Aaron Ellison, Senior Research Fellow in Ecology
Title: Things fall apart: land-use history, non-native insects, climatic change, and the decline of a forest foundation species
Host Lab: Davis
Topic: Foundation species create and define particular ecosystems; control in large measure the distribution and abundance of associated flora and fauna; and modulate core ecosystem processes. In forests, foundation species are large, long-lived, late-successional trees whose ecological characteristics and functions rarely co-occur in other species. In New England, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is the foundation species, but it is declining and dying throughout its range because of additive and interactive effects of climatic change, the nonnative hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), and anthropogenic activities. In this talk, I describe aspects of eastern hemlock's unique ecological characteristics that contribute to its foundational role and discuss data from historical reconstructions, ongoing observations, and manipulative experiments at Harvard Forest and throughout southern New England aimed at understanding the structure and dynamics of the forests of our future.