The Potential Effect of the Emerald Ash Borer on the Vassar Ecological Preserve
Mentor: Keri VanCamp
Agrilus planipennis, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), is an invasive beetle that feeds on the phloem of ash trees and causes 100% mortality. EAB was introduced into the United States from Asia and Russia through shipping pallets and wooden packing materials made of ash. Since first confirmed in Michigan in 2002, EAB has spread into 13 states including New York. The EAB is estimated to reach Dutchess County within 5-10 years because it is currently located in counties across the Hudson River. To assess the potential impact of EAB on the Vassar Ecological Preserve, I completed a survey of Fraxinus americana, white ash trees, and the surrounding plant communities on the Vassar Ecological Preserve. A grid of points, 100 meters apart, was laid out over the forested areas of the Preserve. I located the closest ash tree from each point and collected the diameter at breast height (DBH), health, canopy size, and distance from the point. The closest tree species to the ash were also recorded to understand the surrounding community. With this data, density of ash, the health of ash population, and the size of the gaps that will be created when these ash trees die were assessed. From these factors, the areas on the preserve where the loss of ash is likely to have the greatest impact were identified (See map). I am using these findings to make recommendations on how we can prioritize research and management on the preserve.