invading the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which is regarded as a unique and protected ecosystem. In these forests, the beetles kill trees they inhabit, and thecurrent management practice - to limit beetlespread - is to fell both beetleinfected and immediately surrounding living trees. Much of this wood is left in theforest and ultimately creates a significant fire hazard. Fungi are the main decomposers of wood and the natural defense response of trees is to produce resin to seal a wound and to kill or suppress organisms causing the damage. Resin production is greatly elevated in trees under attack by bark beetles. The impact of increased resin presence in wood on its rate of decomposition and colonization by fungi effecting this decomposition is largely unknown.Our proposed study will investigate the decomposition and fungal colonization of both high and low resin wood to provide information on the longevity of this fuel on the forest floor. In doing so we will identify the differences in the fungal community developing in resin enhanced wood compared to normal wood and how these changes in fungal communities affect the incorporation of nitrogen (a limiting nutrient in these ecosystems) into wood, that would otherwise be available for the growth of other plants.
|Effective start/end date||7/1/16 → 6/30/19|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))