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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Adelges tsugae, density-dependence, Massachusetts, population dynamics, stabilization of populations, survival
To investigate the density-dependent factors that may be partly responsible for the apparent stability of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae Annand) populations in central New England, we infested 64 eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis Carrière) trees with varying densities of HWA sistens ovisacs in a typical eastern hemlock forest in western Massachusetts. We subsequently documented HWA density, fecundity, and the amount of new growth on experimental trees over two consecutive years. We used a 2 x 2 randomized block design using previously and newly infested hemlocks divided into 1 m tall saplings and branches of mature trees. There was a density-dependent decline in the survival and fecundity of HWA in both the spring and winter generations. This response was a function of both previous infestation by HWA and current years crawler density in the spring generation. Additionally, the production of sexuparae in the spring generation played a key role in the overall density-dependent survival of HWA, suggesting that sexuparae production is strongly linked to developing crawler density. In Chapter 2, varying densities of HWA were manipulated on 16 previously uninfested eastern hemlocks in an open field plantation. In contrast to HWA populations in our forest experiment, there was no evidence of density-dependent survival on a tree-wide basis in the plantation in the springtime progrediens generation. However, there were comparable density-dependent survival of settled crawlers and sexuparae production when samples of the population were examined from branches with high density. Plantation hemlocks had 9.3 times more foliage and ten times lower HWA densities per cm than forest hemlocks. Despite the lack of density-dependence in the progrediens generation of this study, HWA populations of the subsequent sistens generation went extinct on 13 out of the 16 trees. These results show that density-dependent processes may only exist when HWA density/cm reaches a certain threshold, and that high mortality may occur during the late-summer aestivation phase at densities below this threshold, perhaps due to high summertime temperatures in HWA’s sistens generation. These results may help explain the slow process of HWA establishment in our region.
Joseph S. Elkinton