Where Will Eastern Hemlock Grow in the Future?

 

Hemlock woolly adelgids feeding on hemlockOver the millennia, the range of eastern hemlock has fluctuated in response to cycles of global cooling and warming. Several genetically separate lineages appear to have evolved to adapt to different environmental conditions. Kevin Potter, a North Carolina State University scientist cooperating with the Eastern Threat Center, coauthored a study that evaluated ecological differences between the areas inhabited by these lineages. Expanding on a 2012 study that revealed clusters of eastern hemlock genetic diversity, the current study compared hemlock demographics and genetics across four genetic zones, explored hemlock abundance under current and future climate conditions, and analyzed hemlock's colonization potential. Apart from small areas in the Northeast and Southeast, the results (recently published in Biodiversity and Conservation) show that hemlock is not very likely to colonize new areas. The Southeast may provide the best future habitat, but hemlock woolly adelgids are likely to continue devastating southeastern hemlock trees. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Hemlock woolly adelgids feeding at the base of hemlock needles rob the tree of critical starch reserves. Photo by Ashley Lamb, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org.

 

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