Dogwood trees act as a calcium pump, pulling the nutrient from deep in the soil and depositing it on the forest floor with their fallen leaves each autumn. It's an important source of nutrition for a variety of species in a forest ecosystem, said Michael Jenkins, assistant professor of forestry and natural resources. Fungi, insects, snails and other organisms that live on the forest floor feed on the calcium-rich leaves, and many birds and mammals consume the protein-rich berries.
"During fall migrations, these berries are an important food source for many songbirds," Jenkins said.
But Discula destructiva, a fungus thought to have been unknowingly brought to the United States from Asia, has caused a serious decline in dogwood populations in recent decades. The fungus kills a tree's foliage and then girdles the tree by creating cankers on the trunk.
"The disease has expanded across much of the flowering dogwood's range in North America," said Jenkins, who co-authored an article published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management with Eric Holzmueller of Southern Illinois University and Shibu Jose of the University of Missouri. "It pretty much decimates dogwood populations. In some cases, we have seen more than 90 percent mortality."
Jenkins and his colleagues studied the effect fire has on revitalizing the dogwood population in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. He said in forests where there have been two fires over a 20-year period, dogwoods have survived the disease.
Jenkins said the Discula destructiva fungus likes cool, moist areas with little air movement. Undisturbed forests provide that, but occasional burning opens up forests, increases the sunlight that reaches the forest floor and allows greater air movement.
In areas that haven't experienced burns, Jenkins said eastern hemlock trees have moved in and replaced dogwood. The hemlocks create a lower canopy that increases shading and moisture, establishing ideal conditions for the fungus and further reducing dogwoods and potential food sources for wildlife.
"You have these waves of species loss and replacement that alter the stability and function of forest ecosystems," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said prescribed burning on an approximately 10-year rotation might offer a way to maintain dogwood populations in infected forests where eastern hemlock has taken over.
Jenkins and his colleagues next plan to monitor new burn sites to see how dogwood responds and hope to test the direct effects of heat and smoke on the Discula destructiva fungus. The National Park Service Southeast Region Natural Resources Preservation Program, the Great Smoky Mountains Association and the University Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences funded the study.
Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, email@example.com
Source: Michael Jenkins, 765-494-3602, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722
Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
05.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
05.12.2016 | Life Sciences