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Impact of the balsam woolly adelgid on an Abies fraseri Poir dominated stand near the summit of Mount LeConte, Tennessee



Impact of the balsam woolly adelgid on an Abies fraseri Poir dominated stand near the summit of Mount LeConte, Tennessee



Castanea 68(2): 109-118



To assess changes in a spruce-fir stand resulting from overstory mortality caused by the balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae), I resampled 5 permanent plots first established in 1979 near the summit of Mount LeConte, Tennessee. Overstory basal area and density of Abies fraseri decreased, but understory basal area and density increased. Understory density and basal area were highly variable for most species. Prunus pensylvanica and Sorbus americana appeared to increase in understory density as a response to overstory mortality, although these changes were not statistically significant (P>0.1). Abies fraseri seedling density decreased (P=0.063), while that of Vaccinium erythrocarpum increased (P=0.002). Among herbaceous species, the cover of Oxalis montana decreased from 45% to 1.5% (P<0.001), while that of Dryopteris campyloptera increased from 9% to 15% (P=0.063). Although not statistically significant, the cover of Rubus canadensis increased from 2% to 30% (P=0.159) but was highly variable between plots. The severity and extent of mortality caused by the adelgid has greatly altered composition and structure, and even after 22-years the stand is still in a state of structural and compositional reorganization.

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