Climate Impact on the Eastern Hemlock
May 14 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Global climate change has severely affected the abundances, range and interactions of many species. Dr. Cheah will share her extensive body of research on the biotic and abiotic stressors and their impacts on eastern hemlock health in the context of a rapidly changing climate.
The eastern hemlock is an important tree species in New England forests. Hemlocks, while not a highly sought-after timber product, contribute greatly to the forest ecosystem. Eastern hemlocks have dense evergreen foliage and grow along streams, playing an important role in the water cycle and regulating stream flow year-round. Their shade also helps control stream temperatures and helps aquatic animals, like brook trout, that require cold water for survival. These trees play an important role in the animal and plant communities of our forests. These trees are part of a holistic system and when one species suffers many suffer.
The hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect introduced to eastern North America from Japan, has caused serious damage to eastern hemlocks here in New England and beyond. But it’s spread has been slowed by its vulnerability to extreme cold winter temperatures. Traditional predictions are that rising winter temperatures in the future due to climate change are likely to remove the conditions currently limiting the adelgid. Dr. Cheah will share evidence from her long-term studies of 25 years with the eastern hemlock ecosystem that have surprisingly different conclusions for hemlock woolly adelgid range expansion that offer hope for the perpetuation of eastern hemlocks in the Northeast.