Hemlock Woolly Adelgid ( Adelges tsugae ) and hemlock ( Tsuga spp.) in Western North Carolina: What do the Forest Inventory and Analysis data tell us?
Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) and T. caroliniana (Carolina Hemlock) are important components of western North Carolina forests. The invasive Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid [HWA]) was first reported in NC in 1995, and by 2007 the entire range of hemlock in the state was infested. An examination of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program data for FIA Unit 4 (21 mountainous counties in western North Carolina), looking at remeasured trees for the time period 1999–2013, demonstrated that diameter net growth of hemlock decreased and mortality increased with increasing duration of HWA infestation. Hemlock trees in this study had a ~50% chance of survival after 12 years of confirmed HWA infestation in the county where they occur, and growth of surviving trees was reduced by ~50% over the same time period. This study demonstrates the utility of FIA data for examining effects of an introduced, invasive pest on tree growth and mortality over a relatively small area. Some advantages and limitations to our approach are discussed.