Tree Mortality in Mixed Pine–Hardwood Stands Defoliated by the European Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar L.)

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Defoliation by the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) and subsequent tree mortality have been well documented in the northeastern United States. In this study we evaluate tree mortality after initial defoliation in mixed pine–hardwood stands in the southeastern United States as the range of European gypsy moth expands. In 1993, 46 mature pine–oak and pine–sweetgum stands were selected on the coastal plain in Maryland and Virginia along the advancing gypsy moth front. Initial stand conditions, defoliation, and tree mortality after a single defoliation outbreak were monitored for 4 years. Susceptible oaks and sweetgum were defoliated at the greatest intensities. After defoliation, mortality in attacked stands was 4.4 m2/ha higher in pine–oak stands and 1.7 m2/ha higher in pine–sweetgum stands, representing 13 and 3% of the total basal area, respectively. Mortality of pines was observed mainly among suppressed and intermediate trees. Logistic regressions were derived to correlate individual tree mortality to stand and tree factors associated with gypsy moth attack. On the basis of these models, susceptible understory species with degraded crowns in pine–oak stands were at the greatest risk of mortality. Dominant overstory pines in pine–hardwood stands appear to be at low risk.

Keywords: Lepidoptera; Lymantriidae; logistic regression; pine–oak; stand dynamics; vulnerability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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