Documentation of significant losses in Cornus florida L. populations throughout the Appalachian ecoregion
Over the last three decades the fungus Discula destructiva Redlin has severely impacted Cornus florida L. (flowering dogwood—hereafter “dogwood”) populations throughout its range. This study estimates historical and current dogwood populations (number of trees) across the Appalachian ecoregion. Objectives were to (1) quantify current dogwood populations in the Appalachian ecoregion, (2) quantify change over time in dogwood populations, and (3) identify trends in dogwood population shifts. Data from the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database were compiled from 41 FIA units in 13 states for county-level estimates of the total number of all live dogwood trees on timberland within the Appalachian ecoregion. Analysis of covariance, comparing historical and current county-level dogwood population estimates with average change in forest density as the covariate, was used to identify significant changes within FIA units. Losses ranging from 25 to 100 percent of the sample population (P < .05) were observed in 33 of the 41 (80 percent) sampled FIA units. These results indicate that an important component of the eastern deciduous forest has experienced serious losses throughout the Appalachians and support localized empirical results and landscape-scale anecdotal evidence.