Critique and Key Learnings from the The Ecology Of Energy And Nutrient Fluxes In Hemlock Forests Invaded By Hemlock Woolly Adelgid - Article Example

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HWA (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid) infestation has been causing a severe reduction in the survival rates of eastern hemlock in the North American forests and is currently reported from 15 states in eastern USA. As a result of this infestation, there are enormous changes in the nutrient and energy fluxes in the forest ecology…
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Critique and Key Learnings from the Article The Ecology Of Energy And Nutrient Fluxes In Hemlock Forests Invaded By Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
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"Critique and Key Learnings from the The Ecology Of Energy And Nutrient Fluxes In Hemlock Forests Invaded By Hemlock Woolly Adelgid"

Insect herbivores affect the foliage of the plants that they infest, causing alterations in nutrient cycling in the canopy and lead to changes in the decomposition dynamics by altering plant tissues and chemical properties of litter produced by the infested plants. Such changes alter the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous content in living foliage and also affect the production of secondary compounds such as polyphenols and tannins (Choudhury 1988, Karban and Baldwin 1997, Belovsky and Slade 2000, Hattenschwiler and Vitousek 2000, Chapman et al. 2003). Furthermore, the excreta and protective structures, such as wax wool, of these insects change the quantities of energy and nutrients available in the canopy (Seastedt and Crossley 1984, Schowalter et al.1986, Lovett and Ruesink 1995, Stadler et al. 1998, Schowalter 2000, Christenson et al. 2002). These effects manifest themselves by altering the throughfall chemistry and litter properties.
This study was conducted to evaluate the actual changes occurring in the nutrient cycling across the forest ecology because of an HWA infestation. In order to proceed with the study, the authors first examined the life cycle of HWA and evaluated the process of infestation in a stepwise manner. The canopy throughfall, litter samples beneath the trees and leachate obtained from infested and non-infested trees was examined to estimate their chemistry, i.e. the amount of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), inorganic nitrogen [ammonium-N (NH4-N), nitrate-N (NO3-N)], potassium (K+), total nitrogen (N total), and particulate organic matter (POM). Their effect on the soil microflora and was also assessed. The samples were obtained from field experiments at the Mount Tom State Reservation, located in the town of Holyoke, Hampden County, in south-central Massachusetts, USA This study successfully evaluated the effects of a Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) infestation on the “vertical energy and nutrient fluxes” in the eastern hemlock trees. The litter and throughfall collected beneath the infested trees were found to have higher dissolved organic carbon, organic nitrogen and potassium flux, and a lower inorganic nitrogen flux when compared to the litter and throughfall collected from non-infested trees. The needle and birch litter beneath the trees were also compared. Upon examination, the needle litter collected from beneath the infested hemlock trees had a higher nitrogen concentration than that collected beneath the non-infested trees. However, there was no difference in nitrogen concentrations of birch litter from infested and non-infested trees. The birch litter micro-flora in response to the HWA infested and non-infested throughfall was also examined. There was no significant difference in the titer of yeasts and filamentous fungi, whereas, bacteria were found to be more abundant in the litter beneath infested trees. Furthermore, studies on litter microcosms showed that there was less dissolved organic carbon in the birch leachate when compared to the hemlock needles, even though both were exposed to HWA-affected througfall. The inorganic and dissolved organic nitrogen concentrations were however found to be higher in birch leachate. Significance This study Read More
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