Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Forest Science (PhD)
College, School or Department Name
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Andrew John Storer
Invasive and exotic species present a serious threat to the health and sustainability of natural ecosystems. These species often benefit from anthropogenic activities that aid their introduction and dispersal. This dissertation focuses on invasion dynamics of the emerald ash borer, native to Asia, and European earthworms. These species have shown detrimental impacts in invaded forest ecosystems across the Great Lakes region, and continue to spread via human-assisted long distance dispersal and by natural modes of dispersal into interior forests from areas of introduction. Successful forest management requires that the impact and effect of invasive species be considered and incorporated into management plans. Understanding patterns and constraints of introduction, establishment, and spread will aid in this effort.
To assist in efforts to locate introduction points of emerald ash borer, a multicriteria risk model was developed to predict the highest risk areas. Important parameters in the model were road proximity, land cover type, and campground proximity. The model correctly predicted 85% of known emerald ash borer invasion sites to be at high risk. The model’s predictions across northern Michigan can be used to focus and guide future monitoring efforts. Similar modeling efforts were applied to the prediction of European earthworm invasion in northern Michigan forests. Field sampling provided a means to improve upon modeling efforts for earthworms to create current and future predictions of earthworm invasion. Those sites with high soil pH and high basal area of earthworm preferred overstory species (such as basswood and maples) had the highest likelihood of European earthworm invasion. Expanding beyond Michigan into the Upper Great Lakes region, earthworm populations were sampled across six National Wildlife Refuges to identify potential correlates and deduce specific drivers and constraints of earthworm invasion. Earthworm communities across all refuges were influenced by patterns of anthropogenic activity both within refuges and in surrounding ecoregions of study. Forest composition, soil pH, soil organic matter, anthropogenic cover, and agriculture proximity also proved to be important drivers of earthworm abundance and community composition.
While there are few management options to remove either emerald ash borer or European earthworms from forests after they have become well established, prevention and early detection are important and can be beneficial. An improved understanding the factors controlling the distribution and invasion patterns of exotic species across the landscape will aid efforts to determine their consequences and generate appropriate forest management solutions to sustain ecosystem health in the presence of these invaders.
Shartell, Lindsey M., "Invasion patterns of emerald ash borer and European earthworms in forested ecosystems", Dissertation, Michigan Technological University, 2012.