Widespread and prolonged defoliation by the European winter moth, Operophtera brumata L., has occurred in forests of eastern Massachusetts for more than a decade and populations of winter moth continue to invade new areas of New England. This study characterized the forests of eastern Massachusetts invaded by winter moth and related the duration of winter moth defoliation estimated using dendrochronology to observed levels of tree mortality and understory woody plant density. Quercus basal area mortality in mixed Quercus and mixed Quercus-Pinus strobus forests in eastern Massachusetts ranged from 0-30%; mortality of Quercus in these forests was related to site quality and the number of winter moth defoliation events. In addition, winter moth defoliation events lead to a subsequent increase in understory woody plant density. Our results indicate that winter moth defoliation has been an important disturbance in New England forests that may have lasting impacts.
Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Simmons, M.J.; Lee, T.D.; Ducey, M.J.; Dodds, K.J. Invasion of Winter Moth in New England: Effects of Defoliation and Site Quality on Tree Mortality. Forests 2014, 5, 2440-2463. doi: 10.3390/f5102440