The impacts of invasive plants and insects on native ecosystems has been well documented.  Once established,and depending on their impact, some invasive species may persist, thus creating an entirely different ecosystem than that before the introduction occurred.  These "novel ecosystems" are likely to become more and more common as additional destructive non-native species are introduced. 

Our lab is heavily invested in examining the ecological impacts of the emerald ash borer (EAB) on forests in the region. EAB has now spread to 20 states and 2 Canadian provinces, but was originally introduced in suburban Detroit, making Michigan an important forebearer of ecological impacts of EAB in other states. 
Dense ash regeneration around a large tree killed by EAB

Our lab has completed important research describing the potential of ash to persist in the presence of EAB by examining the structure and dynamics of ash regeneration across the landscape.  Despite widespread and initial predicitons that ash will not persist in the presence of EAB, research in our lab on post-EAB ash fruiting and recruitment dymamics is beginning to suggest that ash may be able to maintain itself in the presence of EAB, albeit in smaller stature.  Our lab has examined effects of EAB-caused ash mortality and prescribed fire on amphibian communities.

Large patch of dead green ash, southeastern Michigan

A different facet of our work on emerald ash borer is to examine the impact of EAB biocontrol efforts in Lower Michigan.  In 2007, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) began to release three parasitoid wasp species from China to control populations of EAB.  With confirmed establishment of these natural enemies of EAB, our lab has been critical in collecting baseline information on ash health and regeneration (specifically, monitoring the growth, density, and survival of seedlings, saplings, stump sprouts, some larger survivors, and seed production/germination) at EAB-biocontrol release and control plots in order to determine the long-term impact of parasitoids on EAB and subsequently the ash genera.

 

 

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